Just after midnight in a small town in Wisconsin, eight women begin walking together down a rural highway. Career women, housewives, mothers, divorcées, and one ex-prom queen, they are close friends who have been meeting every Thursday night for years, sharing food, wine, and their deepest secrets. But on this particular Thursday, Susan, Alice, Chris, Sandy, Gail, Mary, Joanne, and Janice decide to disappear from their own lives.
Their spontaneous pilgrimage attracts national attention and inspires other women from all across the country. As the miles fall away and the women forge ahead on their backroads odyssey — leaving small miracles in their wake–each of their histories unfolds, tales of shattered dreams and unexpected renewal, of thwarted love affairs and precious second chances. In luminous, heartwarming prose, Kris Radish deftly interweaves the women’s intimate confessions into the story of their brave, history-making walk.
Carrie’s Conversation with Kris Radish
Carrie: What inspired you to write THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS?
Kris: I was a full-time journalist and had written two non-fiction books. It was time. I had worlds of experience inside of me from my life’s work and wanted a story that was passionate, inspiring, and very real. So I asked the universe to bring me a story. And BAM! I was reading the newspaper and there was a story about a group of women who were inspired one night to go on a walking pilgrimage. The story I wrote absolutely flew into my heart.
Carrie: In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ Does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Kris: It depends. Usually the idea drops inside of me like a hot brick and I run screaming into my office. I’m serious! (Well, not always!) Then it fans out from there and once the main character has a face and voice….there is no stopping me. Really good red wine helps also!!
Carrie: Give us an idea of the plot without giving too much away?
Kris: A group of women, all friends, all different, meet weekly to talk and share lives—each one harboring a secret, loss, love, desire, ache. When one woman shares a very serious secret the women spontaneously decide to walk out of their lives and when they do that – walking, sharing, touching other lives – miracles abound. It is a story of friendship, love, loss, and finally liberation.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS?
Kris: To live, laugh, and love mightily. To let go – sometimes we can hold onto things, events, people so tightly that we are frozen in place and we forget to move forward. There are many things and emotions going on in this book. I think just like the women walkers – each reader will take away something he or she needs.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS? Why?
Kris: This is a very hard question. This is my first novel and will always have a special place in my heart. I love the older woman, I love the exchange with the daughter, I love the beginning…!!!! My favorite scene is the entire book!!!
Carrie: What was the most difficult scene to write? Why?
Kris: Probably the scene where the woman was going to throw herself in front of the train. I remember writing this as if it were yesterday. I was in a very, very tough place in my own life and this part of the book, where the title is revealed, is filled with great emotion. I also know someone who had been in this position – don’t want to give it all away – so it was very real for me.
Carrie: Which character do you identify with the most in THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in the book? If so, while you were writing or only afterwards upon review?
Kris: When the book came out my daughter, Rachel, was in middle school and I was still working as a full-time journalist, writing every spare moment, and I was a single mother. Rachel called me one day after school and had just finished the book. She said, “Mom, I figured it out! There is a little bit of you in each character!” She was correct. Little pieces everywhere.
Carrie: What are you reading right now?
Kris: I am like a reading nut. I am reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, The Strangest Man by Graham Farmelo, Lit by Mary Karr and the latest Patricia Cornwell novel, The Scarpetta Factor. I know – too many but if I don’t have like five books going and three lined up I get shaky.
Carrie: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?
Kris: Alice Munro – greatest living author….I kiss her feet. I once had a private interview with Eudora Welty – I am still not over it – tremendous influence on me and the world. I also love and write poetry…Mary Oliver, Audre Lorde….and my biggest influence – NANCY DREW!!!!!!
Carrie: What is your go-to book–that one you’ve read more than once, possibly over-and-over? OR Who is your go-to author?
Kris: Hardly ever read a book twice – there are too many to read….but Alice Munro…I keep her books close to me when I work and sleep. Maybe some of the ink will leak into my brain!!!!
