Carrie’s Conversation with Lynne Griffin, Author of SEA ESCAPE
Carrie: Without giving too much away, give us an idea about what SEA ESCAPE is about.
Lynne: SEA ESCAPE is a story inspired by my parents love letters; it’s about the ties that bind mothers and daughters. Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to Henry and Claire, when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in when her carefully crafted life unraveled years ago, after the death of her beloved husband. Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother–a woman who once spoke the language of fabric; of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage–but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, each letter revealing patchwork details of her parents’ marriage, she finds a common thread. A secret, mother and daughter unknowingly share.
Carrie: What inspired you to write SEA ESCAPE?
Lynne: After my own mother passed away in 2000, I found love letters written to her by my father. As I read, I went so far as to imagine excerpts of my father’s beautiful writing shining within a novel I might someday write. In those musings, SEA ESCAPE was born. The letters were then and are now a treasure. The love captured within, pure and sincere. Yet to my storyteller’s heart, reading them then, I couldn’t help but think–not enough conflict, no secrets, no dramatic reveal. Certainly I didn’t want those things to come by way of my parents, but right then I started imagining a different story belong to a different daughter. That story is SEA ESCAPE.
Carrie: Is there an underlying theme of SEA ESCAPE?
Lynne: I’ve been a family life expert for more than twenty years, and there’s so much about my work counseling parents, observing children, and teaching educators about families that I use in writing fiction. My desire to capture family life in authentic ways feeds the themes of all my novels. There’s no shortage of seeds from my work that I use to inform my writing. Anton Chekhov called them little particulars. Right there in my everyday life are organic details that give genuineness to the stories I create. I’ve had my own grief work to do over the years; I lost my father when I was fifteen and my mother when I was forty. As a professional who’s taught classes and counseled parents and children about healthy grieving, I’ve always been struck by the choices people make related to the loss of a loved one—the healthy and unhealthy ways grief work gets done. So I write about the choices people make when faced with unbelievable pain. What really holds a marriage together when it’s tested. I examine the impact of loss on all kinds of relationships—mother, brother, sister, daughter, friend. If they start off strong—or don’t—what happens? Why do some people thrive after a loss, finding true purpose, while others don’t come out of it stronger?
Carrie: Which character do you identify with the most in SEA ESCAPE? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in SEA ESCAPE? If so, while you were writing or only afterwards upon review?
Lynne: I truly care about all my characters—in all their shades of humanity—yet the one I love the most is Helen. Like my own mother did, Helen struggles with what’s called prolonged grief disorder, a specific kind of depression brought on by loss. For some, grief refuses to follow the typical trajectory toward healing. In my years as a grief counselor, I’ve met countless people who simply can not move through the grieving process. I empathize with Helen, stuck in the past, gripped by the pain of loss. I have enormous compassion for her because of what my mother experienced after the death of my father. For this reason, SEA ESCAPE is a deeply personal and emotional novel for me. Helen is a character I will be forever connected to.
Carrie: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about writing fiction?
Lynne: Close the door on the marketplace while you write. Writing to trends–trying to guess what readers want–isn’t for me. I feel an obligation to write for the story, to let the characters tell me about their lives. I believe if my story and characters are authentic, the novel will find its audience.
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?
Lynne: I live in a seaside town much like Anaskaket depicted in SEA ESCAPE. I’m married to the most supportive husband a woman could have, and we have two college age children; a daughter studying vocal performance and music education, and a son studying jazz piano and music sound recording. My family provides me my greatest joy in life—and there’s a lot of music in my life too. My husband and children support, encourage, and ground me in unbelievable ways. I am very blessed. If I’m not spending time with them, or writing, I’m reading. The to-be-read piles of books in my home are an embarrassment of riches.
Carrie: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?
