What if Jesus had a wife? Sue Monk Kidd explores this and more in THE BOOK OF LONGING, plus how her primary interest was portraying humanity, how writing is an act of courage, more

By Leslie Lindsay 

An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings. 

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~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, THE BOOK OF LONGINGS (Viking, April 2020), Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana.

Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary in a much more humble abode than what she grew up knowing. Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. But greater dangers–and revelations–unfold, and Ana finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana’s fate is determined  during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, THE BOOK OF LONGINGS is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer.

I found myself questioning what I thought I knew about the Bible, the life of Jesus, and wanting to discuss this tale. Plus, I completely identified and felt for Ana, a bright, passionate woman compelled to read and write. It was interesting to me, too, to see just how contemporary a biblical tale can be.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Sue Monk Kidd to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Sue, I’m so honored to chat with you. In THE BOOK OF LONGINGS, you take an audacious approach to history in giving voice to Ana, the wife of Jesus. I always want to know: what inspired to story?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

The idea to write a novel about the fictional wife of Jesus struck me one October morning in 2014. I was sitting at my desk, reading an article in National Geographic about a fragment of an ancient manuscript that had been brought to the world’s attention by a Harvard professor. Named the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” the manuscript contains a provocative reference in which Jesus speaks of “my wife.” The fragment is now judged by most scholars to be a masterful forgery, but that would be irrelevant to the creative storm the article set off in me. My imagination was instantly ignited. Within minutes, this unknown wife had a name—Ana. I could almost picture her.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been compelled by this idea—fifteen years earlier, I’d thought of writing a novel about the wife of Jesus. At the time, I’d been exploring feminist theology for years and writing about silenced and marginalized women and the missing feminine within religion. I can only speculate that the premise for the novel bloomed out of that exploration. The idea fascinated me, but it didn’t seem like the right time to undertake it, and frankly I couldn’t quite dredge up enough courage. When the idea resurfaced all those years later, I had the feeling it had been waiting around, hoping for a second chance.

Of course, I don’t know if Jesus actually had a wife. The Bible is silent on the matter. There are reasons to support both the belief he married and the belief he didn’t marry. But believing that Jesus had a wife was never the point. What mattered to me was imagining he had a wife. I think there is a need in the human psyche to imagine this missing wife. In a way she symbolizes the missing feminine within religion.  I was inspired by how reimagining the past, creating an alternate history, so to speak, might open up new ways of seeing and thinking. The largest inspiration, however, was the character of Ana herself. If Jesus actually had a wife, she would arguably be the most silenced woman in history. I woke up every day wanting to give her a voice.

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Leslie Lindsay:

While Jesus is a prominent character in the novel, this is Ana’s story and journey. You portray her as a woman filled with longings. What is the deepest or most compelling longing in Ana’s life? What is the significance of the incantation bowl?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

It has always seemed to me that the soul speaks most clearly through longing. Whenever I begin work on a new novel, I want to know two things: who my character is and what she longs for. The essence of the entire story is contained in the answers. As I reflected on who Ana might be, a picture formed in my mind of a brilliant, rebellious, ambitious, daring young woman with rare abilities and scholarly leanings—traits and behaviors that would render her strange and out of place in her first century Galilean world. What does Ana long for? Her parents expect her to marry a bitter, older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. Her longing, of which there are many, is to write narratives, to have a voice, to be a voice. She makes her own inks and begs for papyrus and tutors. Not unlike women today, she wants to bring forth what she calls “the largeness” in herself.

While researching the novel, I happened upon a photo of an ancient incantation bowl. What captivated me about it was that over two thousand years ago a prayer had been inscribed in spiraling fashion inside the bowl. It didn’t take long for Ana to have an incantation bowl of her own. She writes her deepest longing in it and sings it as a prayer as she turns the bowl. I love having the bowl in the story because it makes her abstract longing tangible and real. It is a visible symbol of something inward and unseen. It is Ana’s longing that propels her onto her tumultuous journey, and when she loses hope, her Aunt Yaltha tells her,

“Return to your longing. It will teach you everything.”

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Leslie Lindsay:

The idea of a married Jesus goes against centuries of dogma and tradition. Did you feel any trepidation about writing a novel with this premise? How did you approach writing the character of Jesus?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

I didn’t take on writing about a married Jesus lightly. At times it may even have kept me up at night.

Sometimes in order to imagine a married Jesus, one has to dig through layers of internal resistance. There is, for instance, the tenacious old fear of stepping outside of sanctioned beliefs or of questioning religious authority. There can also be a personal reluctance to see Jesus as fully human. Or the resistance can come from a centuries-old division between spirit and flesh in which sexuality is viewed as unholy. Toward the end of the novel, Ana poses the questions, “Did they think making him celibate rendered him more spiritual?” It’s a probing question to ask ourselves.

A relatively small group of writers have written novels about Jesus—D. H. Lawrence, Nikos Kazanzakis, Norman Mailer, Jose Saramago, to name some—all of which stirred controversy and debate. I expect THE BOOK OF LONGINGS will encounter a bit of controversy, too. That’s okay. My own longing was to write this book, and that’s what I did. I once stenciled the words, Writing is an act of courage, on the stair wall that led to my study. Writing is always that; it is ultimately a series of small, daily braveries.

My primary approach in fashioning the character of Jesus was to portray him as fully human. I wanted to depict what the late historical Jesus scholar, Marcus Borg called “the pre-Easter Jesus.” It has long been a doctrine of the church that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, but over the centuries his humanity diminished as people accentuated his divinity. Writing from a novelist’s perspective and not a religious one, I was primarily interested in his humanity. And what an extraordinary human being he was. I depicted him as a rabbi, social prophet, messiah, and non-violent political resister, whose dominant message was love, compassion, inclusion, and the coming of God’s kingdom within the hearts and minds of people. Someone who read the novel told me it had stirred a new appreciation in her for Jesus and his teachings. I was touched by that.

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Leslie Lindsay:

With that in mind–the humanity, that is–the relationship you create between Ana and Jesus is a bit of love and conflict, much like any relationship. How did you envision and create their relationship?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

I tried to depict the humanity in their relationship—the common moments, the tenderness, the tensions, the humor, but most of all the love. I wanted Ana and Jesus to share an uncommon love, one of physical closeness and spiritual depth, and also one unique and singular for the time. They bring each other alive. They influence and learn from each other. They bless the largeness in each other. They give each other intimate nicknames—she calls him Beloved and he calls her Little Thunder. It felt important to me to create a relationship in which Ana meets Jesus fully as his partner, one in which she has her own magnitude and passion.

Their marriage, however, wasn’t without conflict, which is part of its human-ness. Much of the conflict is interjected by the social norms of the day, by religious dictates about women, and by the expectations of Jesus’ family. Though feminist in his leanings, even Jesus isn’t always able to override these constraints and enable Ana to abandon her domestic duties and pursue her longing. The contrast between his freedom and her confinement, among other things, becomes a quiet, and occasionally not so quiet, tension.

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Leslie Lindsay:

You did a wealth of research for this book–and you’d have to. How did you go about it? Did you uncover anything especially impactful or surprising?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

Researching a world that existed two thousand years ago was both overwhelming and exhilarating. For over a year, I filled notebook after notebook with research notes. I created story boards, watched documentaries and videotaped lectures, and gathered and read a tiny library of books on a multitude of topics: the historical Jesus, ancient Jewish betrothal and marriage, the religious, cultural, political, and geographical background of first-century Galilee and Judea, scriptural commentary, Biblical figures, Biblical archeology, Egypt, the Roman Empire, and so on. Many nights, I fell asleep with a book lying open on my chest. I often came upon some nugget that excited me and informed the plot. I vividly remember when I stumbled upon an article about the Therapeutae, a community of male and female Jewish philosophers who lived near Alexandria, Egypt at the time of Jesus—I could barely contain myself. I felt like I’d discovered a new direction for the story. It turned out I had. The same goes for the day I came across the image of the incantation bowl. As I gazed at it, the beginning of the book fell into place. I spent a great deal of time exploring the historical Jesus. I wanted to create his character based largely on that scholarship.

At times, my research was like falling down a rabbit hole. When my daughter noticed how much time I was devoting to the agricultural cycle of Galilee, she held a small intervention and gently suggested that I move on. It’s the accuracy and richness of detail that give a story its sense of authenticity. It’s what makes the world inside the novel seem real and allows the reader to disappear into it. But after a year of researching, I had to ask myself if research had become an excuse not to start the actual writing. The first twenty-five pages of a novel are always the most difficult for me. Never ending research can be an excellent way of avoiding them.


“Historical fiction page-turner… An excellent book club choice…The intensity, bravery, and strength of character of Ana, as imagined by Kidd will inspire readers but in a different way: to live authentically and remain true to oneself.”
Library Journal, Starred Review


Leslie Lindsay:

Have you been to any of the places you wrote about?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

My mother, my aunt, and I traveled in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt back in December 1979 and January1980, so long ago that I didn’t think the experience could be of any real help. However, when I read my travel journal, along with my mother’s small diary, and watched the slides in our antique projector, I realized they were a small treasure trove. There were hundreds of photographs I’d snapped of places that would turn up in the novel—the Jordan River, Nazareth, a Galilean cave, olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a bonus, I came upon photos of my now ninety-eight year old mother riding about the pyramids on a festooned camel and crossing the Petra canyon on horseback.  I’d also written dozens of passages in my travelogue describing an array of things—the streets of Jerusalem’s old city, the colors of the Nile, vineyards, date palms, faces, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the smell of just about everything from spices to camels. I wrote two pages about Galilean stones. The photographs and journal entries tapped vivid memories of landscapes, sensory details, stories, and emotions. Some of the descriptions in the novel evolved from those images and passages. I had an unexpected moment while reading my travel journal when I realized that the ancient city of Petra that I’d visited was actually the heart of the Nabatean kingdom, which would play a role in the novel. I’d been doing research on the  trip without knowing it.

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Leslie Lindsay:

You have included a number of real Biblical characters in the story, such as Jesus’ disciple, Judas and his mother, Mary. How did you go about portraying them?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

One of the biggest questions in the Christian story is why Judas betrayed Jesus. I wanted to give him a motivation for his betrayal, to humanize him, too, and cause our thoughts about him to be less black and white and more complex. In my imagined version, Judas is Ana’s adopted brother who was orphaned when his father was crucified and his mother sold into slavery after a failed Jewish revolt against the Romans, a historically real insurrection by the Jews of Sepphoris in 4 BCE. I portray Judas as a child consumed with hatred for Rome, as a radical Zealot, and an ardent disciple who believes Jesus is the messiah destined to deliver them from Rome. His betrayal of Jesus is a piece of intricate and earnest political theater. It speaks, I think, to the danger of hyper idealism, how a person overly possessed by a principle can begin to justify almost anything for his cause.

I loved having the chance to bring Mary to life on the page. I’ve had fantasies over the years of writing a one-woman play in which she tells all. Writing about her in the novel appeased at least some of that urge. My interest in her goes back to my childhood when the outdoor, life-size nativity scene at our church caught fire and our Baptist minister rushed in to save baby Jesus, leaving his mother to burn. Somehow I never forgot that.

For over twenty years, I’ve had a painting of the Black Madonna hanging over my desk. I think of her as a sacred feminine image and a kind of muse. In The Secret Life of Bees, I portrayed Mary as a powerful divine icon, inspiring women toward bravery, autonomy, dissidence, and compassion. In THE BOOK OF LONGINGS, however, Mary is utterly human. She is a kind woman with graying hair, who is often weary from chores, a mother who did a superb job on her son, who taught him a lot that she didn’t get credit for. It was gratifying to portray the human Mary, just as it’d been gratifying to fashion the mythic Mary in Bees. It was as if she’d found her other half.

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Leslie Lindsay:

I understand there was a particular question that fascinated you as you worked on the novel. How might the world have been different if Jesus had had a wife? Can you talk more about that, please? 

