All posts tagged: writing process

Tori Starling talks about her debut, CRAZY FREE, traversing three generations of women, postpartum depression, anxiety; plus a defunct mental health institution, how we need more resources, the healing power of energy medicine, more

By Leslie Lindsay What if the story you had always been led to believe about your family was shaken with a new, devastating truth? ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Spotlight: Motherhood & Mental Health What if the story you had always been led to believe about your family was shaken with a new, devastating truth? That’s the overarching question in CRAZY FREE (Juniper Ray Publishing, April 20th), a debut by Tori Starling. I was immediately entranced with this stunning cover, but what’s more: CRAZY FREE focuses on issues that are near and dear to my heart: motherhood and mental illness. Emily Sharp has always known there were holes in her family history. Her mother, Pam, a high-strung attorney, rarely speaks of her father she despises and her mother died when she was a baby. Emily is a journalist with an assignment from Southern Speaks, a local magazine, to investigate a defunct mental institution known as Hamilton Meadow. While there, Emily discovers more about the institution and Pam reluctantly opens up about her sordid family …

Leah Hampton talks about her debut story collection, F*CKFACE, set in rural Appalachia, plus her writing tips & routines, climate change, geography, and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  A bold, brassy debut collection of short stories set in modern-day Appalachia explore the environmental and geographical elements of these resilient, durable–and often stubborn–folks. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Recently, my family and I visited rural Appalachia for the first time; I was swept away. The geography, the landscape was at once familiar, and yet foreign. It stirred me; cast a spell. Something about the purple haze unfurling from the mountains, the way they were formed when the African continent collided with the North American one, creating a buckle, then drifting away, seems somehow poetic and disturbing. And so when Leah Hampton’s F*CKFACE: And Other Stories (Henry Holt, July 2020) came to my attention, I knew I had to read it. F*CKFACE is comprised of twelve short stories, all set in Appalachia, and are at once funny, tragic, and disturbing. There are park rangers and corpses, illicit sex, dead bears and grocery stores, infertility, there’s a young man estranged from his parents and more distanced when he leaves for Afghanistan; there are frogs and locals and …

John McCarthy talks about the power of poetry, emotional response, the intuitive process of writing, the haunting landscape of the Midwest, an amazing reading list, and so much more in SCARED VIOLENT LIKE HORSES

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeously stark and stunning collection of prose poetry that is at once mysterious, raw, and evocative.  Selected by Victoria Chang (Pushcart Prize among many other accolades), as winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, John McCarthy’s SCARED VIOLENT LIKE HORSES is an examination of growing up–of masculinity–but there’s more. Buried beneath these complicated, yet tender words is a yearning. Maybe it’s to be seen, to be heard, for greater compassion. SCARED VIOLENT LIKE HORSES takes place in the Midwest–mostly Illinois–and this is something I completely ‘got.’ There’s a working-class grit, but also a sentimentality, a deep attention to detail, a nostalgia for simpler things. This work, I am guessing, is deeply personal about drunk fathers and unwell mothers, it’s about instability, and resilience, and isolation. And yet, it’s inspiring. I read SCARED VIOLET LIKE HORSES fairly quickly–a day or two–but it’s not meant to be rushed. I want to go back and savor the pages, fall into the folds of these glimmering metaphors, revel in the observations. This work deserves that. McCarthy’s tendency is storytelling–a narrative approach to …

What happens when you assemble a cast of boisterous, haphazard family members at a wedding? Maybe dysfunction. Leah Hager Cohen talks about this and more in STRANGERS AND COUSINS

By Leslie Lindsay  Sprawling multi-generational tale weaving contemporary views of love, marriage, family, birth, death, and secrets in a modern language, but with a timeless feel.   Leah Hager Cohen is the author of ten books, and has been recognized by People Magazine as a “masterful talent,” celebrated for her “keen insight,” (Bustle), and The New York Times says she is “eloquent…stunningly empathetic.” This is my first read from Leah Hager Cohen and STRANGERS AND COUSINS (Riverhead, May 14 2019) breathes magic into the simple, but not easy Erlend family. Cohen’s prose is glittering. There’s an elegance and timelessness to the way she strings words together, leaving me wholly enraptured.  Fans of Anne Tyler, Lorna Landvik, Elizabeth Berg, and Ann Packer will delight in this richly rendered tale. STRANGERS AND COUSINS is about a wedding. But that’s just a small microcosm of the layers and layers of uncomfortable truths in the Erlend family. There’s resistance to change (a new Jewish subgroup is moving into the community threatening a sense of cohesion); an elderly aunt with secrets of her own, a …

What if you felt trapped by your past–and needed permission to breathe? Jaclyn Gilbert tackles this & more in her debut fiction, LATE AIR