Lynne: Everything I read influences my work. If a novel isn’t working for me, I try to analyze from a craft perspective, why that’s the case. And if I love it, the same applies. I want to know how and why it sings. There are so many novels on my keeper shelf, books I dip in to, to be inspired. Wally Lamb’s, The Hour I First Believed; Margot Livesey’s, Eva Moves the Furniture; Nicole Krauss’s, The History of Love. I love everything by Ann Patchett, Sue Miller, and Jonathan Safran Foer. Novels I’ve recently read and adored include Day for Night by Frederick Reiken, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave.
Just a Bit More About Lynne Griffin:
Lynne Griffin writes about family life. She is the author of, Sea Escape-A novel (Simon & Schuster, July 2010) Life Without Summer-A novel (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), and the nonfiction parenting title, Negotiation Generation (Penguin, 2007). Lynne teaches family studies at the graduate level and writing at Grub Street Writers in Boston. She appears regularly on Boston’s Fox Morning News talking about family life issues. Lynne writes for the blog, Family Life Stories.
**Click HERE to visit Lynne’s website
SEA ESCAPE Excerpt ~ Chapter 1
Letters are windows casting light, illuminating the ties between two people. I could’ve sneaked a peek inside my parents’ romance by reading his letters to her, but I respected my mother’s love of curtains. At forty-five, the details of their marriage remained a mystery to me; I had no desire to confirm what I already knew. Even dead, she loved him more than me. My mother spent her days drenched in memories of safe arms and sweet music, reading his precious words, faded ink on yellowed stationery. I looked for ghosts around corners, certain I was running out of time to find a way to be enough for her. An inability to live in the present was one thing we had in common.
“Are you okay in there, Mother?” Well aware she startled at loud noises, I knocked lightly on the door nearest the driveway. No answer. By the fourth rap, I couldn’t stop myself, I was pounding.
The first pinprick of worry jabbed me as I wondered if this was the day I’d find my mother dead in her double bed, cold, even though she was covered by her wedding quilt of interlocking green and pink floral circles. Juggling two grocery bags and reminding the kids to stop at the end of the boardwalk leading to Anaskaket Beach, I jiggled the lock, but she’d bolted and double-bolted the place as if Sea Escape sat on a main street in the city instead of on waterfront acreage south of Boston.
To Enter to Win a FREE Copy of SEA ESCAPE:
Leave a Comment Below ~ We’d love to hear about one of your favorite memories about your parents/family
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Deadline: August 1st, 2010 ~ Midnight, EST
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Enter to Win a FREE Copy of Alice Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES (Soon to be a major motion picture)
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From Hachette’s Website:
Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. THE LOVELY BONES is such a book — a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world.
“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.
The major motion picture version of THE LOVELY BONES, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan is scheduled for release on December 11, 2009.
I realize some of you Words To Mouth followers are readers and some are listeners to the podcast—some are both…For those of you who enjoy listening to podcasts, I feel compelled to make a suggestion. I’ve been listening to an amazing podcast called The Moth where various storytellers … well, read the indented description below and then go to the site and/or subscribe to the show on iTunes and enjoy.
“What is The Moth?” from the website
The Moth, a not-for-profit storytelling organization, was founded in New York in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings on his native St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, where he and a small circle of friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales on his friend Wanda’s porch. After moving to New York, George missed the sense of connection he had felt sharing stories with his friends back home, and he decided to invite a few friends over to his New York apartment to tell and hear stories. Thus the first “Moth” evening took place in his living room. Word of these captivating story nights quickly spread, and The Moth moved to bigger venues in New York. Today, The Moth conducts six ongoing programs and has brought more than 3,000 live stories to over 100,000 audience members.
“Why ‘The Moth’?” from the website
The screen around Wanda’s porch had a hole where moths would flutter in and get trapped in the light. Similarly, George and his friends found that the characters in their best stories would often find themselves drawn to some bright light—of adventure, ambition, knowledge—but then find themselves burned or trapped, leaving them with some essential conflict to face before the story could reach its conclusion. So George and his original group of storytellers called themselves “The Moths”. George took the name with him to New York, where he hoped that New Yorkers, too, would find themselves drawn to storytelling as moths to a flame. They did. With no advertising, through sheer word of mouth, every show to date has sold out in 48 hours or less.