Carrie: Can you offer a glimpse into your “real life” and share with us a bit of your personal life—Outside of writing, what’s important to you?
Kris: My two children and my partner are the center of my life. The thing that matters most to me is to always be a good mother…it is the hardest and most wonderful thing I have ever done. I keep very close tabs on my aging parents and am going home in two weeks to take care of my dad so my mother can get a break. I absolutely love to be active….when I am not writing which is pretty much every day of my life. I go to the gym, do weights, hike a lot, kayak, canoe, love to golf, ride my bike, have a motorcycle license, love the theater and love to try something new each year. This year it’s learning how to navigate a boat in the ocean and I am taking a boating course! I remain a newspaper junkie and read three a day. I adore good wine and am a vegetarian. I love to sing and make people laugh. Life is just an adventure to me and I can’t wait to jump on it and ride it every single morning.
Carrie: Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.
Kris: Let’s see…the tattoos? I love to bake? I was a varsity fencer in college? I could go on…..Was once totally into needlepoint. Love to sketch and draw little pencil thingbes….on and on and on…!!!
Carrie: What has been one of your biggest struggles and/or successes (professional/personal) and what have you learned from it?
Kris: Without a doubt – patience! Faster, more, hurry! I have really paid my dues in this business….which is very,very hard, but I have never given up and I have been in some pretty low places. Following your passion is terribly important and a main message in all of my work..even if you have to wait 35 years for it…!!
Carrie: Have you ever had a nickname? Tell us about it.
Kris: I high school my friends called me Radass…!!! Mostly just Radish. It’s still shocking when someone says, “Hi, Kris!”
Carrie: Who is your biggest fan?
Kris: See, this is hard for me. I see myself as Radish, you know? I have tons of fans but I see them as friends and I see myself, even though I get stopped in airports and stuff, as Kris Radish, the woman who writes books. So – shoot…..you know????
Carrie: What was the best advice you’ve ever received—do you follow it?
Kris: When I was in journalism school I had a wonderful professor who really was the first teacher who ever inspired and believed in me. When I thought I was there – he pushed me harder and much further. “You’re close,” I remember him saying, “but I know you can do better.” He was correct and I think about what he said every single time I sit down to right. Mr. Jozwiak – you are gone but still here with me!
Carrie: What is your favorite literary turn-of-phrase / quote / word picture?
Kris: How about “free beer”!!!
Carrie: What did you learn about yourself while writing this book that you may not have expected?
Kris: That it was okay to transfer my personal emotions and insights into a novel and also this was my first novel and there were so many lessons! The story of how it even came to be could be a book itself…..nothing has ever been easy, but I have to say, when I look back, it was worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears.
Carrie: What’s next for you ~ Anything else you’d like to offer?
Kris: I’ll be singing in Vegas! No….just kidding. My seventh novel, Hearts on a String, comes out in June. I love it!! And I am finishing the eighth, Tuesday Night Miracles, working on two works of non-fictions, and gathering notes for my tenth novel. I have lots going on….never a dull moment in Radishland!!!!!
Carrie: How do readers get in touch with you? Website Address? Email?
Kris: I have a wonderful website: www.krisradish.com. I update it a lot and blog and share tons of stuff about my life – even poems. I also answer all of my emails. My work touches women in a way that often changes their lives and I honor that by responding personally. I feel totally honored each time I get an email and a personal note….actually, the emails and notes will be a book some day!!!!
To Enter to Win a Copy of The Elegant Gathering of White Snows:
- Leave a Comment below sharing a story about the importance of your friendship(s)
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- Deadline: March 15th, 2010 ~ midnight, EST
PLEASE check out my friend, Debba Haupert’s website www.GIRLFRIENDOLOGY.com for a book club discussion on THE ELEGANT GATHERING OF WHITE SNOWS on March 1st Girlfriendology is an amazing site that inspires women and female friendships and I encourage you to subscribe to the feed & newsletter, so you don’t miss a thing. AWESOME!!