Sue Monk Kidd: 

As I set my imagination free to imagine Jesus not as a bachelor, but as a husband, it occurred to me that if he’d been married, history would likely have evolved differently. I found this fairly riveting. I wrote the question on a slip of paper and set it on my desk where it remained throughout the 4 ½ years I wrote the novel.

How would history have been different if Jesus had a wife who’d been part of the narrative through the centuries?

There are only speculative answers, but it seems likely that Christianity and the western world would have had a somewhat different religious and cultural inheritance. If Jesus had had a wife, a genuine partner, who had her own story, perhaps women and their stories would have found more inclusion and importance. Perhaps our relationship with sacredness and sexuality would’ve been less polarized. Sex might not have been viewed quite as sinful. And it’s a fair bet that virginity would not have become one of Christianity’s higher virtues and that celibacy within the priesthood would not exist.

And I may have only scratched the surface.

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Leslie Lindsay:

In this new novel, you’ve returned to another signature theme in your work: women’s friendships and bonds. How would you describe Ana’s relationship with her aunt Yaltha? Who are some of the other women in Ana’s life, and why is this an important and reoccurring theme for you?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

Of all the characters I’ve created in my novels, Ana’s Aunt Yaltha may be the most unique. She’s educated, fierce, impertinent, subversive, and wise, and she is Ana’s lifeline. Everything you need to know about Yaltha is summed up in these two lines from the novel:

“Her mind was an immense feral country that spilled its borders. She trespassed everywhere.

Those are perhaps my favorite sentences in the entire novel. Part of Yaltha’s role is to encourage Ana’s longings and inspire her audacity. The bond between them is a deeply woven, sacred alliance. Yaltha acts as Ana’s stand-in mother, soul friend, guide, and spiritual midwife.

Ana also has a small hive of female friends. It’s possible there is more sisterhood in this novel than in The Secret Life of Bees, and that’s saying a lot. There’s Phasaelis, who is the Nabatean wife of Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, and Tabitha, her close friend, both of whom have their own longings and perils. Ana is sustained by her friendships with Jesus’ sister, Salome and his mother, Mary, as well as others. These female characters awaken, support, inspire, and transform each other. To be fair, I should mention there are also women in the story whose relationships with Ana are vengeful and adversarial.

Like Ana, I, too, have female friends who awaken, support, inspire, and transform each other. For more than fifteen years, three friends and I have gathered annually for a week and shared our stories and blessed the ‘largeness’ in each other. These women have nurtured the creative seeds of my novels and made me braver. The bonds between women find their way into my characters’ lives because of the sisterhood in my own.

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Leslie Lindsay:

You have written several memoirs, as well as other books of fiction, and THE BOOK OF LONGINGS is a real melding of those worlds. Your memoir, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter is your personal story of religion, spirituality, and feminism and you continue that story in Traveling with Pomegranates. How do the themes and stories in these memoirs inform the novel? Are there aspects of Ana in you?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

These two memoirs seem to resonate in THE BOOK OF LONGINGS more than in any of my other novels. When my husband finished reading Longings, he surprised me by saying, “I recognized you in Ana.” Until then, I hadn’t really considered which aspects of myself I’d woven into Ana’s character and story. The obvious one is her longing to write, to have a voice in the world and create stories of women. But I also realized that Ana is engaged in a spiritual search for self, a feminist-like quest, which has overtones of my own feelings and experiences that I described in these two memoirs. Of course, feminism didn’t exist in the first century, but there were undoubtedly women in every era who yearned for the freedoms and opportunities their brothers had, who rebelled against the limitations placed on them, women with immense abilities like Ana, who “wanted for so much.”

Ana’s awakening, like mine, like most, begins with a sense of loss. In the novel, Ana says,

“I discovered that God had relegated my sex to the outskirts of practically everything.”

In The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, published twenty-four years ago, I chronicle my awareness of this very thing. The memoir describes my collision with the exclusion, devaluation, and silencing of women, with a misogyny perceived to be mandated by God. It was sort of like a two by four between the eyes.

Ana also wishes for a female image of God, for a God who looks like her. This, too, spilled into the story from my memoirs. In Traveling with Pomegranates, which I co-authored with my daughter, I wrote, among other things, about my own search for divine feminine imagery. The pages are filled with our travels to Black Madonnas in Greece and France and of her impact on me.

There are numerous ways that Ana’s longing and concerns show up in women today. I received a note from the French publisher of THE BOOK OF LONGINGS in which she wrote, saying,

“Even though the novel is set in the first century, it was one of the most modern books I read this year.”

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Leslie Lindsay:

What do you want people to take away from reading THE BOOK OF LONGINGS?

Sue Monk Kidd: 

I hope readers will consider their own longings, the ones that, like Ana’s, are held deepest inside. I would like it if a conversation got stirred in them about bringing forth their own largeness. And, as with every novel, I hope readers will take away an empathetic experience, to enter the lives of the characters and feel what it’s like, for instance, to be relegated to the peripheries or to love someone greatly.

Over the years, I’ve found that people read a book through the lens of their own experience and need. They will find their own takeaways. I trust them to do that.

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Artistic image designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Join me on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay #alwayswithabook.

For more information, to connect with Sue Monk Kidd via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE BOOK OF LONGINGS, please see: 

ORDER LINKS: 

~BOOK CONCIERGE~

I found the writing style and time frame similar in to that of Margaret George’s work, especially that of THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO and THE SPLENDOR BEFORE DARK.  In terms of other reimgained biblical tales, readers may want to look at NAAMAH (Sarah Blake) and also Anna Solomon’s THE BOOK OF V.

~READ AN EXCERPT~

 

2019033_SM-Kidd_314-266x300ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Sue Monk Kidd’s debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than six million copies in the United States, was turned into both an award-winning major motion picture and a musical, and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, was a number one New York Times bestseller and was adapted into a television movie. Her third novel, The Invention of Wings, an Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 pick, was also a number one New York Times bestseller. She is the author of several acclaimed memoirs, including The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, her groundbreaking work on religion and feminism, as well as the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates, written with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. She lives in North Carolina.

image1 (5)ABOUT YOUR HOST: 

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Forthcoming cover art to be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly, other images in Another Chicago Magazine (AJM), poetry in The Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Journal. Leslie has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

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[Cover and author image retrieved from author’s website. Special thanks to PRH/Viking publicity; portions of this interview adapted from their press materials. Image of incantation bowl retrieved from on 5.26.20. Artistic image designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Join me on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay #alwayswithabook]

Can we break the cycle of trauma and abuse? Kristi Carter talks about this, the twilight of spring, Southern identity, the struggles that make up womankind, and so much more in this luminous collection of poetry in ARIA VISCERA

By Leslie Lindsay

Such a gorgeously dark and ruminative collection of poetry focusing on one’s thick, oppressive familial heritage, and yet, a compelling light to break the cycle.

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~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

With a title like ARIA VISCERA (April Gloaming Press, May 5 2020), I could hardly resist this collection by Kristi Carter. In music, aria is defined as a singular voice, self-contained, and it also brings to mind great expansion, an origin I am not familiar with etymologically, but maybe. And of course, viscera represents the internal organs. Being a writer with a background in medicine, this collection spoke to me, quite literally, but once I dove into the pages, I discovered there was another calling: it’s about a scarred past, and how scars don’t exactly go away, but fade; it’s about finding one’s own light in dark times, of escaping the cycle of abuse, neglect, of breaking away.

Divided into four sections,
 ARIA VISCERA focuses on birth, names, anatomy, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers, life cycles; it’s also about myths and monsters (literal and metaphorical), it’s troubling and speculative and yes, self-contained, but not self-absorbed, it’s a shout in the darkness, a rise to confidence, to self-awareness.

These are deep, thoughtful pieces that will resonate with the reader, they leave a residue, a thickness that encapsulates feelings and words and experiences, so thick at times, you can chew on the words.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Kristi Carter to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Kristi, hello and welcome. I am still cogitating this visceral and compelling collection. And poetry is like that; it is sticky. The prose slips in and out, becomes a sort of ear worm; there’s a rhythm and cadence that goes along with the words. I always want to know the inspiration behind a title, but that’s easier with fiction or non-fiction. Instead, can you tell me a little about the title, ARIA VISCERA?

Kristi Carter:

Thanks for asking. I appreciate what you have already discussed bout the title—it borrows from music and the body. An aria is such a transcendent, dramatic event for a singer and/or a character in an opera (as well as the listener, one might hope), so while researching about operatic elements for fun then playing around with titles, this entered the list. As for viscera, the feminist dwellings on the policing of female bodies and my leanings toward darker aesthetics landed me on that particular word.

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Leslie Lindsay:

I’d like to ask about ‘Southern Fiction,’ because April Gloaming, the publisher of ARIA VISCERA, publishes only what they deem ‘southern.’ There’s an aesthetic to it: it’s about the land that bore you, and it’s about our connection to that land, the thick, sometimes oppressive way the ether hangs from the trees. I get that. I’m constantly reminded somewhere deep within, of that wet, aching landscape. Can you add a little more what it means to write ‘southern literature?’

Kristi Carter:

It’s such a fascinating question and I’ll do my best but it strikes me much like one being asked to describe one’s own reflection in the mirror; it’s both you yet not exactly you at the same time. All one can give is the closest understanding they have of a representation of themselves at a remove. I think all artists are subject to this when discussing their own work somewhat but before I get too vast with my answer, let me try to come down out of those ether-festooned trees you describe.

With April Gloaming, the very name of the press has to do with the twilight. The name of the press reminds me of how photographer Sally Mann describes the evening light in the Southern states she captures in her book Deep South. [I’ve linked some images I thought illustrated this just because I thought you might want to look!]

If we add the time of day, the gloaming, to the matter that it happens in April, during the sort of twilight of spring, you’re in at least two liminal zones at once. Being in-between is such a great place for generative potential, but it can also cause unrest and anguish. The history of the American South is one that rotates around the death and rebirth of identity, but not necessarily the replacement of what’s come before. In fact, erasing or forgetting the important failures of the South means to not truly understand what the South is.

There’s a lot of trauma that makes up Southern identity. The south itself is a region with contested parameters—cue the great state debates. It’s also built out of horrific human slavery and defeat, yet it happens to contain some of the most beautiful parts of our nation. It is inherently problematic, complex and bruised.

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Leslie Lindsay:

In terms of the themes that flow through ARIA VISCERA, I made a list of words that struck me. This could just a Rorschach-like insight into my brain, but here they are: ash, gold, mirror, truth, name(s), birth, grey, womb, mother, cleave, parallel, daughter. Maybe I was just glomming onto those words for my own reasons. Can you talk about that, please? What themes you were exploring and is there any accuracy to my list?

Kristi Carter:

I like the idea of the reader’s interpretation being a Rorschach test. The poem exists as itself yet, simultaneously, the reader inserts a part of herself into the poetry that forms a new meaning. I don’t mean to make it sound like my poems are ambiguous, I would even argue they’re quite direct, but I just want to emphasize that I admire your interaction with the poetry.

As for those words, most of them look similar to a list I’d make myself if I was forced to pin down those I use the most throughout the book, however, I’m surprised to see “grey” and “parallel” on this list. It makes complete sense, and yet, those two words almost look innocuous when listed next to the others. Little toothless snakes. However, of course they aren’t toothless at all, but I think they stand out here because the rest are so blatantly tied to tangible imagery used in the ways, the narratives, we create as we try to make sense of history, time and myth.

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Leslie Lindsay:

There are many mother-daughter poems in this collection. They are dark, ruminative, and resonate. My mother and I had a tumultuous relationship at best, and I get the sense you did/do, too.  There’s even a line that says, ‘I hope you have a daughter who hates you as much as you seem to hate me.’ I gasped aloud when I read that. Someone told me that once. I’m guessing the same is true for you? Can you tell us more, please?

Kristi Carter:

Thanks for sharing that reaction. I would even venture that most daughters have had some kind of similar interaction with their mothers or the person that raised them the most closely. It’s always validating to see that moment happen in books because for most people, it’s not something that naturally comes into daily conversation.

