All Posts Tagged With: "Fiction"
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.
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Deadline: August 1st, 2010 ~ Midnight, EST
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?
The Piano Teacher
by Janice Y. K. Lee
In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese, with terrible consequences for both of them, and for members of their fragile community who will betray each other in the darkest days of the war.
Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the colony’s heady social life. She soon begins an affair, only to discover that her lover’s enigmatic demeanor hides a devastating past. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine and converge, a landscape of impossible choices emerges—between love and safety, courage and survival, the present and, above all, the past.
Carrie’s Conversation with Janice:
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?
Janice: Percolation is definitely my process. Sometimes, I feel like I am waiting for the story to rise up from the depths of my subconscious. It can be very frustrating because I don’t feel like there’s a lot I can do to hurry the process along, that I’m not the driver of the process—that it is my subconscious. I hear of writers who have their books mapped out before they start writing, and I cannot imagine being able to do that. I wish I could. It would make my life a lot easier. So I wait, and when something comes along, a sentence, an image, a particular word, and it resonates with me, I know that it has come to drive the story forward. In this way, I accumulate the story.
Carrie: Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.
Janice: The Piano Teacher is a historical novel set in WWII Hong Kong about an Englishman and the affairs he has with two very different women before and after the war.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Janice: I don’t write with a message in mind, when I’m in process but, upon reflection (and having been asked this question many times), I think that the book might make you think about the decisions one makes in excruciating times and how those decisions may come to define you in a way that is not at all characteristic with who one is in more normal times.
Carrie’s Conversation with Seanan McGuire
Carrie: What inspired you to write ROSEMARY AND RUE?
Seanan: I’ve always loved folklore and the old fairy tales — the ones that were around before Grimm came along and “cleaned them up” to turn them into children’s stories. I was visiting the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park one day, and suddenly everything clicked together. I knew who Toby was, I knew what her problem was, and I really, really wanted to know how she was going to get out of it. Everything followed from there.
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?
Seanan: It depends on the book, really. ROSEMARY AND RUE came slowly. The second book in the series, A LOCAL HABITATION, came to me all at once, and just had to be refined from there. It’s very situational for me.
Carrie Chats with Frank Say about his book, NINE LIVES
Carrie: Why writing?
Frank: From wanting to be a fireman as an adolescent, to a medical doctor or business man during my college days, I have never had a moment, not in my wildest imagination, when I had thought of being an author. Never! I was such a miserable student for most of my life, that writing was the furthest thing from my mind. It was more of a fluke than anything else. About ten years ago, I had a strange idea that I believed would make an interesting story. I knew a few people that had done fiction, but either they were busy with something else, or didn’t want to be bothered. Since I felt I had no real talent, nor any concept how to write, the idea was put on a shelf. I did read, and when I reviewed a story, I always thought to myself, “Could I do better than this guy?” With a little encouragement from my wife, I began writing an outline. The outline turned into three handwritten notebooks. I transferred that to the PC, which people told me was called a manuscript, and from there began chasing agents and publishers all over the Internet. Alas, here we are.
Carrie: Where did the idea of NINE LIVES come from?
Frank: I had an intimate encounter with a family member’s cat a few years back. Needless to say, there was blood involved.
Carrie: Why use the name “F. Say” instead of your full name?
Frank: Complete insecurity. Not knowing the mechanics of creating a story and putting it down on paper, I was wary of how the public and media would receive NINE LIVES. I decided to take a more stealth approach the first time around.
Carrie; What’s NINE LIVES premise?
Frank: NINE LIVES is a mystery-thriller that involves the supernatural. Otherworldly happenings, restless spirits, and the occult are all part of this story.
Carrie: What is the hardest part of writing?
Frank: Finding the time. I currently have a day job that is a necessity for now. Sometimes I don’t get to writing for a month or so and I have to find that “rhythm” again. As far as the stories, that is the easy part. Strange things are always floating in my head.
To enter to win a free copy of NINE LIVES:
- Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter (how winners announced)
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- U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
- Deadline: May 30th, 2009 ~ midnight, EDT
THE SECOND OPINION
Dr. Thea Sperelakis, diagnosed as a teen with Asperger’s syndrome, has always been an outsider. She has a brilliant medical mind, and a remarkable recall of details, but her difficulty in dealing with hidden agendas and interpersonal conflicts have led her to leave the complex, money-driven dynamics of the hospital, and to embrace working with the poor, embattled patients of Doctors Without Borders. Her father, Petros, is one of the most celebrated internal medicine specialists in the world, and the founder of the cutting-edge Sperelakis Center for Diagnostic Medicine at Boston’s sprawling, powerful Beaumont Clinic.
