All Posts Tagged With: "Interview"
A Conversation with Jeannette Katzir
Carrie: What inspired you to write BROKEN BIRDS?
Jeannette: I began to jot down notes one year before my mother ended up dying, then when she had her stroke and died the after math was so painful that I had to write. I wrote day and night to vent, then re-wrote and re-wrote. Because it was a memoir, I wasn’t able to finish the book until all the mess around me ended.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in BROKEN BIRDS?
Jeannette: It would have to be when my mother, a survivor of the Holocaust meets the supposed upper-crust of New Jersey. I called my parents the Hillbillies after the show Beverly Hillbillies (because they weren’t poor, but knew no better) and the in-laws they had come to dine with the Drysdales. Never has there been such a mismatch of personalities. The scene in the restaurant made me laugh out loud . . . and I wrote it.
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
Carrie’s Conversation with Martha Moody
Carrie: What inspired you to write SOMETIMES MINE?
Martha: The germ of the story came from a book group discussion about my first novel, BEST FRIENDS. Some women in the group were very distressed that the narrator, Clare, has an affair with her ex-husband. There are a lot of bad things done by characters in that novel, and I was impressed at the particular anger Clare’s actions evoked. I’m a physician, and I knew that two of my female patients were involved for years with married men. I didn’t see these patients as evil, but as sad and isolated. I thought, “Hmm, it would be a challenge to write about a mistress from her point of view.”
I also wanted to write about work. Genie, the narrator of Sometimes Mine, is a cardiologist and her lover, Mick, is a college basketball coach. Each of them is excellent at what they do, and each is defined and to some extent hidden by their role. Their mutual appreciation of their distinctive work and talents helps bond them. I’ve always liked this quote from the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer: “With his work, as with a glove, a man feels the universe.”
The third impetus for the novel was a story my social work mother told me when I was a teenager, in the early 70’s. One of her clients was a “maiden lady” who had lived all her life with another woman. When the client’s friend got ill and then died, the client was treated by her friend’s family not as a spouse or grieving widow, but as a simple housemate. This really magnified her loss. That story haunted me for years as an example of the power of society’s norms. In the book, when Mick moves into the realm of the sick, Genie has no defined role.
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?
Martha: I’m a slow perker.
Carrie: Give us an idea of the plot of SOMETIMES MINE without giving too much away.
Martha: SOMETIMES MINE is the story of a long-term affair of a divorced female cardiologist, Genie Toledo, and a married college basketball coach, Mick Crabbe. It tells what happens when Mick gets seriously ill and Genie is forced to confront both Mick’s family and her own illusions.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from SOMETIMES MINE?
Martha: SOMETIMES MINE is a love triangle between three very imperfect people. You’d expect things to turn out badly, but in an odd way each person becomes heroic. I’d like to think of the novel as a plea for accepting the complexity of people’s feelings and lives, and the surprising connections through which a person can gain strength.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in SOMETIMES MINE? Why?
Debbie Macomber’s Latest…
Enter to Win:
One (1) Grand Prize winner will win $50 VISA gift card to enjoy additional titles by Debbie Macomber and a copy of HANNAH’S LIST
Two (2) additional winners will receive a copy of HANNAH’S LIST!
Just Leave a Comment Below by midnight May 11th; US & Canada Residents Only (Sorry, no PO Boxes)
A grieving widower receives an unexpected gift of love from his late wife on the anniversary of her death in HANNAH’S LIST, the emotionally powerful new novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber. Connected to her bestselling Blossom Street books (SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET, TWENTY WISHES, BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET, SUSANNAH’S GARDEN, A GOOD YARN and THE SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET) this story continues her moving exploration of the complex relationships among family and friends.
A Chat with Author, Michele Young-Stone
Carrie: What inspired you to write THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS?
Michele: I set out to write a novel about a girl’s affection toward an unresponsive dad—and the consequences of that relationship. But, a fellow writer reminded me that there were a million books just like that. He asked, “What will set your book apart from the pack?” It hit me: When I was eleven, I was struck by lightning. I’ve always liked magical realism, especially when it’s grounded more so in the realism—when we’re reminded that not everything can be explained by science, so I thought, “This is my hook.” The lightning makes the main character think that she has magical powers. What little girl doesn’t naturally think she possesses some degree of magic—with our without lightning?
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?
Michele: Actually, my novel ideas start with a scene either observed or imagined, like a girl holding onto homemade wings, climbing onto a bus (from my most recent work-in-progress). From there, the characters take over and I allow the story to unfold. Sometimes it’s a mad rush where I’ve been known to write 1,000 pages to get to 100 pages.
Carrie: Give us an idea of the plot of THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS without giving too much away.
Michele: Oh boy! Two strangers, seemingly with nothing in common, are brought together by the electric force of lightning. Becca, brought up in academic affluence, and Buckley, brought up in poverty, are connected throughout their lives by the folks they meet and by this uncontrollable element—lightning—that causes him to write The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, a handbook Becca purchases.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS?
Michele: Have hope. Have faith. No matter how bleak our circumstances, there is possibility. There are things in life we can’t control, but we can control our response to those things. No one has to go with the flow. We can turn things around.
Carrie: What was the most difficult scene to write? Why?
Michele: There were multiple scenes that were difficult to write, but ultimately, it was the final scene because it was pivotal to the book’s success, and more important than word choice and pacing (elements I struggled with in other difficult chapters), I wanted a “satisfying” ending, the right ending, and for the longest time, I wasn’t sure how the book should end. I had to wait for the characters to tell me their thoughts.
Carrie: Which character do you identify with the most in THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in the book?
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?