It’s important to recognize that not only are there struggles that make up what it means to learn about womanhood, often via one’s mother, but that those struggles are legitimate rather than the punchline of some misogynist joke.

As for me, there’s definitely some personal history to it, but suffice it to say there is and always has been, mutual strife.

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Leslie Lindsay:

But—there’s light here, too. In “Inheritance of Ochre,” you write:

“I fled the cave of family, and on my exit, rolled the stone over the path to the chthonic womb you so hoped I’d pass down through closing the circle of ritual. You hoped, like yours, my hands would ring the neck of the next daughter who […]the curse[…] only release her from the jagged lines once someone inherits it from her.”

I’m thinking this is about breaking the cycle, finding one’s one light and saying, ‘look! I’m not like you.’

Kristi Carter:

Ha! One can only hope, right? Your interpretation is so inspiring because it’s a double-edged thing, wondering if one can break any cycle at all, and of course, how. In so many ways, there are things I will never know (because I will never be told) about my own mother, so in some ways the poems do map out the reaching for the light but also, the possibility that such light might exist for me, even if it did not for her.

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Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Kristi, thank you for this. I am so grateful to have connected. Before we go, can you talk a little about what’s obsessing you now? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Kristi Carter:

Well, the current state of the world during COVID is terrifying which does take up a lot of my energy. As a contingent professor of undergrads, I fear for their education and welfare, as well as my own job security (and the general state of higher education in this country). Other than current affairs, I’m working on a teaching resource, TransNarratives: Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, with my co-editor James Brunton due to come out in May 2021. I am always obsessed with coffee and reading. I’m looking forward to reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s newest book because I deeply admire her writing. Thanks again for having me!

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Artistic image of cover designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Join her on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

For more information, to connect with Kristi Carter via social media, or to purchase a copy of ARIA VISCERA, please visit: 

Order Links: 

2020-05-08 (2)ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Kristi Carter is the author of Aria Viscera (April Gloaming), Red and Vast (dancing girl press), Daughter Shaman Sings Blood Anthem (Porkbelly Press) and Cosmovore (Aqueduct Press). Her poems have appeared in publications including So to Speak, poemmemoirstory, CALYX, Hawaii Review, and Nimrod. Her work examines the intersection of gender and intergenerational trauma in 20th Century poetics. Currently, she is editing, along with James L. Brunton, a collection for students consisting of scholarly and creative work on trans* studies and experiences, set for publication in 2021. She holds a PhD from University of Nebraska Lincoln and an MFA from Oklahoma State University.

image1 (5)ABOUT YOUR HOST: 

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Forthcoming cover art to be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly, other images in Another Chicago Magazine (AJM), poetry in The Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Journal. Leslie has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

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[Cover and author image courtesy of April Gloaming and used with permission. Artistic image of cover designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Join her on Instagram@leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook]

10-year old environmental activist, creative girl, and bookworm pens diary-style book of vintage clothing during a rainy ‘boring’ summer in LEGENDS FROM MOM’S CLOSET featuring inspiration from fashion icons

By Leslie Lindsay 

10-Year-Old Girl Uses Imagination and Vintage Fashion to Emulate Female Icons

lesson in using creativity and learning at home. 

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~BOOKS ON MONDAY| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

My 15-year old daughter, Kate, regularly states she wishes we lived in a large, Victorian home with an attic filled to the rafters with vintage clothing. Girl after my own heart. I think she’d get along great with Sasha, the 10-year-old author of LEGENDS FROM MOM’S CLOSET (BCH, May 19, 2020). When this book came across my desk, I knew I had to share it.

Here’s the quick take: Sasha Olsen was forced to spend a summer indoors because of rainy weather, but she refused to spend all her time in front of a screen. Instead, she read through a stack of books detailing the lives of famous women throughout history. From Frida Kahlo and Audrey Hepburn to Billie Holiday and Joan Jett, Sasha’s imagination began to run wild as she learned about these accomplished and creative women who had become legends.

Soon, Sasha was in her mom’s closet picking through her clothes and her grandmother’s vintage pieces to dress up like all the women she had been reading about. In LEGENDS FROM MOM’S CLOSET, Sasha recreates the looks of her favorite female icons, from dresses to lipstick to hairstyles. She also offers highlights of their lives that she learned about while reading.

Complete with photos of the looks she created and tips for other young girls on how they can emulate these iconic women, LEGENDS FROM MOM’S CLOSET will inspire kids to use their creativity at home, spending time to delve into the lives of truly remarkable people from the past to learn a thing or two about what it means to be legendary today.

But first, join me in conversation with Sasha Olsen: 

Leslie Lindsay:

Hi Sasha. Welcome and congratulations! In your book, Legends from Mom’s Closet, you share tidbits about and dress up like legendary women you read about during a rainy summer spent indoors. A lot of kids your age would spend a rainy summer watching TV or playing video games. What made you decide to start reading books about famous women?

Sasha Olsen: 

Well, I actually love to read, especially biographies. I don’t usually spend a lot of time
using any devices. I didn’t specifically start reading books about famous women, but I
started looking around for books to learn more about legendary people. I just happened
to meet these iconic women through their amazing stories and spending a day in their
shoes!

Leslie Lindsay: 

Who did you most enjoy reading about? 

Sasha Olsen: 

My favorite legend to read about was probably Frida Kahlo! I felt like she had a very
inspiring story. She had a lot of difficult times in her life, but no matter what, she
worked hard to achieve her dreams and become an artist.

Leslie Lindsay: 

There are so many things we can learn from past role models and history itself. What are some of the biggest lessons you learned from getting to know all of these female legends?

Sasha Olsen:

I learned many lessons! Most of all though, I learned that women are super strong.
Women work very hard and can get through anything that might stand in their way of
achieving their goals. Women are so inspiring!

creative female artisan drawing in workshop
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I love your creativity and willingness to ‘try-on’ new looks and roles. What ultimately inspired you to use your mom’s clothes and your grandmother’s vintage pieces to recreate all of their iconic looks?

Sasha Olsen: 

Actually, I just went into my mom’s closet and started trying on her shoes and dresses.
This was after I read about Frida Kahlo. So, I just got the idea to try and dress up as her! I
thought my mom might be really upset with me for playing with her things, but she
loved the idea. If the legend was wearing something like I really couldn’t figure out
where to get, I would call my grandma for advice. Most of the time, she had exactly
what I needed!

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Leslie Lindsay:

Who was your favorite legend to dress up as and why?

Sasha Olsen: 

Definitely Yayoi Kusama. I love her bright artwork, and I was able to get even more creative to dress up as her!

Leslie Lindsay:

There are so many strong, creative women in art–and history–how did you decide which legends to include in LEGENDS FROM MOM’S CLOSET?

Sasha Olsen: 

Well…I didn’t choose them beforehand. I just started to read about people who I didn’t know much about yet and it ended up being all women! After, I just decided to share them in this book.

Leslie Lindsay:

Your other passion is the environment. Can you tell us what you learned about vintage fashion versus ‘fast fashion, please?

Sasha Olsen: 

When I was started my movement Iwantmyoceanback and this project, I was doing a lot of research during that time. I wanted to know more about what are the biggest things that pollute our oceans and cause problems for our planet. I found out like clothing is one of the biggest ocean pollutants and some fabrics, like polyester, have plastic in them so it breaks down and hurts our sea animals. After finding this out, I realized that it’s very harmful to buy fast fashion because people just buy the clothes and throw them away soon after. It inspired me to learn more about vintage and how we can buy secondhand instead, and just reuse clothing!

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Leslie Lindsay:

Ultimately, what do you hope your readers take away from your book?

Sasha Olsen: 

I hope readers learn how important it is to let your creativity run wild! But I also want other kids to know that we can get inspired and have fun while also learning new things and growing our knowledge. It’s also very important that we learn more about how fast fashion affects our oceans and that we stop it! We need to win the war against fast fashion to help save the planet.

Leslie Lindsay:

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the book or what you learned while writing it?

Sasha Olsen: 

I just want to share that this book project is super special to me! It means a lot, and I worked very hard on it. I hope that everyone enjoys my stories and experiences dressing up as these legendary women. Most of all, I hope readers try it themselves and that it inspires them to think outside the box! I learned a lot from reading and getting to know these women, especially that we can do anything if we believe in ourselves.

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For more information, to connect with Sasha Olsen via social media, or to purchase a copy of LEGENDS FROM MOM’S CLOSET, please visit: 

Order Links: 

Book Details: Best for children in grades 2-3, hardcover with photos and illustrations, 116 pages.

SashaOlsenABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Sasha Olsen is an author, environmental activist, ballroom dancer, bookworm, pianist, and enjoys anything artistic. She always finds new hobbies and things to do, which usually ends up in her trying to juggle everything. She lives with her family in Bal Harbour, Florida, where she also spearheads the conservation movement “I Want My Ocean Back.” Legends From Mom’s Closet is her first book.

 

 

 

IMG_6816ABOUT YOUR HOST: 

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Forthcoming photography to appear in Up the Staircase Quarterly and Another Chicago Magazine; poetry to appear this summer in Coffin Bell Journal. Leslie has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

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#nonfiction #fashion #creativity #icons #women #history #vintagefashion #children #girls #LegendsFromMomsCloset #SashaOlsen #ChildrensBook #BooksForKids #KidLit #KidsWhoRead #bookstagram #KidAuthor #ChildAuthor #vintagefashion #femaleicons#femalelegends #alwayswithabook

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[Cover and author image courtesy of PRbytheBook and used with permission. Frida Kahlo image retrieved from on 5/6/20]

 

Heading to college this fall? Dr. Grimes is with you every step of the way in her no-nonsense, on-point ULTIMATE COLLEGE STUDENT’S HEALTH HANDBOOK: From Homesickness to Hangovers, plus what to pack, how to stay fit, more

By Leslie Lindsay

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, THE ULTIMATE COLLEGE STUDENT HEALTH HANDBOOK: Your Guide to Everything from Homesickness to Hangover by Dr. Jill Grimes is a must-have for the college Freshman. 

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~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Recognized by

CNN~Health Baylor College of Medicine~CBS ~AAFP~ Doctors Radio NYU ~Glamour~ Reach MD~ Fox News ~ Health 

College students facing their first illness, accident, or anxiety away from home often flip-flop between wanting to handle it themselves and wishing their parents could swoop in and fix everything. Advice from peers and “Dr. Google” can be questionable. THE ULTIMATE COLLEGE STUDENT HEALTH HANDBOOK: Everything from Homesickness to Hangovers by Jill Grimes, M.D., (Skyhorse, May 2020) provides accurate, trustworthy, evidence-based medical information (served with a dose of humor) to reduce anxiety and stress and help set appropriate expectations for more than 50 common issues.

What if you can’t sleep well (or can’t sleep at all) in your dorm-room? What if a pill “gets stuck” in your throat? What if your roommate falls asleep (or passes out) wearing contacts, and wakes up with one painfully stuck? Your friend’s terrible sore throat isn’t Strep or Mono? What else could it be? What if everyone from your group project thinks they’re coming down with the flu the day before your presentation?

Dr. Jill Grimes has the answer to these questions and many more. Her guidebook is designed to help you:

  • Decide if and when to seek medical help
  • Know what to expect when you get there
  • Plan for the worst-case scenario if you don’t seek help
  • Learn how you can prevent this in the future
  • Realize what you can do right now, before you see a doctor
  • Understand the diagnostic and treatment options

The topics of tattoos, smoking, vaping, pot, piercings, and prescription drugs will also be tackled throughout the pages of this handbook, ensuring you, your roommates and your friends have a healthy semester.

I love the ease and accessibility of this book, and the fact that Dr. Grimes’s daughter, Nicole illustrated it!Don’t you think this, along with a few gift cards to favorite college-town eateries, would make a fab high school graduation gift?

