Tag Archives: art

Wednesdays with Writers: Luscious prose, the immense challenge of weaving two plot lines, creating a ‘likable’ character, how art informs the world, an abandoned house, reinvention, & so much more in T. Greenwood’s THE GOLDEN HOUR

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By Leslie Lindsay

Lush, poetic, mysterious, with a touch of psychological suspense, T. Greenwood’s newest book, THE GOLDEN HOUR is like reading in a sun-dappled dream. 

Greenwood’s prose is absolutely glimmering. Each character is richly drawn and the story itself, hauntingly beautiful. 
the-golden-hour
In THE GOLDEN HOUR, T. Greenwood explores childhood trauma with present-day strife, each in equal balance, and each showing beauty and darkness. Wyn Davies is running from her past–when she was a teenager, she took a shortcut through a wooded path in her New Hampshire hometown, only to become a cautionary tale. Twenty years later, that horrific afternoon is rearing its ugly head. But now, she’s in the midst of a divorce, raising her 4-year old daughter, and struggling as an artist. And then, her friend suggests a Maine retreat. She can get away, paint and the past will just fall away. Or will it?

The Maine house has been empty for years.
It’s nearly falling apart. Abandoned. Yet there’s something so eerily alive about the house. Wyn finds cannisters of old 35mm film yet-to-be-developed. What she finds is shocking, disturbing, and yet has the power to transform. She learns the mystery behind the old photos and determines, the past isn’t all that different from the present. kodak-max-400-35mm-film

I loved every minute of THE GOLDEN HOUR, the metaphor of life and art, and the concept that things don’t always have a happy ending, but in this case, they just might.

Join me, as I sit down with T. Greenwood and chat all things literary.

Leslie Lindsay: Tammy, it’s wonderful to have you back. I love all of your books and would relish reading your grocery list. And I loved THE GOLDEN HOUR. But, I understand writing this one was a bit of a challenge for you. Can you talk about your ‘Epitaphs and Prophecies’ where THE GOLDEN HOUR is concerned?

T. Greenwood: Writing this book was intensely challenging. First, I had a number of plot ideas I wanted to incorporate (hence the dual storyline), and each of them was fairly complex. But the greater challenge was how to depict Wyn’s character in a way that didn’t turn people away from her. We meet Wyn when she is going through multiple personal crises. Her marriage is falling apart, her career is not at all what she had once hoped it would be, and now a secret from her past is threatening to unravel everything. She’s angry. She’s frustrated. And she’s scared. She’s a difficult character to love initially. But she’s also broken, in a way that I hope readers will sympathize with. This book is all about ends and beginnings. And Wyn exemplifies that place that people often find themselves in, when everything seems in flux or on the verge of great change.

L.L.: Almost all of your books feature an artist; a material artist: a painter, a sculptor.  But writing is an art, too.  In fact, your website says, ‘Novelist. Photographer. Mama.’  Is it a conscious decision to make at least one of your characters an artist, or does it grow sort of organically?

T. Greenwood: I can’t help it. I love creative people, and I surround myself by them. I am fascinated by how art informs peoples’ lives, and so it is a recurring theme in my novels. This time around I really wanted to explore how three different artists’ relationship with their work diverged, as they became adults. Gus, Wyn, and Pilar all go to art school together. Gus continues to make art, supporting himself by working at a sign shop. Pilar finds sudden enormous success in the art world after many years of struggle. But Wyn is in a strange limbo – where she has “sold out,” in a sense, by painting on command. And while she is grateful to be making money making art, she can’t help but feel that she’s sold her soul. One of the themes I was interested in exploring in this novel was what happens when art and commerce intersect. And about the concept of art for art’s sake, what a luxury that is.

L.L.: In THE GOLDEN HOUR, you do a beautiful job of separating Wyn’s past from her current situation. I think this has a lot to do with structure. You have these dark, yet beautifully written short chapters entitled, ‘Inquiry’ thrusting the reader back in time. How did you determine this set-up?

300px-peaks_island_maine_landing_11-11-2004T. Greenwood: Wyn was the victim of a brutal crime when she was a child. I wanted to find a way to reveal that crime through the filter of her memory (an artist’s memory). I think artists often use their art to process tragedy, and so these chapters are her attempt to do so. They also give the reader small, palatable doses of that difficult aspect of the plot.

L.L.: And then there’s Maine. I could be entirely wrong, but is this the first time you’ve set a novel there? There’s something about Maine—the remoteness, the old-school vibe, the brooding sea. What was your inspiration for this setting?

T. Greenwood: My second novel is actually set in Maine as well. As a native Vermonter, I have spent quite a bit of time in Maine, mostly coastal Maine. And when I started writing this, my sister was living on Peaks Island. She would describe the winter to me, and I thought it was such a perfect backdrop for this story. It becomes a metaphor, in a way, for the isolation that Wyn feels. Her lies, like her art, have created a prison for her.

L.L.:  Houses fascinate me. I’m always making up stories about old farmhouses slung alongside the road, dreaming of who might have lived there, and why they are gone. Was there a particular home that sparked your interest and you ‘gave’ it to Pilar and Wyn?