Thea’s rewarding life in Africa is turned upside-down when Petros is severely injured by a hit-and-run driver. He is in the Beaumont ICU, in a deep coma. No one thinks he will survive. Thea must return home. Two of Petros’ other children, both physicians, battle Thea and her eccentric brother, Dimitri, by demanding that treatment for their father be withheld.
As Thea uncovers the facts surrounding the disaster, it seems more and more to be no accident. Petros, himself, is the only witness. Who would want him dead? The answers are trapped in his brain . . . until he looks at Thea and begins slowly to blink a terrifying message.
In The Second Opinion, Michael Palmer has created a cat-and-mouse game where one woman must confront a conspiracy of doctors to uncover an evil practice that touches every single person who ever has a medical test. With sympathetic characters and twists and betrayals that come from the most unlikely places, The Second Opinion will make you question…everything.
- Read an excerpt of THE SECOND OPINION
- Asperger’s Association of New England
- Autism Society of America
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Michael Palmer’s Website
Book Lookout: Daniel James Palmer, Delirium (Michael’s son, just signed a 3-book contract with Kensington)
To Enter to Win a FREE Copy of THE SECOND OPINION:
Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter (to find out who wins)
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U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
Deadline: May 15th, 2009 ~ midnight, EDT
~ As always, “Thanks” to Natalie Brown for her song You Gotta Believe from the Podsafe Music Network ~
Upon editing my chat with Josh, I realized this interview is as much for writers as it is readers. Josh, folds his life philosophies and his writing tips adeptly into MATRIMONY and our interview. He is an engaging conversationalist and a natural teacher, not to mention, of course, a gifted writer.
How would you summarize Matrimony?
Jonathan Franzen once said that the better a novel is, the more difficult it is to summarize. The protagonist in Martin Amis’s novel The Information says something similar. He’s a writer himself and he’s being interviewed about his novel and the interviewer keeps asking him what his novel is about. Amis’s protagonist, who, like many Amis protagonists, is a pretty difficult fellow, says something to the effect of, “It’s 150,000 words, and if I could have said it in any less I would have.” I sympathize. But if I had to describe Matrimony, I’d say it’s about the twenty-year history of a marriage (it’s about two marriages, actually–arguably three) and that it’s about love and friendship, and the pleasures and perils that attend to those things. More generally, the novel is about what it’s like to be in your twenties and thirties–even your forties in some cases–when you’re waiting for life to begin and you find to your surprise that it already has begun and that the decisions you make have consequences that you’re not even aware of yet. This is particularly pronounced in the case of my protagonists, Julian and Mia, since they get married at twenty-two, right out of college, and find themselves a year later living in Ann Arbor among friends for whom marriage is the last thing on their minds. College towns can perpetuate an eternal adolescence–I know; I’ve lived in a lot of them. And there’s a real divide between married people and single people, the way further down the line there’s an even bigger divide between people who have children and people who don’t. So Julian and Mia have done what seems like the supremely adult act–getting married–even as in other ways they are far from fully formed. This is certainly true professionally. Julian is struggling to finish his novel; Mia is slogging away on her psychology dissertation. In that sense, the book is about what happens when life calls even when you’re not ready for it to come calling. Read an Excerpt
Josh’s advice about writing that first draft:
“Write by hand…to move forward and not back” and “Write, write, write and read, read READ!”
Oops, one question from Mari I missed (Thank goodness Josh was willing to answer via email):
Mari: The dialog was so meaningful throughout the book, I would like to know if the author was able to reflect his life (did his parents share tidbits of wisdom or is this his creativity)? Here’s an example: Page 59 – “My father’s always saying that college is the great equalizer. Here, we’re all taking the same courses and eating the same meals. But then we graduate and gravitate toward our own kind.” What a strong statement/wisdom. I noted several phrases in the book that read like “ah-ha” moments to me.