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Dr. Jill Grimes to the author interview series: 

Leslie Lindsay:

This guide really couldn’t have come at a better time in our world as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m sure that wasn’t exactly the inspiration. Can you tell us what initially inspired you to write The Ultimate College Student Handbook?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

Around ten years ago, I started making personalized first aid kits as high school graduation gifts. Initially I included one index card with “cheat notes” about which medications to take when, but this expanded steadily as I tried to include answers to common texts that I received from these kids throughout the year. Before long, I was up to a twenty page booklet, and I realized I really needed to expand to an actual book. I’m continually delighted when parents tell me their now “grownup” kids are still asking for “first aid kit refills” even several years after their college graduation!

Leslie Lindsay:

I really love that. What a smart–and thoughtful–idea. What is the best advice that parents can give their child before going off to college for the first time?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

College will likely be the best years of your life so far…BUT there will still be bad DAYS and even weeks thrown in the mix. Many students have such high expectations that when the first disappointments hit (especially not making the club/Greek org they wanted, their first bad grade, not liking their roommate) it feels twice as devastating. Also, at first, join everything! Don’t wait for the “perfect” group. This is your chance to explore everything from political to service to quirky art clubs, and a wonderful time to meet people with totally different backgrounds and perspectives. As you settle in, you will quickly figure out which ones you enjoy and which ones you should drop.

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Photo by Daniel Nieto on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

If a parent, well-meaning friend, neighbor, or relative wanted to pack a first-aid kit for a college student, what should they include?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

Be sure you look for the bonus DIY first aid kit section in The Ultimate College Student Handbook for the full shopping list and instructions, but start with a mid-range priced oral digital thermometer (around $8-12), an ACE wrap, “good” bandaids for fingers/heels, Tylenol, Advil,  topical steroid cream (hydrocortisone), antibiotic cream/ointment (like Neosporin), a copy of your health insurance card and the date of your student’s last tetanus shot (plus ideally a copy of all their immunizations). [Tip: If you’re not the parent putting this together, you might have to ask for some of these details.]

Leslie Lindsay:

I know that when I went away to college there were a few items I simply hadn’t thought of and weren’t on any list I uncovered (at the time). For example: paint brushes (we could paint our dorm rooms school-approved colors, but that’s not exactly medically-related). What are five unexpected items that every college student should pack for college?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

    1. Prescription glasses if you have them! (even though they only wear contacts, BRING THEM because with pink eye or any other eye problem, they will need their glasses and frequently students tell us it never crossed their mind to bring them to campus.)
    2. Heating pad- doubles as a heated blanket in cold climates, plus great for female menstrual cramps or back pain in anyone.
    3. Old fashioned reusable ice bag
    4. Small lock box for medications (especially if on ADD meds)
    5. Small tool kit (scissors, hammer, tape- invaluable on move in day!)
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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I remember being ill for the first time away from home. All I wanted was my own bed, a bowl of soup, and to not have roommate. Some of those things you just can’t get around. What would you say are some of the most common medical issues that college students have? Any advice on how to prevent these things?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

Challenging to summarize- but here are a few highlights:

    1. Infections (Colds, flu, strep throat, mono, food poisoning, “stomach flu”,  STDs):
      1. Hand washing (full 20 seconds with soap! We can thank COVID that now everyone actually knows this!)
      2. Flu shot each year.
      3. Condoms/barriers every single time if sexually intimate in any fashion.
    2. Injuries (Sprains, fractures, concussions, lacerations and scrapes):
      1. Stop rushing! Bike accidents, trips, falls are all far more common when students push it till the last minute (too many snooze buttons) and race to class.
      2. Intoxication is the other common culprit- mostly alcohol and pot.

Pro tip: becoming a more “awake” intoxicated person (by adding caffeine or nicotine) does NOT improve your reflexes nor decrease your chance of injury. You’re still an intoxicated person with impaired reflexes and judgment.

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Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

“As a pediatrician and child health expert, parents look to me for trusted advice. I whole-heartedly recommend The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook, an accurate, practical guide that will help your kids deal with unexpected illnesses, injuries, and anxieties (and will give you answers for their late-night texts). Definitely my new go-to high school graduation gift!”

Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, bestselling author and parenting expert


Leslie Lindsay:

One of my best girlfriends went away to college and was terribly homesick. Not just missing home, but literally making herself ill with anxiety and missing the comforts of home. Any tips for getting over homesickness?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

GET INVOLVED with “everything” that might interest you initially, and volunteer for leadership positions like on dorm councils or freshman rep spots in club executive boards. The more involved you are (and the less time you spend in your dorm room), the less homesick you will be. Also, limit your social media browsing, because FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is quicksand, and seeing all your old friends looking “insta-perfect”-ly happy on all their posts (the same as you do on yours, by the way!) makes you feel left out.

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Photo by ICSA on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Another friend of mine was determined *not* to gain the Freshman Fifteen. She exercised a lot (and well, that became another problem), but what exactly is the Freshman Fifteen and how does one avoid it? 

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

The “An Ounce of Prevention” topic goes into more detail, but briefly:

  1. Recognize the cause:
    1. College socializing initially revolves around high calorie, convenience/delivery foods like pizza and cookies
    2. Liquid calories are the biggest culprit- from Starbucks lattes or sodas to beer, margaritas and vodka shots.
    3. Activity level drops dramatically from high school for most students- especially dancers, traditional athletes (football, basketball, track) and marching band.
  2. Be proactive with prevention:
    1. Join intramural sports (great for socializing too!)
    2. “Count” liquid calories and balance with increased activity
    3. Have accountability- weigh or try on a pair of non-stretchy shorts or jeans every Sunday night
    4. Plan study breaks around walking with a friend (rather than playing games on your phone or grabbing a candy bar)
    5. Consider twice/month personal training sessions at your university gym (many offer great student pricing!)
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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Here’s another story: my then-boyfriend became very preoccupied with homework, perfection; he struggled to settle on a major and insisted on writing only in pencil because, ‘things can change.’ He persevered and devolved. I took him to the student health center. We called his mother, who was a nurse. He got on medication. How can students take care of themselves mentally? Do you have any suggestions for managing stress?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

Anxieties are super common- from fear of using public bathrooms (often leading to constipation and stomach pain) to text anxiety and/or fear of public speaking. Much to say, but again, a few highlights:

  1. Do NOT wait till you crash and burn to seek help!! This is true whether it means going to tutoring for a class you’re struggling with or to counseling to figure out strategies to help with public speaking or other fears. Trust me, professors know the most successful college students by their first names, because those are the kids that show up for tutorials.
  2. Insomnia may be the most common warning sign- go in and talk to your doctor if you cannot fall asleep or if you wake up early and can’t go back to sleep. It’s virtually impossible to deal with anxiety if you can’t get a decent night’s sleep.
  3. Daily aerobic exercise (30 minutes of anything that elevates your heartrate- walking, biking, elliptical, zumba, basketball…) is equivalent to a low dose of an antidepressant! So important to help relieve stress.
  4. Many students consciously or unconsciously try self-medicating with alcohol or pot…which makes things worse. Bottom line: although these substances are sedating in their immediate action, they actually exacerbate insomnia (cause poor quality, unrestful sleep) and often very significantly worsen anxiety.

Leslie Lindsay:

Dr. Grimes, thank you. This is so informative and helpful. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Jill Grimes, M.D.:

There are a few topics I included because students can’t be concerned about what they don’t know is a potentially serious issue- like when back pain and shortness of breath with no injury might be a partially collapsed lung, or chest pain in someone taking female hormones (like birth control) could be a potentially lethal blood clot in your lungs. Rest assured these events are far less common, but we never want to miss one.

Additionally, I really hope parents will take the time to read “Smoking, Vaping, and What You Might Not Know About Pot”[in the book] because trust me, things have changed in twenty or thirty years, and I’d like everyone to be on the same page. Ditto for the chapters on tattoos, piercings, STDs and sexual assault. My hope is to spark mature, informed discussions about these topics to best prepare our kids for the college environment and beyond.

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Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Join her on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook.

For more information, to connect with Grimes, M.D., via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE COLLEGE STUDENT HEALTH HANDBOOK, please visit: 

Order Links: 

QTSG9PX4ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Jill Grimes, MD, is PASSIONATE about PREVENTION. As a proud Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, her practical and evidence-based advice covers all ages, genders and body parts. Dr. Grimes enjoys educating in and out of her exam rooms. She shares her message across all media platforms, from print magazines and online forums, to radio talk shows and television.

Dr. Grimes was a National Merit and President’s Endowed Scholar at Texas A&M University, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of ’87 (Whoop!) She earned her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, and completed her family medicine residency in Austin, TX, in 1991. After twenty years of private practice in Austin, Dr. Grimes now works part time on campus at the University of Texas University Health Services. As a parent of college students herself, Dr. Grimes is especially empathetic to the medical challenges these young people experience.

Dr. Grimes is excited to be part of the team launching  KnowYourMeds in 2018, an app designed to help patients become more informed about their medications and better able to communicate with their healthcare providers.Dr. Grimes joined the UMASS medical school faculty as a clinical instructor in 2000, through an innovative internet-based ethics course that connected medical students with practicing family doctors across the country. In 2006, Dr. Grimes became a contributing author and member of the editorial board for the 5-Minute Clinical Consult textbook, and then served as an associate editor for the 2010-2015 editions. Dr. Grimes authored the award-winning Seductive Delusions: how everyday people catch STDs, which converted an awkward and boring subject to an engaging, educational resource. NOW AVAILABLE: Dr. Grimes’ upcoming humorous and evidence-based book“The ULTIMATE College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness”

ABOUT YOUR HOST: 

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Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) and former Mayo Clinic child/adolescent psychiatric R.N.. Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, other photography in Another Chicago Magazine (ACM), poetry in the Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine; the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available late this summer. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

~Updated, 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA coming late summer 2020~

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#alwayswithabook #college #health #students #handbook #stayinghealthy #firstaid #gradgift #freshman15 #whattopack #mentalhealth #TheUltimateCollegeStudentHealthHandbook

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[Cover and author image courtesy of PRbytheBook and used with permission. Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Join her on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook] 

 

Can we save a library? Janie Chang talks about this, the Sino-Japanese war, being a refugee, COVID-19, her fascination with myths & folklore, and so much more in her new novel, THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS

By Leslie Lindsay 

Based on true events of the Sino-Japanese war, THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS is a poetic and compelling piece of historical fiction.

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~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Blending history and beautiful imagery, plus Chinese myth and folklore, THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS (WilliamMorrow, May 12 2020) brings the past to light in this atmospheric tale. This is a captivating saga of a young woman traveling across China with a convoy of student refugees, fleeing the hostiles of a brutal war with Japan. Here is where I knew little of this piece of history. But this is all based on true events, taking place during WWII.

It’s 1937 and Japanese bombs fall on the city of Nanking when 19-year old Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University are ordered to flee. Together, along with about one hundred students, and staff, Lian must walk a thousand miles to safety while protecting a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as “The Library of Legends.”

Unexpected bonds develop on this pilgrimage…a cautious romance, but also death and skepticism, a reunification, and more.


The Library of Legends is a gorgeous, poetic journey threaded with mist and magic about a group from a Chinese university who take to the road to escape the Japanese invasion of 1937 – only to discover that danger stalks them from within. Janie Chang pens pure enchantment!”

– Kate Quinn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress


I found the myths and folklore fascinating from both a cultural and literary standpoint, historical, too.

THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS is about self-preservation, but also family and close bonds; in a sense, it’s about ‘chosen family’ and also a little of group behavior –what happens when individuals are seemingly thrust together under adverse situations.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Janie Chang to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Janie, hello and welcome. I understand you were inspired to write THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS because of your father’s stories of his life as a refugee student traveling with his school, much like Lian. Can you talk more about what made you take the leap with telling this story? And also—just to be clear—while this is based on true events, it’s fiction.

Janie Chang:

Thank you for inviting me, Leslie! And to your second question, yes – while the historical events are absolutely true, and some of the incidents during the students’ journey are based on family stories and absolutely true, it is definitely a work of fiction.

