Friday, April 15, 2011

Author Interview and Giveaway - Sibella Giorello

Hello readers! Today I am happy to introduce author Sibella Giorello to Reviews By Jane!

First off, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and something about you that might surprise your readers?

I'm a homeschool mom who gets up verrrry early to write. Sometimes as early as 3 a.m.

But that's not the surprise. It's this: My writing schedule was inspired by Iditarod dog sledder Susan Butcher. Growing up in Alaska, I always admired her work ethic. She beat her opponents by training herself to sleep in fifteen-minute intervals on the trail.

She once said something to the effect, "You'd be surprised what your can do if you just give up a little sleep."

To which I would add: Naps are beautiful things.

Whoa that's cool! 3am?! Haha that's crazy! But I guess a writer does what a writer's gotta do! ;)
What inspired you to write the Raleigh Harmon series?

I couldn't find the book I wanted to read.

It was that simple. I adore mysteries. But the books were getting more and more gory, and they kicked around Christians like soccer balls. All I wanted was a gritty mystery without all the shallow sex and gratuitous cursing, and a story in which Christians were portrayed realistically. Not as perfect, not as preachy religious people. But as forgiven strugglers in a fallen world.

When I couldn't find that book, I started writing it, mostly to amuse myself when I was home with young children.

But the story really took off when Raleigh Harmon walked onto the page spouting her southern sarcasm and sympathy for the underdog.

All these years later, I'm still laughing and crying alongside her.

That's excellent! I love that about your books. :)
What prompted you to write a story with the lead character an FBI agent?

I majored in geology in college (like Raleigh), but I never knew the FBI had a forensic mineralogy department. Since I was working as a reporter, I called up the FBI, hoping to write a magazine story. The bureau gave me clearance to interview their geologists. Smart and generous and interesting people, but about a month later, I gave birth to my first child. Then my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and moved in with us so I could take care of him.

Nothing seemed more important than staying home.

It was years before I got back to the FBI. And it was a long fallow period, a difficult trial for someone who always found writing relatively easy. But during those fallow years I meditated on "He who waters will himself be watered" (Proverbs 11:25). I knew God wanted me to focus on family, not writing. It wasn't easy, but then obedience rarely is.

Years later, when I came back to the story, everything seemed laid out in advance. As I just needed to take dictation.

I was watered.

Has your faith influenced your writings?

My faith is intrinsic to my writing. No way could I maintain this schedule -- homeschooling while writing one book each year for five years-- unless every single morning I went to God and admitted I can't write without His help.

I'm fully aware of my limitations, and constantly surprised by His limitless mercy and love.

 Did you base any of your characters on people you really know?

Nobody directly. But it's surprising how bits and pieces from various people cobble themselves together into new people. Like literary Play-Do!

The same phenomenon happens with places, particularly places I visited as a newspaper reporter.

Sometimes my mind seems like a deep closet -- stuff shoved way in back, then I open the door, and it all falls out.

That's cool. I notice that when I write, too!
Which book that you've written was your favorite to write?

I've enjoyed writing all of them -- I mean, if I didn't enjoy doing this, why get up 3 a.m.?

But "The Mountains Bow Down" had some personal delights, because it was a way of thanking my grandmothers for investing so much in me. Both Alaska pioneers, they fed me a steady diet of wonderful, shocking, and amazing stories. Talks about characters!

When you started writing, where did you begin? With an outline? Or did you just jump into it and let the story form as you wrote?

Outlines don't work for me. I like to explore. But I need some compass points for the journey. To start writing, I need to know how the adventure begins. Then some crucial scenes along the way. And the ending. That's it.

If I outline beyond that I get bored. Like I'm looking at pictures from someone else's dreary vacation.

Wow I'm the exact same way! Too much outline and I start to get bored...I like the story to just unfold as I go. :)
You've written and published several books. Which one required the most research? Which took the longest time to write?

The research for the first book was the most extensive. I probably made four trips to the lab in DC from Richmond, then another four to interview an FBI agent who also was a geologist. I filed several Freedom of Information Acts requesting data from old cases, then started bothering the Richmond field office and a Special Agent named Wayne Smith. This guy, I’m certain, was a gift from God.

Yannick Bisson
Hired when Hoover was still running the agency, Wayne knew everything. And he was a Christian who spoke openly about how his faith guided his work. As a bonus, he took me to the Bureau’s firing range and proceeded to sink a series of powerful firearms into my sweaty palms. Let me tell you, after Wayne Smith’s tutorial, I could write with authority about FBI agents.

Other people helped too. A young female agent described what it was like being a chick in an old boy’s world. Two cold case detectives in Richmond let me hang out at the cop shop late at night. A state geologist carried soil to my house in a Ziploc baggie and explained why it was special.

If a writer is genuinely curious, and conscientious, people are happy to help with your research. Just don’t waste their time.

Since then, the research has become more focused. I know my character, so now it's a matter of figuring out what science puzzle is going to confront her.

Angie Harmon as Raleigh
Oh my goodness! Wow you really did a LOT of deep research for these books! Kudos to you - it shows in how accurate and realistic your books are.
Who would you have play Raleigh, Demott, and Jack if your books were made into movies?