By Leslie Lindsay  In this piercing, lyrically compelling debut novel, Jaclyn Gilbert tackles marriage, loss, and finding one’s way home.  In the shadows of a predawn run, Murray tries to escape what he can’t control: His failed marriage. Grief. Even his own weakness. Murray is a college running coach insistent on his relentless training regimen and obsessed with his star athlete, until he finds her crumpled and unresponsive during a routine practice one morning. Unable to avoid or outrun reality, Murray is forced to face the consequences of his own increasingly tenuous grip on life—exacerbated by the dangers of his perfectionistic, singular focus as a former athlete and survivor of an unspeakable loss from his past. Weaving together the strands of two lives that form a union, Jaclyn pieces together  alternating narratives–Murray and his wife, Nancy, as we experience their early moments of hope and desire as well as their fears and failings. There’s time and trauma, grief, and ultimately healing. I asked Jaclyn a bit about her process, how she discovered the story and …

Wednesdays with Writers: Getting to “know” characters, Lisa Unger talks about the dichotomy of ordinary and extraordinary, how she ‘found’ the title to INK & BONE, how writing is a delicate union of observation & imagination, of intuition & creativity

By Leslie Lindsay  From her stunning debut, BEAUTIFUL LIES, to last year’s critically-acclaimed CRAZY LOVE YOU, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger is a force to be reckoned with. Today, I’m super-excited to welcome Lisa for her third visit and book chat. Join us as we delve into the dark world of a reluctant, edgy young psychic, the granddaughter of Eloise Montgomery. If you’re an Unger fan, you’ll know exactly who Eloise Montgomery is—we’ve met her in THE WHISPERING HOLLOWS series as well as a token appearance in CRAZY LOVE YOU. And if you’re not yet familiar with the complex, fearless, and original mind of Lisa, then it’s time to get you acquainted. Visited by apparitions and haunted by dreams since she was just a child, 20-year old Finley Montgomery has never been fully able to control the things that happen to her, from her personal life to other psychic-related events. She moves from Seattle, WA to the fictional town, The Hollows where she lives with her grandmother in hopes of understanding and harnessing her …

Write On, Wednesday: 4 BIG Questions for Writers

By Leslie Lindsay Just when I was thinking of what I ought to post for my weekly writing post, I got this tag (Tweet) from a colleage, David Ozab who writes in the Pacific Northwest. It has to do with four questions that are floating around in the blogosphere about–what else–writing!  At the end of this post I’ll tag three more writers. Question 1: What are you currently working on? I often have my hand in many pots, but this time I have learned to focus on one project at a time. Okay, well that’s not entirely true with two young kids, an aging basset hound, and well everything else that needs doing. But you want to know what I am writing?! Oh, that’s easy. A ghost story. Oh, you want more information? Okay, how about a ghost story based on an urban legend originating in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ll call it a “Midwestern Gothic.”  But there is so much more going on: orphans, miscarriages, the ghosts of Christmas’s past (Well, what I’m getting at is: most …

Write On, Wednesday: Interview with Author Deb Caletti

By Leslie Lindsay I am thrilled to feature National Book Award Finalist Deb Caletti to Write On, Wednesday!  When I came across her latest book, HE’S GONE (Bantam, 2013) it was quite honesty by accident.  Not the kind of accident that occurs between the covers of the book, but one in which you find yourself pleasantly surprised.  Having a long-standing career writing YA, this is Caletti’s first book intended for an adult audience.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. And now, I’d love to introduce Ms. Caletti and her world of fiction: Leslie Lindsay: Thank you for agreeing to be with us today, Deb.  HE’S GONE totally ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite books.  I fell in love the gritty manner you crafted sentences, the idea that things aren’t always what they seem, the interplay of memory versus reality and the mystery of what really happened.  Can you tell us how you came up with the premise for this book? Deb Caletti: “The idea for the book came much the same …

Fiction Friday: Special Guest, Anne Browning author of The Booby Trap

By Leslie Lindsay Anne Browning Walker, author of The Booby Trapis with is today answering questions and providing hints, tips, and insight into her latest book and her writing process.    As a writer, I am especially sympathetic to her last comment on all of the distractions to the writer’s life!   I think you will all find this a joy to read What inspired your latest novel, The Booby Trap?  (image source: Amazon.com 12.28.12) I was inspired to write The Booby Trap after a road trip with my husband through the South.  We passed signs for so many small towns with weird names, like Belcher and Toad Suck.  I thought about how people from those towns might be misperceived, based on where they were from, or perhaps an accent.  From that germ of an idea grew my main character, Bambi, who is misjudged because of her name and her good looks and the place where she’s working.  Who are the main characters of this story? ABW: My heroine is a sexy PhD candidate (they’re out there!) named …