As for taking the leap, well at any point in time, authors have about a dozen stories swimming around in our brains and honestly I’m never quite sure why one of them will surface and insist that they become your next book. In this case, I think it began with the refugee situation out of Syria – does anyone remember when that was the big global dilemma before Covid-19? And it made me think about the stories my father told me about his university years, when he was a refugee in his own country. His campus had to evacuate Nanjing before the Japanese attacked, and he walked a thousand miles with his classmates and professors, fleeing westward deeper into China, away from the invasion.

But I felt that the story of a refugee campus, even though the premise was compelling, still lacked the cohesion of a deeper theme. But I went ahead and began doing some research. Then I came across the account of a university that carried a set of rare books to safety.  Immediately I knew this was the thread I needed to tie their journey to the profound changes taking place in China. A priceless library being taken into exile – could there be anything better-suited or more versatile to use as a symbol?

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I have to admit to being pretty naïve about this time in history. Most of what I’ve read (or watched) about WWII is set in Europe. I knew nothing about the Sino-Japanese War. And so, thanks for educating me. Are you finding that to be the case with other readers?

Janie Chang:

Don’t feel bad. I’m sure if we had grown up and gone to school in Asia, most of what we read and watched about WWII would be set there! People with parents who lived through the war in China would know about the evacuation of universities. My friends who grew up in Taiwan and China know. But outside China, it’s practically unknown. Some of my friends who are second-generation Chinese-Canadians didn’t know about this chapter in history.

And to be honest, before I started researching this book in earnest I only had a sketchy idea about that period of history – the sequence of events, the politics, how the massive refugee crisis during the war affected people’s thinking as well as their lives.

Plus there isn’t a lot that’s been written in English or translated. I hunted for books about the evacuation of Chinese universities and found a few memoirs compiled by former students, their experiences echoing my father’s. I learned that 77 of China’s 114 universities became refugee campuses. In a time of war and desperate shortages, this was a major undertaking to preserve the country’s cultural and intellectual legacy. It speaks volumes about the Chinese reverence for education.

So in fact what ultimately gave me the confidence to proceed with this novel was that every time I floated the idea past a friend or another author, they were fascinated by the exodus of universities and by the idea of saving a library.

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Leslie Lindsay:

Which brings me to another point: I am reading THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our children have been asked to flee their schools (and adults from places of work), we are not in a war, per se, but the world is absolutely upside-down. Like the political and social landscape in THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS, there’s much change, controversy, fear in the world right now. What might we learn from this time? What lessons do you think THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS can impart?

Janie Chang:

Yes. In the world of the story, as in our world today, there are no guarantees that all the things you do to keep yourself safe will work; the situation changes every day. The students’ refugee experience is very specific if you think about it. Unlike individuals or families trudging along the road on their own, they belong to a larger community – their university – and they share a common purpose beyond just reaching safety. They are protecting the Library of Legends. And they are completing their education, which is their duty to their families and to the nation, because the government regarded these educated young adults as the people who would help rebuild China once the war was over.

My hope is that we draw closer to our communities rather than grasp at what we can for ourselves and our immediate families. That we offer each other moral and material support. That because of community and a shared purpose, we will come out the other side as better people in a better country.

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Leslie Lindsay:

I love the idea of protecting books. Which books do you go to time and time again for support, inspiration, and insight?

Janie Chang:

I think the struggle to protect a valuable book collection raises the stakes for book lovers. There’s a scene in a Tom Stoppard play, Arcadia, where a young girl, one of the main characters, learns about the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria and she bursts into tears. All book lovers can relate!

When I’m writing and get stuck, it never hurts to pull out a book on the craft of writing because you need reminding of the basics every so often– am I overdoing the backstory by putting it here in one big chunk, is there’s a way to trickle it in gradually? It helps you take a step back. Stephen King’s On Writing is a favourite and so is Jessica Page Morrell’s Between the Lines. There are authors I go to for inspiration with language and vocabulary because there are always times when it feels as though the right words keep slipping away. Or you need to words used in an unexpected way just to jolt your creativity. So I keep on hand books by Michael Ondaatje or Guy Gavriel Kay, who are also poets, no surprise. I also love Ami McKay‘s work, and more recently, Madeline Miller.

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Leslie Lindsay:  

You toss in elements of fantasy, folklore, and myth in THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS, which I love, by the way. What are some of your favorite—or most comforting—myths and why do you think we cling to them in times of struggle?

Janie Chang:

I’ve always loved fairy tales about doorways to a different world. Partly because my seven-times-great grandfather supposedly walked through such a portal and entered the world of immortals. I also adore fox spirits, which in Chinese mythology are shape shifters that enjoy changing into human form and sharing their lives with people. I think these myths retain their appeal because we all go through times when we wish we could have a fresh start, whether by leaving behind a troubled situation or by reinventing ourselves. Both fox spirits and a portal feature in a previous novel, DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD.

Leslie Lindsay:

Janie, this has been so fabulous and insightful. Thank you for taking the time. Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten?

Janie Chang:

They were all great questions, all very thoughtful. I really appreciated this time with you! Stay safe and stay healthy.

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Artistic cover image of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook #alwaysreading for more like this.

For more information, to connect with Janie Chang via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS, please visit:

~Read chapter one~

Order Links:

~BOOK CONCIERGE~

You may find similarities between THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS and Alma Katsu’s THE HUNGER (for the journey and some of the myth connections, group behavior), as well as BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS (Dai Sijie). In terms of myth and folklore, you might also like Kate Hamer’s THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT and IN THE HOUSE IN THE DARK OF THE WOODS (Laird Hunt). 

Janie Chang ap1ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Janie Chang writes historical fiction with a personal connection, drawing from a family history with 36 generations of recorded genealogy. She grew up listening to stories about life in a small Chinese town in the years before the Second World War and tales of ancestors who encountered dragons, ghosts, and immortals.

Her first novel, THREE SOULS, was a finalist for the 2014 BC Book Prizes Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and her second novel, DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD, was a Globe and Mail national bestseller. Both these books were nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award. Her third book, THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS, is scheduled for release in April 2020

She is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and a proud member of Tall Poppy Writers, a tribe of authors with a mission to connect readers with great books while supporting some good causes. She is also the founder and main organizer of Canadian Authors for Indies, a national day of support by authors for independent bookstores, which ran from 2015 – 2017; this event is now run as Canadian Independent Bookstore Day by the Retail Council of Canada.

Born in Taiwan, Janie has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand, and New Zealand. She now lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.

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ABOUT YOUR HOST: 

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Forthcoming cover art to be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly, other images in Another Chicago Magazine (AJM), poetry in The Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Journal. Leslie has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

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#fiction #historical #WWII #China #students #family #secrets #journey #books guardianspirits #alwayswithabook #refugee #folklore

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[Cover and author image courtesy of and used with permission. Artistic cover image of book designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook for more like this]

 

 

Moms–how are you faring? Tired of being a people-pleaser? Looking to strip off that mask? Katherine Wintsch will show you how in her book, SLAY LIKE A MOTHER

By Leslie Lindsay 

Entertaining, honest, hopeful self-help book for busy mothers, reads like a chat with your best girlfriend.

Slay Like a Mother

~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

NOW IN PAPERBACK!

GET IT, GIFT IT…FOR MOTHER’S DAY.

This book came across my desk at the very right moment. I had been feeling like a hamster in a wheel going nowhere fast for some time. I work hard, but why do I feel so burned out? I wanted a break from it all. And then–the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Did I want to slay the virus? You bet. Could I? Not really. So I holed up and read.

SLAY LIKE A MOTHER (Sourcebooks trade paperback, March 2020) by motivational speaker and mom Katherine Wintsch was a bit of a wake-up call, but it also affirmed that I am doing a lot of things ‘right.’

Here she talks about the idea that many of us are people-pleasers. We almost *have* to be with work demands, household stuff, raising children, partner/spouse connectivity. She talks about ‘why’ we are people-pleasers (and not all of us are, but we’re still worn down). And then there’s that negative voice within…it’s snarky and full of bite. Why do we do this to ourselves? And how can we *not*? Wintsch gives practical and tangible solutions and scripts for re-framing those nasty words we tell ourselves.

Here are a few other takeaways from SLAY LIKE A MOTHER:

*THE MASK YOU’RE WEARING*

You know this one well. It’s the ‘I’m fine’ when you’re really not.

Break out of that mask by stopping the social comparisons, how to be honest and refreshing.

*YOUR UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS*

This what you think is goal-setting, but might actually be holding you back.

How to say ‘no,’ how to be more pro-active, how to weigh pros and cons. How to stop caring what others might think and do things for yourself and your family, while still being generous.

*THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRUGGLING AND SUFFERING*

Wintsch will help you identify what it means to struggle and suffer(Hint: it might not be as bad as you think).

I found the writing style chatty, refreshing, and honest. SLAY LIKE A MOTHER is filled with personal anecdotes and stories of those who have shared their experiences via her workshops and conferences. It’s also chocked-full of scholarly research that helps put things into perspective.

Here are a few other pieces I gleaned:

Motherhood is all about always anticipating and never knowing…no wonder we’re exhausted!

“Inner peace doesn’t come from having a clean mind when you have a clean slate, but from having a clean mind in the midst of a very full plate.”

“The greatest gift a mother can give her kids is to reinforce a healthy self-image that empowers them to present themselves to the world with authenticity, strength, and compassion.”

Will I come out of this quarantine as a better mom? I think so. Will my priorities be reevaluated? Yep. And maybe when this is all over, we will have positive, nurturing voices in our minds. Because we are worth it.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Katherine Wintsch to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Katherine, wow. Such a powerful, uplifting read. I always want to know the inspiration behind our work. I know this book wasn’t ‘easy,’ either…(no book is), but this one took some time to emerge into the world. Can you tell us a little about your inspiration and also why the world sometimes needs to be ‘ready’ for a book?

Katherine Wintsch:

This book was born out of my own pain. For twenty years, I suffered at the hands of what I refer to as my “Dragon of Self-Doubt.” Despite both personal and professional success, from the time I was a teenager to well after I gave birth, I lived with the deep-seeded sense of love anchored by the warped belief that I wasn’t good enough and that I always needed to do and accomplish more in order to be loved.

Eventually, I went through years of therapy, read dozens of self-help books and binged on Oprah episodes every chance I could. Along the way, I discovered I was desperate to impress other people because I was so unimpressed with myself. And then I decided, that nonsense had to stop. I did the hard work and the homework to learn to love myself, mistakes and all, and now I’m helping women around the world do the same. It’s incredibly rewarding to help moms slay their dragons of self-doubt — but they have to be willing to be vulnerable enough to admit that their dragon exists. That’s when they’re ready!

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“Much more than a self-help book for women; it’s the end of self-doubt and the beginning of self-love…and that is nothing short of life changing.”

RACHEL MACY STAFFORD
New York Times bestselling author of HANDS FREE MAMA

Leslie Lindsay:

In incomplete sentences can you state what you think SLAY LIKE A MOTHER is about? Who did you write this for?

Katherine Wintsch:

SLAY LIKE A MOTHER is about learning to love yourself despite your faults, letting go of past pain in order to find present peace, dropping the belief that you have to be perfect in order to be loved and teaching the mean voice in your head some manners. I wrote the book for women who are people pleasers by day and over thinkers by night — the mothers who feel broken and believe they need to hide that brokenness to be loved.

Leslie Lindsay:

My husband is a social psychologist and as I read, I came across a study you summarized about lying versus posturing from Bella DePaulo. Well, actually she’s not mentioned in the text, but we’re pretty sure it was one of her studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1996. Can you expand on this a bit? What exactly do our lies mean and why do we do it—as moms, particularly?

Katherine Wintsch:

The difference between posturing a bit and hiding behind a mask is the intention behind your efforts. Posturing is designed to build on the good that’s already there, while wearing a mask is about covering up the bad you believe is there (and likely isn’t). When the mothers from my workshops find the courage to dig deep and pinpoint why they’re hiding their truest selves, it’s often because they’re terrified that others won’t accept them if they have flaws. As mothers we want to be seen as perfect, so we lie and pretend that we are. The day a woman’s self-doubt began to creep into her life, a sense of rejection and isolation cut deep, hurt bad, and made her feel less worthy. So, women often hide their doubts, fears, and flaws behind a shield of armor to prevent anything like that from ever happening again.