Just as fresh, biting, and funny as The Nanny Diaries, but with the extra heart and wisdom of a few years’ experience, NANNY RETURNS brings both heroine and readers back to the exotic world of the Upper East Side—a community where appearances are everything, friendships can dissolve with the disappearance of a bank account, and children are often the casualties in the war between wealth and family.
Carrie: What inspired you to write this book?
Emma & Nicola: For years readers would ask us what happened to the characters from our first novel, but we had kind of drawn a hazy veil over them in our minds. We pictured a vague happy sunset for Nan, but didn’t let ourselves think about the little boy, Grayer, too much because we weren’t optimistic about his chances. Then last Spring we had a series of A-ha moments back-to-back and before we knew it a story had unspooled before us. We were inspired by articles we read about New York City private schools being taken over by parents who wanted to buy their children a world without consequences. Then we read about the Astor trial and something about a son turning his father in for embezzling from his mother really struck us. Of course the Madoff story was rife with gripping family dynamics, from the sons turning in their father to the father/son accounting firm that had enabled the fraud in the first place. It all got our minds churning about pulling back to look at the larger societal impact of the Upper East Side community we satirized in the first book.
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?
Emma & Nicola: We have lunch together every day before we start working and we chew over the topics of the day, paying special attention to angles of stories that aren’t being addressed. For example in 2000 we were obsessed that endless stories were running in New York City media about how hard it was for the newly rich to find decent household help, but the help was never interviewed. So if there’s a side of the story that is being underserved we’ll puzzle over that. Then we have a-ha moments when one of us will crystallize one of these topics we’ve been mulling over into a fictional story. Then Nicki gets teary and the hair on Emma’s neck stands on end and we know we’ve found our next book.
Carrie: Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.
Emma & Nicola: In Nanny Returns we are revisiting ALL the characters from the Diaries twelve years later and re-embroiling Nan back in the lives of the Xes.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Emma & Nicola: Money can’t buy it.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
So sorry that our conversation couldn’t transpire, but as a conciliation prize Sue’s publicist is providing FIVE copies of the wonderful mother-daughter memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates for five lucky winners.
Here’s a great written interview for you.
To Enter to Win:
- Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter
- Leave a comment below sharing something about motherhood, being a daughter, the complicated relationship dynamics, etc.
- U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
- Deadline: October 15th, 2009 ~ midnight, EDT
Are you a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd like me?
When I started Words To Mouth, one of my earliest blog posts talked about the excitement of one of my favorite authors/books coming to the big screen—Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. Well, now that same author and her daughter, Anna Kidd Taylor, are coming to Words To Mouth. Sue and Anna, wrote a mother-daugher memoir called TRAVELING WITH POMEGRANATES and have agreed to take a few moments out of their busy book tour to chat with me on SEPTEMBER 10th. I’m beyond thrilled ~ what an honor!
Out of the Mouths of Babes
Parenting from a Child’s Perspective
Out of the Mouths of Babes offers a unique parenting approach tailored to working with the personalities of individual children, ultimately educating parents on how to observe and appreciate every experience through the eyes of their child. Eybergen’s book highlights eight main areas:
Bedtime and Sleeping through the Night
Sibling Rivalry and Conflict Resolution
Through each chapter, Eybergen uses her background as a nurse as well as a parent, and shares stories of her own misadventures and triumphs. Eybergen cleverly uses humorous quotations from children and situations of her own that parallel her children’s experiences to help parents develop an understanding from their child’s perspective. Once parents have this understanding, they are able to provide more effective parenting techniques for any behavioral challenge.
Out of the Mouths of Babes ~ Parenting from a Child’s Perspective (Chapter 7, Discipline) Excerpt:
On Christmas Eve day, when our two older children were six and four years of age, I ran upstairs to answer the door, leaving the two of them alone in the basement. It was my best friend, dropping off some gifts. About five minutes after letting her into the house, we heard the sound of breaking glass coming from downstairs. I quickly responded to the noise and found my two boys standing near the TV entertainment unit with golf clubs in their hands. A golf ball had gone through the glass of the cabinet, and it had shattered beneath their feet. Thinking they were in big trouble, they instantly began blaming each other for what had happened, and it was obvious that I was not going to get to the truth of the matter. Frazzled, I couldn’t think fast enough to do anything, except remove the boys from harm’s way and tell them I would need time to think about what I was going to do. They retreated to their rooms, indubitably shaking in their boots, and I continued to visit with my friend.
Chat with Dyan and Carrie
For many parents, following text book strategies for childrearing can often lead to frustration or feelings of failure. Bringing over a decade of experience handling behavioral problems in kids—as well as raising her own three boys—pediatric psychiatric nurse, Dyan Eybergen, provides the roadmap to parenting children according to their unique personality in her book, Out of the Mouths of Babes. Based on attachment theory, Eybergen shows parents how to trust their intuition and eliminate the one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, providing clarity and humor to the journey of parenting.
Carrie: What inspired you to write Out of the Mouths of Babes?
Dyan: I worked as a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse for more than eight years–there wasn’t a behavioral situation that I wasn’t trained to handle. When I began having my own children I thought I was more than adequately prepared for motherhood. I learned very quickly that all my education and clinical experience taught me nothing about being a mother and the emotional ties that bind. Children are unique and cannot be parented from a one-size-fits-all paradigm.
Carrie: Tell us a bit about Out of the Mouths of Babes.
Dyan: Out of the Mouths of Babes is a collection of stories and anecdotes based on the lives of my three boys and the experiences my husband and I have had raising them. It is a humorous and candid look at parenting from the child’s perspective. I do not promise any quick fix solutions to any parenting dilemma; Out of the Mouths of Babes offers guidance to parents who may feel they have been undermined somehow by contemporary approaches and are wanting to relate to their children in a more instinctive way. It encourages parents to work within the context of relationship and parent their children in a way that compliments their individual child’s needs and personality.