The Story Behind Hello, Agnieszka by Evy Journey

Her breathing deepened and quickened into staccato gasps for breath she tried to control. But she could not. Instead, they overpowered her. The gasps burst out into anguished tears that she had held back too long.

Skip a few lines to the next sequence in this scene:

Her mother, who had never been able to endure seeing her children cry, seemed quite affected by her anguish. The couple of times she raised her head to speak, Elise saw her mother gazing at her with mournful eyes, her mouth drawn downward, as if to keep herself from crying.

After a while, her mother got up, sat on the arm of her chair, and gathered her in her arms. “Oh my baby! I’m sure we’ll all manage. You know we’re here for you.”

Elise was grateful. She clung to her mother who could find no more words with which to comfort her. She held Elise—stroking her hair, pressing her cheeks and her lips to the top of her head.

This excerpt is from a story I wrote before Hello Agnieszka. Why am I quoting it? Because this is the scene that finally convinced me to write a prequel/sequel to that earlier book, Hello, My Love.

Agnieszka, the protagonist in the second book, actually appears for the first time in Hello My Love, which I wrote to be read on its own. In this first novel, Agnieszka is just “mother” or “Mom.” We never know her first name until Hello Agnieszka.

Before the sequence quoted above, Agnieszka has been very upset that her daughter’s dreams are about to die because of something Elise has done. But she watches Elise’s anguish and her reaction changes to sympathy, her own disappointment and anxiety for her daughter set aside so that she could help Elise cope.

I had not planned a sequel to Hello, My Love, much less a family saga. But by the time this earlier book was finished and edited, I knew I wanted to know more about Agnieszka.

I reread the first book, stopped to mull over this scene and told myself I had to devote a novel to Agnieszka. The dynamics of mother-child relationships intrigued me. We often don’t think of parents as having had lives of their own, lives in their youth probably as rich and complicated as our own. In Hello Agnieszka, Elise realizes she hadn’t truly known her mother and that they’re more alike than she first thought.

Shortly after going over this scene, I began to flesh out Agnieszka; a family saga (Between Two Worlds) evolved; and Hello Agnieszka became Book 2 in a three-book series. By necessity, Book 2 is both a sequel and a prequel since the event that impels Agnieszka to tell her story has to be told. This event is much more heartbreaking to Agnieszka, the mother, than the trial Elise had to face.

How this book came into being is a major reason I love writing fiction, which can take you through an adventure you didn’t initially anticipate.

The books in the series are all independent but related. Like members in a family. Book 3 (Welcome, Reluctant Stranger) tells the story of Elise’s older brother, Justin.

About the Author

Evy Journey has always been fascinated with words and seduced by beautiful prose. She loves Jane Austen and invokes her spirit every time she spins tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories she interweaves with mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales. SPR (Self Publishing Review) awarded Evy the 2015 Independent Woman Author bronze for her writing.

She’s lived and traveled in many places, from Asia to Europe. Often she’s ended up in Paris, though—her favorite place in the world. She’s an observer-wanderer. A flâneuse, as the French would say.

The mind is what fascinates her most. Armed with a Ph.D., she researched and spearheaded the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, in 2012, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.



About the Book:

Author: Evy Journey
Publisher: Sojourner
Pages: 273
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Book Blurb:

Elise thought she knew her mother. Agnieszka Halverson is a caring woman, a great cook, and an exceptional piano player; but living in a secure, predictable world, she’s also a little dull. Her world is devastated when her oldest son attempts suicide, and Elise finds her mother has a past—both sweet and bitter—that she must now reveal to explain the suicide attempt. A past rich with a passion for music and shattered dreams, betrayal of a sweet but tragic first love, second chances and renewed hopes.

Born to immigrant parents weighed down by their roots, Agnieszka takes solace in learning to play the piano, taught by a sympathetic aunt who was a concert pianist in Poland before World War II. But when her aunt betrays her and her parents cast her aside for violating their traditional values, can Agnieszka’s music sustain her? Can she, at eighteen, build a life on her own?

When she finally bares her soul to her children, Agnieszka hopes they can accept that she has a past that’s as complex as theirs; that she’s just as human, just as vulnerable as they are. But do her revelations alienate her husband and can they push Elise farther away from her?


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