I know about facades all too well, because I clung to my own for two decades. I put on a mask and held on to it like it was my lifeline, because it was my lifeline — a dirty secret that saved me from exposing my struggles. Thankfully, I no longer live that way.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I wanted to touch on the suffering versus struggling piece that you touch on in SLAY LIKE A MOTHER. Sometimes I will say things like, “I’m really struggling right now.” It’s usually career/existentially focused. But sometimes it’s a confluence of all things at once: motherhood, household, work, etc. Can you define what it means to ‘struggle’ versus ‘suffer?’

Katherine Wintsch:

Struggling represents the external challenges in your life such as jockeying for a promotion at work, feeding your family dinner or cleaning up after your messy family, etc.  The struggle is real and it’s real for every mother. Suffering, however, happens when you yell at yourself because you’re not getting the promotion faster or telling yourself you’re a poor excuse for a mother because your children leave a mess everywhere, they go. What you need to know is that while the struggle is real, your suffering is optional.

You need to recognize that everyone struggles and you’re not a loser for experiencing the difficult situations you mentioned. Most of the time, your struggling dips down into suffering because you (falsely) believe you’re pathetic and everyone else is perfect.  You think you’re the only one who struggles but the truth is that all mothers struggle with these issues. Motherhood isn’t hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because it’s hard.

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Leslie Lindsay:

And that mask! We absolutely have to talk about that, too. Because it’s there. We smile when we’re ready to fall apart. We say things are fine when they are anything but. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it to protect others? Does it sometimes help to ‘fake it till you make it?’

Katherine Wintsch:

We wear masks because we believe we are broken and that we must hide that brokenness in order to be loved. We say it’s because we don’t want to burden others with our problems, but the truth is, we’re scared we won’t be loved and accepted if we’re not perfect. If you’re wearing a mask, you’ve adopted the belief that the rules of love are predicated on always being a fantastic friend, wonderful wife, supportive mother, and doting daughter. However, there is no greater love than when you show someone your busted and brittle bits, and the look in their eyes says they love you just as much, if not more. Here’s a video of me taking my mask off for all the world to see.

Personally, I don’t believe in faking it until you make it. You’re enough as-is, just as you are — and pretending to be something you’re not sends a message to your soul that you don’t believe you’re good enough.

Leslie Lindsay:

What three things can you not stop thinking or talking about? It doesn’t have to be mom-or literary-related.

Katherine Wintsch:

This video, Schitt’s Creek, Peloton and jalapeno tequila

Leslie Lindsay:

Katherine, this has been so enlightening and empowering. Thank you, thank you! What else should I have asked, but may have forgotten?

Katherine Wintsch:

I think you covered everything!

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Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Join me on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook

For more information, to connect with Katherine Wintsch via social media, or to purchase a copy of SLAY LIKE A MOTHER, please visit: 

Order links:

~NOW IN PAPERBACK!~

GET IT, GIFT IT…FOR MOTHER’S DAY.

Katherine Wintsch HeadshotABOUT THE AUTHOR:

An internationally recognized expert on the topic of modern motherhood, Katherine Wintsch is founder CEO of The Mom Complex and author of SLAY LIKE A MOTHER: How to Destroy What’s Holding Your Back So You Can Live the Life You WantThe majority of her expertise comes from studying the passion and pain points of mothers around the world—the rest is accumulated from a little trial and a whole lot of error while raising her own two children with her husband in Richmond, Virginia. Katherine’s sought-after research and expertise have been featured by Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company, and she regularly writes about the topic of motherhood on her popular blog, In All Honesty, and for Working Mother magazine.

ABOUT YOUR HOST:

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Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, other photography in Another Chicago Magazine (AJM), poetry in the Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine; the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

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#alwayswithabook #motherhood #mothers #selfhelp #struggle #parenting #facade #selfdoubt #destructivebehavior

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[Cover and author image courtesy of SparkPointPress and used with permission. Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Join me on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook]

Scott Carson dives into the chilly waters of the fictional–but inspired by an actual reservoir–in upstate New York, the fall-out, plus the murky depth of the supernatural in this eco-thriller THE CHILL and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay 

A literary thriller based on actual small upstate NY towns flooded in effort to create drinking water for the residents of NYC, with a supernatural twist.

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~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Far upstate, in New York’s ancient forests, a drowned village lies beneath the deep, still waters of the (fictional) Chilewaukee Reservoir. THE CHILL (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Feb 2020) is about that drowned town, Galesburg, once home to many. It wasn’t a booming metropolis, but people were happy. Early in the twentieth century (1910-1928), many towns like Galesburg were destroyed for greater good: bringing water to the millions in downstate NYC. The local folks settled there many years prior to America’s founding (some say the town dates back to 1682), and they didn’t leave without a fight…some didn’t leave at all.

Now, a century later, the repercussions of human arrogance are finally making themselves known. An inspector notes problems on the dam, a man decides to swim in in and uncovers a corpse…or does he? He suffers from addiction so maybe he’s just strung out? Others say there’s something ‘not right’ with the area. But then again, some of them were carted off to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility and deemed psychotic.

For me, I am so intrigued with abandoned towns, displacement, and where–and if–we can ever really start over. THE CHILL is another example of eco-fiction, bringing water to the surface, the state of our water systems, the collapsing infrastructure of our nation.

One could read THE CHILL as a supernatural story–because there are elements of that, ‘They just watched. Pale faces, but not translucent, just washed-out gray, bones pushing at their flesh, all of them gaunt, all of them tired.’

Still, others might see it more as a tale of police procedural as we follow the sheriff and his son’s story line; there’s also family history and secrets, working professional engineer problems, and even a historical theme. For me–as always–it was about houses and barns towed and relocated, but also the devastation brought to the people.

The writing is fabulous. Dialogue is snappy, the characters are sharply drawn. I found the research absolutely meticulous and felt I was definitely in the hands of a master.

THE CHILL is about disaster. It’s about people unraveling, about things we cannot control. It’s about environmental disasters, and the fact that there might be more in our future as global warming threatens our world. While THE CHILL is an eco-thriller/horror story, and despite the water references, it’s a bit of a slow-burn.

Please join me in welcoming the very talented Scott Carson to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Scott, welcome! What an eerie, surreal read. I am reading this during quarantine and the Covid-19 pandemic, and I started thinking, ‘is this the book I should be reading right now?’ There are some striking similarities between events in THE CHILL and real-world stuff: global warming, earthquakes, tornadoes, pandemics, rootedness…and then displacement; heeding the warnings of officials. Plus, our deteriorating infrastructure, water and other natural resources. Okay, so now we’re all feeling super-anxious. Really, my intent was to ask: why this book, why now? What was your ‘jumping off point?’

Scott Carson:

Thanks so much for having me, and for promoting the book. Most appreciated, particularly during this time when so many great indie bookstores are shut down. And, yes, talk about a book that I didn’t want to feel prescient. The jumping off point for me was an article in The New York Times back in April of 2016. The city had gone through a disaster prep meeting and there was a reference to the mayor leaving “shaken” by one particular scenario, in particular: the collapse or destruction of one of the water tunnels that fed the city, which would render areas of New York uninhabitable for months. There was a quote in that article identifying the tunnel loss as the only thing that could “literally shut down the city.” I guess we learned that was wrong.

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Leslie Lindsay:

I’m always, always interested in abandoned places, forgotten by time, or left because of something horrific. I was reminded of Times Beach, Missouri, a small-working class enclave on the banks of the Mississippi River just outside St. Louis. It began in the late 1920s as a resort town, then shuttered in (some regards) due to the Great Depression. In the 1950s and 1960s, a suburban-like community developed. By the early 1980s, it was destroyed completely because it was contaminated with dioxin. Those people had to be evacuated, displaced…can you tell us a little more about these towns in upper New York? The research you uncovered?

Scott Carson:

We share a fascination. I’m obsessed with the forgotten and the overlooked and the ways the past works on the present. These towns and villages in upstate New York had families and histories that went back centuries, in some cases. Some of them were settled well before the American Revolution. And they were literally wiped off the map. This is the way it has to go with reservoir construction, and there is something about that loss of community and history that is both deeply sad and deeply mysterious. I researched the Ashokan and Gilboa and – my favorite name for a drowned town – Nerversink. You can’t make that one up.

Leslie Lindsay:

Also, water. I think there’s so much symbolism there. THE CHILL focuses on a reservoir, tunnels, dams, pipes, hydraulics, floods, and even just a rainy day. Were these motifs always present for you as you wrote? How about the juxtaposition of how water can heal and help, wash, cleanse, purify, bring peace and tranquility, but also destruction?

Scott Carson:

We have a substance here that both allows for life and can destroy life. It seems supernatural in so many ways, not the least being that it’s a finite resource that doesn’t feel that way to most people. We believe we control it, right? Turn on the faucet. Build a dam. Build a boat. There are so many ways in which humans believe they control the thing that gives them life. And then along comes a few days of downpour and our homes get washed away. Moisture in the sky meets moisture in the sea and hurricanes build; supercell storms spawn tornadoes; droughts threaten extinction. But we’re in control?

This was a central idea to me throughout the writing. What do we take for granted that imperils us? Both on the micro level, when a character keeps a secret, for example, and the macro, such as when a society ignores infrastructure maintenance. We live with risk quite happily until we’re dying from it.

And, you used the perfect word – there’s the tranquility of water. The peace of listening to waves or a creek or even a gentle rain. I love how beauty and threat are joined.

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Leslie Lindsay:

I love this passage of Gillian going back to Galesburg to see her childhood home:

“She used Google Earth to look at the house, watching as the years went by and the forest moved in around the grounds, overwhelmed the vegetable garden, claimed the flower beds. She expected the house to collapse beneath years of neglect in all those brutal upstate New York winters. Somehow it remained upright, though, protruding just above the tree line like a raised middle finger […] The high roofline with its steep pitch to shed snow seemed to rise a bit higher now, as if it had grown over the years. The siding had been white when she lived there but not was faded to a filthy gray that matched the sky. The front porch railing was gone and looked as if the porch might have collapsed.”

What can you tell us about this description? Is this based on an actual place? Also, there’s an intersection between childhood innocence and adult nostalgia and nothing is ever really how we remember it.

Scott Carson:

I’m so glad that stretch stood out to you. It is not based on an actual place, and that’s probably why I’m most pleased that you noticed it. One of the great joys of writing is when you actually see a place or person that never existed. When it becomes alive for you, showing elements you didn’t know were there. That house was one for me.

In childhood, I think we embrace the idea of home in a different way than we do ever again. You have to grow up into a distrust or dislike of it, if it’s a bad home, and if it was a good home, you’ll never remember the flaws without the pleasant fog of nostalgia. In childhood, we are also able to buy into concepts that we spend the rest of our lives denying or laughing off – the ghost in the house, the monster under the bed, the idea that if you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back. Everything is so big and so new for a child. You embrace the magical to explain things you don’t understand. I wanted Gillian to float between worlds – a detective’s skepticism and a child’s trust.

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Leslie Lindsay:

I feel like THE CHILL is rooted in fact, steeped in myth, but also thick with paranormal happenings. Maybe we’re just haunted by our own past? The future? Can you talk about that, please?

Scott Carson:

We’re not just haunted by our past; we’re guided by the past. Individually and as a society. Each choice we make that feels new is, in fact, a calculation shaped by what we’ve experienced before. We choose what to ride with and what to leave behind. Entire faith systems and languages flourish and vanish. We move on. But…what story did we leave behind that we shouldn’t have? That’s a fun question for me. Considering native culture and storytelling, for example. How did the first people to live beside a river explain the river? What might they have understood about it that we still don’t? What’s the secret your mother or father took to the grave that might’ve actually helped you out? Those questions are gasoline on the storytelling fire for me.