I like Angie Harmon as Raleigh -- and hey, they share a last name. I haven't considered an actor for DeMott or Jack, probably because I watch TV once every blue moon.

Oh WOW! Angie Harmon is PERFECT! I think perhaps Yannick Bisson for Jack and Patrick Wilson for Demott.
Who is your favorite author?

It's a three-way tie between John Steinbeck and John D. MacDonald and C.S. Lewis. Three guys who would probably dislike each other with intensity!

Do you have another book in the making? Can you give us some insight on what it's about?

Patrick Wilson as Demott
I'm writing the fifth Raleigh Harmon adventure, "The Stars Shine Bright." It's an exciting journey because she's trying to decide some crucial things about her life -- if she should get married, who she really is, what's wrong with her mother.

I really cannot wait for that to release! I'm SO excited!
How can our reader's reach you?

I love hearing from readers. They can contact me through my website:

Thanks for visiting Reviews By Jane!

My pleasure, completely!

Not only has Sibella been gracious enough to allow me to interview her, but she is also willing to giveaway a copy of her latest release - The Mountains Bow Down - to one lucky commenter! USA ONLY! Enter soon! This giveaway ends on April 29th!

Follow this blog via GFC and leave a comment saying what you found most interesting in the interview above.

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Sibella said...

Are you a casting director, too? Because those are ideal choices for Jack and DeMott. Thanks for the visual inspiration!

And thanks for the fun interview, too! :-)

Sibella Giorello

Sylvia said...

I am a follower of this blog and have read book one in this series. Since I really enjoyed it I look forward to reading the rest in the series.I think it's great that you actually went to Washington, D.C. and were able to talk to actual FBI agents. It shows you are really concerned about your research and makes for a very realistic read.


Sibella said...

Thanks, Sylvia. Hope you will try the other books, they're even more fun than the first one! :-)

Vivien said...

I'm fascinated by the fact that she did extensive research. I love that. It's always frustrating when authors don't do the research and it shows.
GFC follower
+1 email subscriber

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Naomi Musch said...

Two things jumped out at me: gritty realism without the blech, and being a homeschool mom. In writing (what others write, what I write) it has to be REAL, and as for homeschooling, it's my "other" passion.

karenk said...

i liked your choice of 'angie harmon' as raleigh...thanks for the chance to read sibella's latest story :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

email subscriber :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

wfnren said...

Looks like an interesting book, I would like to win this. Carman sent me.

wfnren said...

Looks like an interesting book, I would like to win this. Carman sent me.

wfnren at aol dot com

p.s. forgot to leave my email address in the previous post

Faye said...

Wow 3 a.m.!
I really liked how Mrs. Giorello writes-like I do-with a basic outline but nothing too detailed. Like you, Jane, as well! I am glad to know that my writing habitts aren't strange or something.

Please enter me

crazi.swans at gmail dot com

I follow you!

loveangel132 said...

Thats insane that sometimes she starts her days at 3AM, is still able to Homeschool, and write her books... *bows down at her feet* She's superwomen!

Carmen Sent me!

GFC Follower- Loveangel132

-Thanks for such a great giveaway!

Charity U said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charity U said...

I deleted the last comment because I forgot to say my favorite part. I loved how she said that her characters are kinda put together from lots of different people combined! That's cool. :)

I follow.


Charity U said...

And I blogged entry 1.


Charity U said...

Entry 2 for blogging.


Amanda Stephan said...

I love how Sibella gets up VERY early to write ~ I do too!! Wonderful interview ~ very interesting. I look forward to reading her work even if I don't win! Thank you for the opportunity

amanda38401 at gmail dot com

Amanda Stephan said...

And, I'm a new GFC follower! Woo hoo :)

amanda38401 at gmail dot com

rah267 said...

I GFC follow
I like that she wasn't afraid to contact the FBI to get info
crazyred61 at yahoo dot com

Virginia said...

Subscribe to this blog(+1)

I love the interview and would love to read this book!!!!

Anonymous said...

The reviews on this book are awesome. I would love to have a copy!
+1 am a follower
+1 twitted
+2 I posted to my blog
+1 Post to facebook
+1 follow on twitter
I might have too many.....

Patsy said...

The thing I found interesting was that Susan slept 15 minutes at a time. I have to have my sleep! I don't see how she did that. And the fact that you get up at 3:00 a.m. I'm a morning myself but that's a little early for me. Your book sounds great. Would love to read it.

Carrie said...

I love finding authors who rely on God for their skills and help. I'm always looking for new Christian authors and would love to read your book. It sounds great. Thanks for the opportunity.


happyasalarks (at) yahoo (dot) com

Anonymous said...

I was interested in your research, book sounds great. Carmen sent me.

true_sheila at yahoo dot com

Nancye said...

WOW! 3am?? Have you lost you mind? Just kidding! :)You gotta' do what you gotta' do to get everything done. I admire you very much!

GFC Follower

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

email subscriber

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I follow you on Twitter

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

diana said...

This is not my usual genre of book but I'm starting to spread my wings a little and read more of a variety. This book sounds pretty fascinating!

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