Oh, and after you listen, I’d LOVE for you to share your favorites below in the comment section—share which ones and please share WHY—why does it elicit a response, a reaction—what resonates with you? I may just have to grab some of the many books I receive from so many gifted authors and send them your way as an expression of gratitude 😉 Is that unfair—for me to just pick a particular comment and decide which one I think is worthy of a few free books? Maybe…Regardless, I encourage you to check out The Moth, enjoy…and share.
Come along as Mahbod Seraji leads us on a familiar coming-of-age journey in a distant land threatened with revolution. At times, humorous, at others, heart-wrenching. Open your experience to the universal truths of Middle Eastern culture and see the world–your world–a little differently ~ You’re bound to recognize your brother, your parents, your friend in those once nameless faces and consider ROOFTOP’s poignant message of love, courage, grief, and hope.
ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN Book Description from Mahbod’s Website:
This stunning literary debut paints a vivid portrait of growing up, discovering love, and awakening to the reality of life in a nation on the verge of revolution in the 1970s. Rooftops of Tehran opens in a middle-class neighborhood in Iran’s sprawling capital city. The rooftop of the narrator’s house – the tallest in their alley – is the perfect spot for sleeping on hot summer nights. It’s also the perfect location for stargazing, sneaking cigarettes, talking about American movies, and confiding, analyzing and agonizing through the typical trials of being a seventeen year-old boy, including being in love. This is the spot from which the narrator quietly watches his secret love, his beautiful next door neighbor Zari, promised since birth to his friend and mentor, nicknamed Doctor, a man adored and respected by the whole neighborhood. It is from this high perch that the narrator witnesses the SAVAK’s brutal hunt and arrest of Doctor and realizes the oppressiveness of the regime under which he resides. And the rooftop is where the narrator and Zari ultimately find quiet refuge in each other after the shock of Doctor’s senseless faith ripples through their close-knit community and brings about terrible, unexpected repercussions. With the candor only an Iranian can offer, Seraji’s narrative bares the enduring struggle between beauty and brutality infused into the centuries-old Persian culture while reaffirming the human experiences we all share: contentment, terror, love, helplessness, ferocity, and hope.
“On the Plane with Annette Bening” Blog Excerpt (I’m glad I got to read the rest of it after speaking with Mahbod–don’t miss the “Continue Reading” message at the bottom):
…Wow! Annette Bening in Iran, I thought to myself. I looked up and suddenly noticed a cheerful, beautiful, blond lady walking toward the snack bar, happy, carefree and relaxed, talking to the person who was walking along side of her, smiling, moving her arms—great energy for someone who like me must have woken up in the wee hours of the morning to make the damn flight! Wow, the Academy Award wining Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard, one of the most underrated actors of all time! Both their pictures were in the paper in front of me. The ladies checked out the meager snack bar counter, and settled for a cup of coffee. I have to admit, I felt a little giddy being in the same room with an Oscar winning actor, but I decided to rise above my giddiness and pretend like I hadn’t noticed her. I buried my head back in the paper. For more CLICK HERE
- Mahbod is reading CITY OF THIEVES, by David Benioff ~ Check out the “early days” Words To Mouth interview.
- Rooftops of Tehran Website
- Cliff Ravenscraft’s GSPN.tv
- Philosophers Notes
To Enter to Win a FREE Copy of ROOFTOPS:
- Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter (how winners announced)
- Leave a Comment Below telling us what piqued your interest from the interview/blog post
- Call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice mail message I can play on-air
- U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
- Deadline: June 30th, 2009 ~ midnight, EDT
~ “Thanks” to Natalie Brown for her song You Gotta Believe from the Podsafe Music Network ~
Summer on Blossom Street, Under Her Skin, Flowers on Main (Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, Sherryl Woods)
THREE GREAT SPRING PICKS!!
SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET (Debbie Macomber) When she opened her knitting store, A Good Yarn on Seattle’s Blossom Street, cancer survivor Lydia Goetz couldn’t have imagined the ways in which it would alter her life. A Good Yarn offered the recovered cancer patient her first real chance at life, and ultimately led to love and marriage. Moreover, the knitting classes held at her shop have always seemed to work restorative magic on others, too. So, after she notices that her friend Alix Turner is still smoking cigarettes, Lydia decides she’ll organize the “knit to quit” class. The skilled baker at Blossom Street’s popular French Café, Alix has been trying to give up smoking and is angry at herself for starting again. She’s cut down to five cigarettes a day, but can’t seem to kick the habit altogether. And she’ll have to if she wants to get pregnant, as she and her husband plan. Deep inside, she knows her inability to stop smoking is an avoidance mechanism so she won’t have to confront her fears about motherhood. And who can blame her? After all, her own mother was a terrible parent with absolutely no maternal instincts. What if Alix is a chip off the old block? Says Debbie, “Knitting can be a great way to keep yourself honest when giving up a habit you want to kick, cigarettes in particular. It’s not easy to manipulate two needles and a bunch of yarn while smoking a cigarette. It’s a real win-win to me.” For More Click HERE
UNDER HER SKIN (Susan Mallery) The first novel in the author’s new Lone Star Sisters series, a brand-new family saga featuring three sisters from the wealthy, dysfunctional Titan family who face the challenges of finding their way in their chosen careers, dealing with their distant and powerful father and handling the romantic relationships that may mean future happiness – or disaster. UNDER HER SKIN is Lexi’s story. Her day-spa business is doing well – until her secret investor decides to call his $2 million loan on three weeks’ notice. Lexi’s only hope is the bad boy who dumped her years before after a one-night stand. Now a successful businessman in the perfect position to help her out, his terms for repayment of the debt are not what Lexi expected. To repay the debt, she’ll have to risk her heart one more time and she’s not sure she will come out unscathed. Phoebe Rylander isn’t trying to give up something, but rather someone—specifically, her ex-fiancé, Clark Snowden. The first time Clark was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, Phoebe was devastated and brokenhearted but eventually forgave him when he swore it was a one-time mistake. But now, after being picked up on the same charge again, she’s determined to make a clean break. The problem is that Clark’s so persistent and she’s afraid her resolve might weaken. After all, as disillusioned and humiliated as she may be, she still loves him. She needs a distraction to keep her from taking him back. For More Click HERE
FLOWERS ON MAIN (Sherryl Woods) The second book in the trilogy that began with THE INN AT EAGLE POINT and continues in June with HARBOR LIGHTS. As a child, growing up in Arlington, Virginia, Sherry developed a strong love for the Chesapeake area. As an adult, living in Colonial Beach, she continues to revere her home and the feeling comes through in the strong sense of place that imbues the books. The author’s concern for the environment and the protection of the Chesapeake Bay way of life are a continuing theme that underlies the warm and moving story of three women. The three O’Brien sisters have grown up in the beautiful, planned community of Chesapeake Shores, a fictitious town built by their father and uncles. FLOWERS ON MAIN is Bree’s story. When her last two plays are dismal failures and her relationship with her temperamental mentor falls apart, the fledgling playwright abandons Chicago and the regional theater where she hoped to make a name for herself. Back home, she opens a flower shop, Flowers on Main. Engaged in a new occupation that allows her to utilize the skills learned from her grandmother, she is looking a new kind of fulfillment. But all is not peaceful and serene in Chesapeake Shores, with Bree’s estranged mother on the scene and her ex-lover on the warpath. For More Click HERE
To Enter to Win ALL three Books:
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If you’ve read any of the authors’ past releases & which ones, and
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WHY someone else should give these authors’s works a try
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U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
Deadline: June 15th, 2009 ~ midnight, EDT