I’m particularly intrigued by efforts to protect future generations by altering the truth of the past or burying it. How often does that work out, long-term? And yet we do it every day. Sometimes maliciously, and sometimes with the purest of intentions. We pick and choose what to bring with us. Eventually, it seems the past is bound to pick and choose something to take back from the present, right?!


“Horror has a new name and it’s Scott Carson. The Chill is an eerie dive into the murky depths of the supernatural. A story that has you looking back over your shoulder on every page.”

—Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Night Fire


Leslie Lindsay:

Water, the dam, swimming…these are all obsessions to the characters in THE CHILL. What’s obsessing you now? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Scott Carson:

Beyond COVID-19 obsessions, I’m currently obsessed by hiking. I always hike, but now it is as if that’s my professional pursuit. I’m spending way too much time looking at maps of Montana and Maine and imagining trails that I’ve not yet been on. It seems a pretty logical obsession in a time of forced dormancy. And yet on the other side of the coin, I’ve been revisiting trails I knew well but haven’t seen in a long time – both literally and figuratively. I’ve been re-reading old books, for example. Not new fiction, but books that I loved and haven’t picked up in years.

Viewed through the prism of THE CHILL, it all makes a lot of sense. Past and present and future are all at war with me right now!

Leslie Lindsay:

Scott, this has been so insightful and fascinating. Thank you for taking the time. Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten?

Scott Carson:

Certainly not anything you should have asked and forgotten, but I guess I’ll tell new readers that Scott Carson is a pseudonym for Michael Koryta! Ha. Thanks so much for this.

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Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Join me on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook. 

For more information, connect with Scott Carson via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE CHILL, please visit:

Order Links:

~BOOK CONCIERGE~

I found some similarities with other books that might appeal–THE HUNGER (Alma Katsu) about the Donner Party during the Westward Expansion, in which many supernatural-type things happen, a group becomes unhinged, and also a similar writing style; NAAMAH (Sarah Blake) in terms of flooding, swimming in eerie waters; THE SUN DOWN MOTEL (Simone St. James) features a run-down motel in upstate NY, paranormal things, a murder/missing persons investigation; LITTLE DARLINGS (Melanie Golding) features, among other things, a drowned town in England. Of course, there are other books–possibly Dean Koontz and Stephen King that may resonate.

Koryta PhotoABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

SCOTT CARSON is the pen name for award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and screenwriter Michael Koryta, author of fourteen novels, including New York Times Notable Books and national bestsellers Rise the Dark, Last Words, Those Who Wish Me Dead, and So Cold the River. A former private investigator and newspaper reporter, he lives in New England—just above a dam.

IMG_6816ABOUT YOUR HOST:

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, other photography in Another Chicago Magazine (AJM), poetry in the Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine; the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#ecothriller #supernatural #NewYork #TheChill #environment #mystery #horror #litthriller #alwayswithabook #water #drownedtowns #abandonedtowns 

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[Cover and author image courtesy of ShreveWilliams and used with permission. Artistic image of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Join me on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1]

Wife, mother, and advocate Teresa Unnerstall dives in head-first with her all-hands-on-deck approach to navigating an autism & Down’s syndrome diagnosis in her new book, A NEW COURSE

By Leslie Lindsay 

With humor, kindness, and practical advice, mother, writer, and special needs advocate absolutely has all-hands on deck as she traverses the choppy waters of a child with a dual-diagnosis.

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~BOOKS ON MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Teresa Unnerstall doesn’t tip her toes into the water of Down’s syndrome and autism, she dives head-first into the deep-end. Told with wit, compassion, faith, empathy, brutal honesty, and gentle advocacy, A NEW COURSE: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down’s syndrome and autism (Kat Biggie Press, May 5 2020) is a beacon of light for a parent traversing the rocky waters of a DS-ASD dual-diagnosis.

I found myself wholly engaged in this book—the worries, the fears, the emotional ups and downs. Teresa proves that she is just like any other mother—but so much more. She created laminated picture cards for her son and taped them to the shower wall so he’d know the steps for self-hygiene. When she wasn’t doing that, she researched behavioral therapies and looked into school programs and advocated for her son. Somedays, she’s cleaned smeared poop then went to teach exercise classes at the local gym.

A NEW COURSE is exactly as it sounds—creating a new normal for you, your family, and the exquisite treasure you were given: your child.

From birth through high school and beyond, Teresa has charted a strong, no- nonsense narrative teeming with set-backs but also love, lessons and hope, plus plenty of take-aways covering fears and anxieties, early intervention, sensory diets, IEPs, speech-language concerns, puberty, behavior management, and so much more. Teresa is an absolute gift to her son, Nick, but you will find her a nurturing and compassionate friend as you navigate the ebb and flow of raising a child—and young adult–with special needs.

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Teresa Unnerstall to the author interview series.

Leslie Lindsay:

Teresa, I am so taken with this book. I know it’s tugged at you for many, many years. What was the driving force?

Teresa Unnerstall:

I started out writing because there were very few books out there that dealt with the tough topics of raising a child that has multiple intellectual and developmental disabilities.  I didn’t want to sugarcoat these struggles. Writing has been cathartic and my way of healing. My driving force– is my mission to help other families navigate a smoother journey, learn from my mistakes, and seek professional help to assist you and your child’s unique challenges associated with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD).

Leslie Lindsay:

I love the structure of A NEW COURSE, the connection to your earlier days growing up sailing, and how every chapter has this lovely theme braided throughout. Can you give us a little background, please?

Teresa Unnerstall:

I grew up racing sailboats on Galveston Bay out of the Houston Yacht Club. For a brief period I raced with the University of Texas Sailing Team (until my GPA dropped). The boat on the cover is the boat we raced, it’s called an Ensign. Sailing teaches you a lot about life. You need to be patient when the wind dies and be prepared to make adjustments, when it’s blowing so hard that your boat is nearly capsizing.

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Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

The 3:2:1 tips at the end of each chapter are fabulous. Of course, 321, or trisomy-21 is the gene with the ‘error’ that creates Down syndrome. What can you tell us—simply stated—about the genetics of Down’s syndrome, and also a little overview of your 3:2:1 tips?

Teresa Unnerstall:

Simply stated Down syndrome is an error in cell division, in my son’s case the type is trisomy-21. This is where there is all or part of a third copy present in the 21st chromosome pair. It is usually associated with physical growth delays, intellectual and developmental delays and characteristic physical features.

Incidentally World Down Syndrome Day is held each year on March 21st (3/21) to raise awareness; promote better understanding, acceptance and inclusion for individuals with Down syndrome.

At the end of each chapter there is a 3-2-1 which includes 3 lessons I learned during that time, 2 takeaways to use in the future and 1 question or concern that I had. I added my version of an appendix called “Final Lessons Learned at the Helm.” There are a variety of topics–many of which I have written about since 2012 on my blog. Some of the final lesson topics are therapies, IEP’s, behavior management/ABA, self-help/independent learning skills, visual supports, vacation and travel tips to name a few.  

Leslie Lindsay:

One thing that really resonated for me—as a mother, but also as a mother raising a daughter with a severe speech disorder—is this feeling of being alone that you mention early on in A NEW COURSE. Feeling alone is really a lack of being understood. No one ‘gets it.’ It’s isolating. It’s debilitating. But here, you roll up your sleeves. You find answers. Can you talk about that, please?

Teresa Unnerstall:

Yes, exactly Leslie. The feeling of being all alone is a lack of being understood. That is a great insight. Many times I wondered if I was the only parent experiencing such tough challenges. That is one of the main reasons why I started writing this book because I didn’t want other parents to feel all alone.

I have always had a mindset of finding solutions. I wasn’t even aware of this mindset until I received a plaque from the YMCA where I was the fitness director, (before we relocated to another city). The plaque read in part, “Thank you for your ideas, spirit and zeal… You made a difference”.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were countless times when I got stuck and felt numb, hopeless and sad. I’d would curl up in a ball and have a good cry, yell, swear and hit a pillow. After those pity parties and the when tears dried I let the anger fuel me. My anger was towards the things that I couldn’t fix or make easier for my son. I refused to let whatever I encountered, get the best of me. That was when (and still is) the time that I roll up my sleeves, seek help and find a better way to help my son navigate his world.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

We should mention that Nick has an older brother, Hank, who is neurotypical. While A NEW COURSE is mostly about your journey with Nick, I’m curious about how Hank fit into story. There were times he was supportive of Nick, and other times, he was exasperated by his brother’s antics. How can families reconcile the high needs of one child with the less-immediate, but no less important needs of another child(ren)?

Teresa Unnerstall:

Hank is 19 months older than Nick, and in many ways the typical sibling relationship exists. I think most siblings are supportive and exasperated with each other growing up on occasion. Here’s my advice, it’s important to find a balance in the amount of time and attention you spend with each child. Sometimes when Nick was at speech or occupational therapy, Hank and I would go to the mall, specifically to the Game Stop and the food court. My husband and I made a conscious effort to have “buddy days” with just Hank.

Another tip I write in the final lessons is to work together as a family and prioritize schedules and therapy treatments. You shouldn’t let the disability overrun your family life.

Finally, seek out sibling support groups. We went to the national Down syndrome convention years ago and they had a full breakout for siblings. Hank got to meet a former Miss America contestant and also Chris Burke (actor from the 1980’s television show “Life Goes On”). It was a great experience for him.  Next month, Hank and I will be presenting virtually at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Adult Summit. I will be doing a session called “Beyond Down Syndrome” and Hank will be a part of the panel for siblings.

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Photo by Eileen lamb on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I adore how the boys—and especially Nick—really connected with animals and nature. For example, the little town of Tomball, Texas and hippotherapy. Can you share a little about that time, please?

Teresa Unnerstall:

We lived outside of Houston at the time, Nick was 1 and Hank was almost 3 years old. The early intervention program Nick attended offered hippotherapy (therapeutic horseback riding) out in Tomball, Texas. At the time Nick because of his low muscle tone (a trait associated with having Down syndrome) was unable to sit unsupported. Flanked on either side by volunteers and a physical therapist he rode a horse wearing a helmet to help get more core strength.  Afterward, both boys would help brush the horses and feed the animals on the farm. It was a great sensory experience that also taught them both lessons in taking care of animals and compassion.

Leslie Lindsay:

What I admire most about A NEW COURSE is your honesty. You say there were times you ‘lost it,’ felt depressed, yelled at Nick. You admit your imperfections. But you also take care of yourself. You play tennis, teach exercise, garden, write, and found ways for respite care for Nick. I think all of this is key, the self-care.  Can you expand on that, please?

Teresa Unnerstall:

Yes, I wanted to tell my story honesty and unfiltered. Life is not perfect, and I aim to keep it real. I have been a fitness professional for over 35 years. I want my participants to work hard, have fun (laugh at my dumb jokes) feel good and be inspired. These fitness classes are an escape from problems– a little oasis from the grind of life. Teaching these classes is a big part of who I am and helps me to feel normal.

Self-care is essential to be the best version of ourselves. It’s not being selfish when you carve out time each day to do the things that bring you pleasure (although my participants would say the walking lunges and 3-minute planks give them more pain than pleasure). Self-care is about taking time to love yourself and feed your soul.

We applied for state funding which provides funding for respite care. These respite care workers take Nick out in the community, work on goals and give us as parents a much-needed break. It allows me to continue to teach classes, go out with girlfriends and for my husband to play tennis and golf with his buddies, along with an occasional night out.  

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Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Nick is now 26 years old and doing quite well. He lives at home with you and Al and attends a developmental day training program. Can you catch us up to speed? Does he know about the book?

Teresa Unnerstall:

At age 22, a student with an intellectual and/or developmental disability will age out of the school system. It is crucial to have a plan in place once the yellow bus stops coming to the door. For the past 3+ years Nick has been attending an adult developmental day training program. The program includes functional and academic work stations, vocational skills, crafts, exercise, shopping, cooking, entertaining theme days/parties and community outings. Nick loves this program and thrives on the structure it provides him.