Josh: That’s a great question. That actual line of dialogue, like all the dialogue I wrote–like everything in MATRIMONY, in fact–is made up. but a writer is always on the lookout, always thinking, always observing, and you absorb the things that people say to you. Certainly my parents shared tidbits of wisdom with me over the years. It’s hard to imagine a parent who doesn’t, and perhaps my parents especially–my father was a professor for 50 years, so teaching came naturally to him, and to my mother as well, even if in a different way. But neither of my parents ever said that line of dialogue. Almost everything I write comes to me only at the moment I write it, though of course there are years of having lived and thought about things stored away somewhere in the recesses of my brain. In general, I love writing dialogue. How people speak characterizes them so deeply. it’s interesting to me (and pleasing) that you chose the line of dialogue you did. It’s not a major moment in the novel, it would seem, but to me it is a major moment and one that I often bring up when I talk with book clubs. I’m more than twenty years out of college now, and I’m struck by how different many of my college friends are from what they were like in college, but how similar they are to what they were like before college, and to what their parents are like. I think college is a time of real experimentation for a lot of people. Economic concerns, while still present, may be less pressing than they are later, and so people are more on the same playing field. It’s the great equalizer, as Carter’s father says. And in some ways, though I didn’t realize it as I was writing the book, this idea, this tension, is the driving force behind everything that happens in MATRIMONY. You take a couple that meet in college, you take friends that meet in college, and you subject them to what life is like after college, and interesting things happen. What is it like to fall in love in college and to try to stay in love many years later? That, to me, is what MATRIMONY is about.”
Josh’s Suggested Reading:
- Empire Falls, Richard Russo
- Cost, Roxana Robinson
- Helen Garner
- Lorrie Moore
- Mystery Ride, Robert Boswell
- The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
Josh enjoys discussing MATRIMONY with book clubs, so be sure to check out his website for details.
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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: April 30th, 2009 ~ midnight, EST
COLD PURSUIT Synopsis (Read Excerpt)
New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers leads readers into a
deadly chase, where the right step can lead to the truth…and a single misstep spells disaster.
A prominent ambassador is killed in a suspicious hit-and-run in Washington, D.C. Hours later, his stepdaughter vanishes in the mountains of northern New England. Back in her hometown of Black Falls, Vermont, to do damage control on her career, Secret Service agent Jo Harper is drawn into the search. But her efforts face an unexpected challenge: Elijah Cameron. With his military training and mountain rescue experience, Elijah knows the unforgiving terrain better than anyone. But he and Jo have been at odds forever—and Elijah believes the missing teenager isn’t just lost…she’s on the run. Forced to work together, Jo and Elijah battle time and the elements in a race into the unforgiving mountains. The twists and turns awaiting them will take them closer to the explosive truth…and into the sights of a killer.
To Enter to WIN a FREE Copy of COLD PURSUIT:
Call 206-309-7318 & Leave a voice mail message I can share on-air AND Leave a comment below
Deadline for entry: March 31st, midnight, EST
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- MJ Rose’s latest, THE MEMORIST
- **If you like time travel, check out The Time Traveler’s Wife and read an excerpt
Read an excerpt of Carla’s latest, BETRAYALS
“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.” Jordin Sparks
Carrie: What motivated you to write Ruby Among Us?
Tina: I was living as a single mom in Wyoming and feeling particularly down about my situation in life when I began to think about my daughter and worry about what would happen to her if I were to die while she was still young. I asked myself the question, “What would she be told about me?”
And then like a typical writer, I expanded my questions to the hypothetical. “What if someone decided to take her away from everything that has to do with me? How would she feel? Would she try to find out about me?” And I sensed she would, so I typed out what amounted to a few paragraphs of fiction, or maybe a few pages, I can’t remember, and then I called it Ruby Among Us and closed the file. It wasn’t until I later that I pulled that file back out and it turned into a book.
Click HERE to get Melanie Lynne Hauser’s free e-book, Jumble Pie. And let me know what you think…Leave your very own “book review” in the comment section below.
From Melanie’s site:
Jumble Pie is the story of the elusive nature of friendship, sometimes clinging, other times liberating; a story for any woman who has ever lied to her best friend just to make her feel better – and who has been brave enough to tell the truth, even when it hurts. And of course, it’s a story about the remarkable healing power of pie.
This Wednesday kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ll be posting my conversation with Gail Konop Baker, author of Cancer is a Bitch. If you haven’t scheduled your mammogram, do it today! If you’re a guy, encourage the women in your life to take care of themselves.
I have an appointment TODAY! Am I looking forward to it…uh, truthfully, Heck NO! But, it’s just one of those things you can’t let slide. Do it!