Greenwood: I kept envisioning a house in a Wyeth painting. When I was little, my parents had a print of “Christina’s World” hanging in our living room. That was the house I 300px-christinasworldinitially thought of.

L.L.: What is haunting you now? What has your interest?

T. Greenwood: I actually just finished a novel, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press in the Spring of 2018. It’s tentatively titled RUST AND STARDUST, and it is an imagined rendering of the true crime (the kidnapping of an eleven year old girl) in 1948 that inspired Nabokov’s LOLITA. And I just started writing a new book that will return to Vermont – I have two whole pages so far.

L.L.: Is there anything I forgot to ask, but should have?

T. Greenwood: I don’t think so.

L.L.: Tammy, it was a pleasure having you! Thank you so very much for taking the time to chat with us about THE GOLDEN HOUR.

T. Greenwood: Thank you so much for having me!

For more information, to connection via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE GOLDEN HOUR, please see: 

TGreenwood.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR: T. Greenwood is the author of eleven critically acclaimed novels. She has received numerous grants for her writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council. She lives with her family in San Diego, California, where she teaches creative writing, studies photography, and continues to write. Please visit her online at www.TGreenwood.com.

To connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, please see:

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[Cover and author image courtesy of V. Engstrand at Kensington Press and used with permission. Images of 35mm film, Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World,” and Peak’s Island all retrieved from Wikipedia on 2/28/17]

 

 

Fiction Friday: Meet a New Character from my Novel-in-Progress

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By Leslie LindsayWrite on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

After culling through  my completed manuscript and making notes…okay, about 100 color-coded notecards, I have come to the conclusion that I need another layer woven into the tapestry of my story.  Meet Nolan Baxter.  He’s there for a reason: to impart information to the reader that main characters Annie and Steve may not know or have access to.  He’s there to make readers say, “WTF?”  and he’s going to help tie things together in the end. 

Take a peek.  Let me know your thoughts.  Remember, this is an original work of fiction. Please do not make your own. 

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“Nolan Baxter wrote the obligatory ghost story on Halloween, the stories of lasting love on Valentine’s Day and interviews folks around the Bean about homelessness.  Worse, Nolan Baxter was a chameleon, his colors changing based on who he was around—and how he could please them, never fully understanding who he was and what made him tick.

          Human interest stories became his passion.  What interested others surely would interest him.  But, it didn’t. 

          Still yet, he had a job to do.  When the senior editor got wind of a special exhibit at the art institute, Nolan armed himself with a notebook and trucked down Michigan Avenue. 

          The flags flapped in the wind as Nolan traipsed up the steps of the massive stone building, his Converse sneakers ill-matched with his wide-whale cords and Gingham shirt.  He nodded to the overly large bronze lions standing guard—now weathered and turning green—commissioned from sculptor Edward Kemeys.  He found it interesting that the lions had unofficial names—the southern-most sculpture called “stands in an attention of defiance,” whereas the northern- most lion is referred to as “on the prowl.”  He knew all thanks to a past story he penned for the Trib on the 120th anniversary of the building. 

           When Nolan reached the front windows of the Art Institute, he flashed his press pass and followed an elderly docent inside. He marched forward and headed down the main staircase to the lower level where the traveling exhibits were on display.

           To his luck, one of the resident art professors shuffled about the lower level rounding up folks for a tour.

 “Art is like magic,” he began.  “Not many would identify art as magical,but I am not just anyone.”  Nolan rolled his eyes at the professor’s pretentious comment. He thought he had escaped the brainy type after graduating from journalism school.  No such luck.   “You see, artists have been employing the visual illusion since the fifteenth century, when Renaissance painters invented techniques to trick your brain into thinking that a flat canvas is three-dimensional, or that a series of brushstrokes in a still life is a bowl of luscious fruit.  It’s not—we all know it’s oil on canvas.”

           The crowd stirred, shifting their backpacks and hips, a mass of smelly bodies bathed in bad clothes and body odor.  Nolan nestled his pad of paper in his palm and feigned interest.  

            The Art professor began again, “Renaissance painters realized they could manipulate atmospheric effects by making tones weaken and colors pale as they recede from view.  They used shading, occlusion, and vanishing points to make their paintings…hyperrealistic.” 

          Nolan stifled a yawn and cracked his knuckles. 

          “Now, let’s fast-forward to 17th century Netherlands.  The Dutch developed a style of painting the French referred to as Trompe l’oeil.  That means, “trick the eye.”  These life-like paintings seem to jump from the frame.” The professor jumped a foot or so off the ground to illustrate his point. 

           Nolan Baxter clenched his jaw.  The professor side-stepped to a piece of art hanging on the creamy white walls.  “For example, if you’ll look at The Attributes of the Painter by Gysbrechts, you’ll see just that.” 

         Several overweight women huddled to the painting on the wall.  Sure enough, what appeared on the completed art was a three-dimensional depiction of the supplies of a painter.  A wooden frame with a darkened piece of canvas rolling off at the corner, paint brushes, and a pallet seemed to dangle from a painted-on nail.”