Author Bio: Marcia Gruver is a full time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, Marcia delights in writing historical fiction. Her deep south-central roots lend a Southern-comfortable style and a touch of humor to her writing. Recently awarded a three-book contract by Barbour Publishing, she’s busy these days pounding on the keyboard and watching the deadline clock.
Marcia’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); the Christian Authors Network (CAN!); Faith, Hope, & Love (FHL)-the Inspirational Outreach Chapter of the Romance Writers of America; Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW); The Writers View; and a longstanding member of ACFW Crit3, her brilliant and insightful critique group.
Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaugh ter—so far.
Please tell us a little bit about who Marcia Gruver is. Which Marcia? Like everyone else, who I am depends on the hat on my head. I’m wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, granny, and just recently, great-granny to a little sprite of a girl who seems well qualified to carry our legacy into the future. Even more recently, I’m a published author of inspirational fiction. How about that? Marcia Gruver is content, well loved, fulfilled, and grateful to God for every second of her life.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Guilty secret time? I love to play video games. I look for any slip of time and any excuse to play. I also love to read and watch movies in all genres.
In Diamond Duo, your character Bertha is a breath of fresh air with her fun and refreshing sense of humor. If I were to ask those close to you about your sense of humor, would they describe similarities between you and Bertha? Oh, boy! I’m afraid so. I’m actually dry and rather reserved at first—so much so that I’ve been accused of having a split personality. When I’m very relaxed and get to know a person well, the real me comes out to play. Yep, the lights are on and a whole bunch of us are home.
When you sit down to read for pleasure what authors do you choose? Linda Nichols, Kristen Heitzman, and Brandilyn Collins are at the top of the list. But I have so many books in my ‘To Be Read’ pile, I just know there are favorites sitting there waiting to be discovered.
What three books that you’ve read this past year would you recommend others rush to the bookstore and purchase? That’s a tough one. Readers’ tastes are so diverse, especially in fiction. For instance, I write quirky, sweet historical romance with a thread of adventure to spice it up a bit. I realized going in that this wouldn’t appeal to every reader. In the same way, there’s a huge fan base for the spooky novels written by Brandilyn Collins, yet I happen to know people too scared to read them. A great testimony to the quality of her work, by the way. It breaks my heart to read a scathing review of an author’s hard work, written by a person who had no business picking it up in the first place.
Nonfiction? I highly recommend The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. This book almost reads like fiction and is an incredible ride.
If you could take your dream vacation, where would you go and who would go with you? I once would’ve said England. I love the Brits. After watching Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, I’m now captivated by Tuscany. Whichever destination I chose, my traveling partner would have to be my hubby. He’s great to talk to. But since he wouldn’t take off work to go, I’d take my daughter Tracy, the most fun person I know.
An interview with Marcia about the book:
Tell us about Diamond Duo. Bertha Maye Biddie’s in love. Trouble is, she’s not sure the object of her affection feels the same. He seems to be interested, but something’s holding him back. So when opportunity rides into Jefferson on the northbound train out of Marshall, young Bertha leaps at the chance to learn a few tricks. A charming, charismatic stranger offers to take Bertha under her wing and teach her the art of wooing a man. But when the woman is unable to keep her promise, Bertha realizes their chance meeting held far more eternal significance.
Where did the idea for Diamond Duo come from? On a trip to Jefferson, Texas, I heard the true story of the unsolved murder of the infamous Diamond Bessie, aka Annie Monroe. In 1877, a flashy, well-dressed couple rode a train into town for a short visit. They checked into a hotel as A. Monroe and wife. The woman seemed to go by more than one name, one of them Bessie Moore. Because she wore several large diamond rings, supposedly gifts offered in exchange for immoral favors, the locals soon dubbed her “Diamond Bessie.”
On the last day of Bessie’s life, she and her companion, Abraham Rothschild, took a picnic basket into the woods. He came out alone, wandering the streets of Jefferson by himself for several days. When asked about Bessie, he said she was staying with nearby friends, and would return in time for their departure. However, he left by himself two days later, carrying Bessie’s luggage along with his own.
A local woman discovered poor Bessie’s body in the woods several days later. Jefferson officials went after Abraham Rothschild and tried him for her murder, but due to his money and considerable influence, he was acquitted.
While standing over Diamond Bessie’s grave, assuming her eternal fate, I found myself wondering: “What if?” Maybe history had been unkind to Bessie. What if she wasn’t as bad as some claimed? Suppose God had arranged a surprise finish for her—a loving, merciful end that no one would’ve expected?
How did you become interested in the real life murder of Annie Monroe? It’s hard to visit historic Jefferson, Texas without tripping over Annie’s story. Diamond Bessie has become a tourist attraction, and the locals seem more than eager to tell the account. The shops abound with books on the topic, one penned by Jefferson historian, Fred McKenzie. Every year, during Jefferson’s annual Pilgrimage Festival, the residents perform in a play entitled “The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial.” The play is derived from court transcripts, and it’s really quite an event!