Regarding the book, Nick’s cognitive level is not at a point where he can read words (although he can recognize logos that are meaningful to him like Taco Bell and Culvers). He enjoys looking at the social media posts and pictures of himself on our Facebook and Instagram sites. I know he will love being a small part of the Zoom calls and Facebook live posts we have planned for the virtual book launch.

Leslie Lindsay:

Teresa, this has been fabulous. Thank you. I could ask questions all day, but is there anything I might’ve have asked, but didn’t?

Teresa Unnerstall:

Yes, one question is- What are the pain points of A NEW COURSE?

How I navigated early intervention, IEP’s/education placement, speech/OT and physical therapies, behavior support/ABA, toilet training and puberty issues, wandering/elopement, meltdowns and augmentative and alternative communication.

What does a support group look like for a dual diagnosis?

This is an area that is lacking in many parts of the country. Most families dealing with a dual diagnosis feel like they don’t fit into the Down syndrome groups or the autism support groups. The deficits in speech, behavior and sensory issues inhibit families from taking part in those group activities, so they stop going to DS support group events. I work directly with a DS support group in the San Francisco Bay area as their DS-ASD consultant. We are putting programs in place to support families who are dealing with a dual diagnosis.

I hope A NEW COURSE is a call to action for DS support groups to better support their families that deal with a dual diagnosis. Research suggests that approximately 18% of families having a child with DS also have a secondary diagnosis of autism.

What do you hope your book will reveal to readers?

Honestly, I hope that A NEW COURSE is a wake-up call for families dealing with a dual diagnosis about the need to seek help when navigating DS-ASD. But just as important, that my book will wake up Down syndrome support groups, educators, therapists, medical professionals, friends, extended family, and the general population to better understand the complexities that families face, so that they, in turn, can find a way.

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Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Join her on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook for more like this.

For more information, to connect with Teresa Unnerstall via social media or to purchase a copy of A NEW COURSE: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism, please see: 

~READ Teresa’s RECENT ARTICLE in The Mighty about parenting a special needs child during COVID-19~

ORDER LINKS: 

Number 28ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Teresa Unnerstall is a writer, advocate, speaker, and consultant specializing in the dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). She has contributed articles to The Mighty along with several Down syndrome support groups across the country. In addition, Teresa has been writing a weekly blog about her son Nick, who has DS-ASD (Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism at http://www.nickspecialneeds.com) since 2012. Teresa has been a guest lecturer and advocate at Northern Illinois University and Aurora University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health education from the University of Texas and has been working in the fitness field for more than thirty-five years. Teresa and her husband, Al, have two sons, Hank and Nick. She lives in the Chicago area.

ABOUT YOUR HOST: 

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine IMG_6816House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Forthcoming photography to appear in Up the Staircase Quarterly and Another Chicago Magazine; poetry to appear this summer in Coffin Bell Journal; CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine. Leslie has been awarded as one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

  • GoodReads
  • Facebook: LeslieLindsayWriter
  • image003-3Twitter: @LeslieLindsay1
  • Email: leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com
  • Amazon
  • Instagram: @LeslieLindsay1

~Updated, 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA forthcoming from Woodbine House late summer 2020~

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LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#alwayswithabook #specialneeds #parenting #downsyndrome #autism #selfhelp #siblings #advice #memoir #practicaltips #supportgroups #behavioralmanagement #visualsupports #booksareessential #family

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[Cover and author image courtesy of T. Unnerstall and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by Leslie Lindsay. Join her on Instagram @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook for more like this.]

 

Beloved UK Author Ruth Hogan delights with her newest release QUEENIE MALONE’S PARADISE HOTEL with vibrant characters, tackling issues such as estrangement, mental illness, and chosen families

By Leslie Lindsay 

An uplifting novel of mothers and daughters, secrets and the astonishing power of friendship, from the wildly popular bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things.

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~FICTION FRIDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

WINNER OF THE ROMANTIC NOVELISTS’ ASSOCIATION AWARD 2020
SELECTED FOR WORLD BOOK NIGHT 2020
PRIMA BOOK OF THE YEAR

Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning.

Now an adult, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda returns to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all …

Ruth Hogan tackles issues of isolation, mental illness, forgiveness, chosen families, and estranged mothers in this charming and delightful tale that is sure to resonate–and uplift–during these uncertain times.

Mothers and daughters … their story can be complicated … but it can also turn out to have a happy ending.

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Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook #alwaysreading.

For more information, to connect with author Ruth Hogan via social media, or to purchase a copy of QUEENIE MALONE’S PARADISE HOTEL, please visit: 

Order LInks: 

~BOOK CONCIERGE~

I found similarities between QUEENIE MALONE’S PARADISE HOTEL and LIES IN WHITE DRESSES (Sofia Grant) meets the writing of Lesley Kagen and Elizabeth Berg, also Gretchen Berg’s THE OPERATOR. Some loose connections to THE HOME OF ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS (Julie Kibler).

~READ AN EXCERPT~

x300ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Ruth Hogan is the author of The Keeper of Lost Things, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and a WHSmith Travel ‘Fresh Talent’ selection. A #1 word-of-mouth hit and Sunday Times bestseller with more than half a million copies sold, the book is currently being published in 30 countries around the world. bestseller with more than half a million copies sold, the book is currently being published in 30 countries around the world. She lives in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and her long-suffering husband.

 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

IMG_6816Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

~UPDATED, 2ND EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA COMING THIS SPRING FROM WOODBINE HOUSE~

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#alwayswithabook #alwaysreading #fiction #hotels #womensfiction #isolation #mentalillness #mothers #daughters #family 

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[Cover and author image courtesy of WilliamMorrow and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this @leslielindsay1 #alwayswithabook #alwaysreading]

 

Inspired by a time of isolation & distance from her family, prolific and award-winning author Sebnem Isiguzel pens a story of about coming of age during a violent political unrest in THE GIRL IN THE TREE

By Leslie Lindsay 

A young woman climbs the tallest tree in Instanbul’s centuries-old Gulahane Park, determined to live out the rest of her days there, what follows is her story. 

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~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

Şebnem İşigüzel is a prolific and much-lauded writer in her native Turkey, and with publication of THE GIRL IN THE TREE (Amazon, April 17 2020), American readers will discover a fresh, memorable, and extraordinary voice in contemporary literature.

Amnesty International’s website describes the Gezi Park protests this way:

“On 30 May 2013, police cleared Gezi Park in central Istanbul of a small group of protestors opposed to its destruction. The denial of their right to protest and the violence used by the police touched a nerve and a wave of anti-government demonstrations swept across Turkey.” 

What really happened in Gezi in 2013? In Şebnem İşigüzel’s THE GIRL IN THE TREEthe author gives voice to that world in a powerful debut about a girl’s coming of age amid violent unrest and her unexpected escape.

Perched in an abandoned stork’s nest in a sanctuary of branches and leaves, a girl tries to make sense of the rising tide of violence in the world below. She is torn between the desire to forget all that has happened and the need to remember. Her story, and the stories of those around her, begins to unfold.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Then, unexpectedly, comes a soul mate with a shared destiny. A lonely boy working at a nearby hotel looks up and falls in love. The two share stories of the fates of their families, of a changing city, and of their political awakening in the Gezi Park protests. Together, they navigate their histories of love and loss.

Narrated by an unforgettable character in contemporary fiction, this unsparing and poetic novel of political madness, precarious dreams, and the will to survive brilliantly captures a girl’s road to defiance in a world turned upside down. It is only from the treetops that she can get a grip on reality—and find the promise of hope.

Here, Sebnem, talks about her inspiration behind THE GIRL IN THE TREE, her contemporaries, and also how some of the best literature is created out of the darkness.

HOW DİD I FİND İNSPİRATİON FOR THE GİRL İN THE TREE ?

Şebnem İşigüzel

The idea of the novel first came to me with an essay I read. In 2008, when my novel The Garbage Dump was published in German, it received great praise. One critic wrote that I was persuasive like Italo Calvino and created narratives along the lines of Paul Auster. As I was creating the character for this novel, I drew a certain amount of inspiration from that claim. With the motivation I got from that review, I thought if it would be possible for me to rewrite my favourite Calvino novel.

I found the answer to this question, and THE GIRL IN THE TREE, in a hospital room when I was alone with a tree that filled my room through the window. Those were the same days in which Gezi Protests started in Istanbul. My husband and kids were not able to come visit me.

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In 2013, there was a long period of public resistance in Istanbul. It all started when the prime minister drew up plans to raze a park and build in its place a symbolic military barracks which would in fact be a commercial site. But people resisted and started protesting. That small park became a symbol of pride and honor for people. But many youths lost their lives. A university student was beaten to death. A fifteen-year-old kid was killed when he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by the police. People were left blinded and crippled.

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Photo by Ana Madeleine Uribe on Pexels.com

But there was more to come. Thirty-three university students who were taking toys to impoverished children on the Syrian border were killed in an attack carried out by ISIS. The Girl in the Tree THE GIRL IN THE TREE lived through those troubling times.

My protagonist, who longs to die before dying, yearns to tell about these things—and she does, tracing their history all the way back to the ancestors of the first female slaves brought to Istanbul. It’s a melancholic, sorrowful tale.

We know those politicians who go about their business by embarrassing people of conscience. My protagonist in the novel, who convincingly and powerfully tells her story against the backdrop of the captivating city of Istanbul, is actually the entire world’s Girl in the Tree. You can see her in places like Central Park and Hyde Park. We live in a world where women and the youth are the first to rise up in rebellion. That’s why I think that the story she tells will find a place in everyone’s heart.

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This book first emerged with a feeling of discontent about being in my home country. In 2013, life became so tumultuous that I wished I was a bird chirping in a tree rather than witnessing such pain and suffering. Emotionally, I did perch in a tree. And I never came down. I wonder if, in one way or another, we’re all perched up in that tree.

I write for the world. As a result, even if what I write bears traces of the geography in which I live, it’s not incomprehensible or alien to others. By bringing together the context of Istanbul and my particular passion for writing, I give back what I take from the world. It wouldn’t be off the mark to say that I try to create for readers a new and different chemistry between the west and the east. And I could also mention that my grandfather was born in a rowboat on the Bosporus, which is right in the middle. But there is nothing freakish about any of this. I think what I’m trying to say is that the literature that emerges from these lands shouldn’t be approached with bias.

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Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Just as novels aren’t like telephone books, they share nothing in common with city guidebooks either. What’s important are the people. But novels do sweep us from one place to another. Even if some people might be wary of coming to Istanbul, they shouldn’t be afraid to explore the pages of THE GIRL IN THE TREE. I came to love the world through literature. What I really wanted to achieve with this book was to make reading about the daily life of Istanbul, which has largely been shaped by politics, an unforgettable experience.

I wanted to tell a story that was as enchanting as it was convincing. The main character, who has a poster of Robert Pattinson on the wall of her room, will be no stranger to readers from a country such as the US.

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I wrote THE GIRL IN THE TREE while mesmerized, as if I was dreaming, with my whole heart. My hero excited me endlessly while I was writing it. Who knows, maybe she can inspire another movement lead by the younger generation.

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Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this.

To learn more, to connect with Sebnem Isiguzel via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE GIRL IN THE TREE, please visit: 

Order LInks: 

thumbnail_image005ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Şebnem İşigüzel was born in 1973. Her first book, Hanene ay dogacak (The Future Looks Bright), won the prestigious Yunus Nadi Literature Award for published collections of short stories in 1993. She has gone on to write eight novels and two more short story collections. The Girl in the Tree, published in Turkey in 2016, is her first novel to be translated into English.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

I hope you do!

image1 (5)Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). Her work has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art will be featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, and the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this spring. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

~UPDATED, 2ND EDITION OF SPEAKING OF APRAXIA COMING THIS SPRING FROM WOODBINE HOUSE~

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[Cover and author image courtesy of Dewey Decimal Media and used with permission. Artistic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this]