You have several themes woven into Diamond Duo. Could share them with us?Young Bertha Biddie schemes to win the affections of Thaddeus Bloom, a man bound by honor to his father’s dream. She gets a lesson on honor herself when God asks her to risk her future with Thad to help a stranger.
Thad learns the importance of listening to his mama the hard way, but wonders if it’s fair to expect him to sacrifice his happiness in obedience to his father’s plans for his life.
Sarah King is used to better treatment from her fellow man regardless of race, but forgets her husband deserves the same regard. Her unbridled temper and acrid tongue threaten to drive him away, until the pure heart of a tragic stranger teaches Sarah a lesson in colorblind acceptance.
In Diamond Duo, Bertha feels solely responsible for leading Annie Monroe out of her lifestyle and into a believer’s world. Have you ever had a similar experience in your life? I think every Christian feels a strong compulsion to share God’s grace once they’ve had a taste. If you think about it, given the Great Commission, we’re all solely responsible for leading those in our paths to God.
How do you research a historical project for accuracy? Actually, I begin most of my research on Amazon.com. They have books on every imaginable topic. No, I don’t own shares of stock, but I should by now.
After I pore over written material to get a visual of the period, I plan a visit to the area where the book is set. For my Texas Fortunes Series, I spent a week in Jefferson, Texas researching Diamond Duo, book one. Book two was easy. I live just a few miles from Humble Texas, the setting for Chasing Charity. My family all work in the oil patch and have for generations. My contractor husband is currently on a job in South Texas, so I was fortunate to spend several months in Carrizo Springs researching book three, Emmy’s Equal. There’s no substitute for walking the streets, exploring the sites, haunting the libraries, and talking to the locals. However, I’ve discovered the little details that provide historical accuracy need constant verification. I do my best, but I don’t know if it’s possible to get all the facts right. I use the Internet some, but you have to be careful with information gleaned from the web. Not every source can be trusted.
You have so many wonderful and unique characters in Diamond Duo. Which of the characters do you identify with and why? This question makes me smile. I’ve been accused of being the inspiration for Bertha Maye Biddie—a free-spirited rebel with an aversion to shoes. I think that’s me on the inside.
Can you tell us about your next book? Chasing Charity, book two in the Texas Fortunes series, picks up in Humble, Texas, several years after Diamond Duo ends. Charity Bloom, Bertha’s daughter, stands at the altar watching her best friend flee the church on the heels of her departing fiancé. This is the final straw for Charity, who is distressed by the many changes taking place in her life and in her hometown, most notably the devastation wrought after oil is discovered near Humble. Imagine Charity’s surprise when one of the men responsible comes to her rescue, and she finds her heart torn between two suitors—the handsome roughneck and the deceitful rogue who broke her heart.
Praise for Diamond Duo:
Diamond Duo is alive with great characters, brought to life under Marcia Gruver’s unique skill. The charm of the little details and the big picture of tension and murder will keep you turning the pages. Mary Connealy- author of the Lassoed in Texas series
With lyrical prose and a cast of characters that will remain in your heart long after the last page is turned, Marcia Gruver’s debut novel is a must-read. Whether you’re seeking a romance, a wonderful Southern story or an escape to another time, Diamond Duo is a masterpiece waiting to be found. Kathleen Y’barbo author of the Fairweather Key series
Marcia Gruver’s writing is witty, charming and historically accurate. She pulls you into the lives of the characters and makes you feel as though you’re actually walking and talking with them. Best of all, she captures the true feel of the setting, (a real strength in her stories). I can’t recommend Diamond Duo strongly enough! Janice Thompson author of the Bridal Mayhem series
Well-written, delightful characters—Diamond Duo is the most entertaining historical to come around in a long time. Elizabeth Ludwig author of Where the Truth Lies and Died in the Wool
Diamond Duo is a beautifully written historical rich in authentic period details with well-developed characters, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. Marcia Gruver brings us a bit of suspense, a sweet and unpredictable romance, and life lessons along the way. You’re sure to be entertained and come away with questions about your own faith and sense of urgency in bringing the Good News to those in need. What more could you ask for in a Christian fiction novel? Susan Sleeman author of the Garden Gate Mystery series
This is the first installment of a new series, Texas Fortunes, by a talented author who works factual happenings into her fiction. Readers will root for the protagonists of this charming tale..Romantic Times - Four starsThe first Texas Fortunes historical romance is a terrific late Reconstruction era tale that brings to life a port city. The murder of Annie also known as Diamond Bessie Monroe is a real event that anchors the well written story line; as Marcia Gruver easily blends fact and fiction. With a strong cast especially the lead couple who each has self esteem issues, fans of Reconstruction Era romances will want to read the delightful DIAMOND DUO. Harriet Klausner – Amazon’s #1 reviewer
Visit the following blogs this week for more of Marcia Gruver and Diamond Duo.
A Latte and Some Words
Simple LivingChristian Style
My Review: I found this book fresh and refreshing. Marcia's turn of phrase uses the unexpected word, but also the perfect phrasing to make you feel as if you are in Texas during Reconstruction. The ending is particularly satisfying, romantic, and heart-warming. I highly recommend this book.
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You can visit Marcia's blog HERE.