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Interview with Tim and Debbie Bishop, Authors of Two Are Better

Two Are Better new cover

About Two Are Better

From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?

Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Are-Better-Midlife-Newlyweds/dp/0985624825/

Purchase from Open Road Press: http://www.openroadpress.com/store/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tim and Debbie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Two Are Better, is all about?

A: Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast is the true story of two lifelong singles who come together in marriage at age 52, and then cross America on a self-supported bicycle tour on their honeymoon. Issues surrounding midlife courtship, marriage, and other life changes—and the lessons learned along the way—make Two Are Better more than just a travelogue.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: We decided to share our unique story of finding true love in our fifties and celebrating with a bicycling odyssey to beat all because we believe our testimony is a gift that can benefit others. We waited many years for companionship and intimate love, and had become entrenched in the grind of daily living. We think our story of breaking free will encourage, motivate, and bless people who are struggling with unfulfilled dreams and desires. And most people have them at some level. Sharing deep personal matters in the context of an adventure that others may fantasize about provides a perfect setting to engage readers with powerful and lasting impact. A dual narrative from the seat of a bicycle, as well as some captivating photography along the way, will also provide a fresh perspective on the beauty of America, and an entertaining read.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A: We had the benefit of writing a memoir, so much of the content is based on our own personal experience. We learned how to blog during our trip, which became a valuable aid in the writing process. Our photography, trip log, and payment receipts helped to stir the memory and fill in the gaps. Since we shared this adventure together, each of us remembered unique aspects and reminded the other. And a GPS, along with downloadable capabilities and the power of the Internet, allowed us to retrace our steps when necessary.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A: The strongest underlying message of Two Are Better is that it is NEVER too late to realize your dreams—and to fulfill your desires. There is always hope!

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: “There they were: three big ones. I could see them from afar as they began barking and sprinting down their owner’s driveway, launched like a triad of missiles at the prospect of fresh meat. The driveway was about the size of a football field, so I had some time to gather my thoughts. They seemed on pace to intercept me when I arrived at the end of what had become their racetrack. And Debbie was several feet behind me. Surely, no one on this isolated stretch of road would be investing in invisible fence technology, but I could hold out hope. Since Debbie had our only can of pepper spray, it would do me little good. And another troubling thought occurred to me: If I get through this pack in one piece, what about Debbie? She’s lagging behind and sure to encounter these snarling canines. Nevertheless, I wasn’t inclined to stop and serve up lunch on a silver platter to these mutts.”

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

A: We had a choice to make going into this project. Would we seek a traditional publishing solution, or venture out on our own? Swayed by the primary motivation to share the story, we decided to start our own publishing company, Open Road Press. In effect, we traded in one set of challenges for another, but we remained in control of our message and our destiny, at least until readers were to weigh in.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: Our days no longer seem typical. Since “retirement” from long-term jobs, we are both feeling our way along as we discover our new life together, and our new work models. Each day comes with its own unique challenges. Such is the nature of adventure in life!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: We’re in an exploratory stage and we have several options. Tim is considering a few ideas for another book. He also consults for two small businesses, and may seek to build upon that. Debbie wants to write a program on learning to read, using the Bible. She also has a few part-time teaching opportunities. Both of us continue to serve as volunteer hope coaches for TheHopeLine, an organization spotlighted in Two Are Better. TheHopeLine has made a difference in the lives of many young people, aged 13-29, who came to them in crisis. We count it a privilege to be involved with that organization.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Tim and Debbie. We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for this opportunity to share our thoughts with your readers. We hope that our words have encouraged them to pursue their dreams anew.

About Tim and Debbie Bishop

Tim BishopTim Bishop

Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Debbie BishopDebbie Bishop

Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.

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Interview with Hans Lindor, author of “I Am Going Where I Belong”

Hans Lindor

Hans Lindor, novelist, screenwriter and playwright, has a singularly unique perspective on life and has earned many accolades for his fiction and poetry.

Hans Lindor has used his extraordinary life experiences to inspire young people, and has given motivational speeches and workshops to students in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida, advocating against guns, drugs and violence and giving students hope for rising above hardship and social struggles.

For more information about Hans, you can visit his website at www.hanslindor.org

Q: Thank you for this interview, Hans. Can you tell us what your latest book, I am Going Where I Belong, is all about?

A: Thank you for the opportunity. Haiti has always been in the news, and not in a good way. The country is battling a cholera epidemic that has already killed thousands living in remote areas, and is still in the recovery and reconstruction stage after the devastating earthquake. Now there are reports that earthquake survivors, mostly children, are being smuggled into the Dominican Republic and used as prostitutes, drug peddlers, and beggars. It is astonishing to see innocent individuals at the mercy of their grim circumstances. I am Going Where I Belong begins in Haiti where 14 year old Hans Leger is a member of a privileged family. A detour by the family chauffeur one day has Hans and his younger brother seeing a part of Haiti that had been hidden from them. Not long after this chance encounter, Hans’ father is brutally gunned down during a violent coup d’etat, and he, his mother, and younger brother are forced to flee to Miami in search of peaceful refuge. Little does Hans know, though, that upon his arrival in the States, the real challenges of his life are only just beginning…

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Marie, a rape victim at eleven years old, is now a fifteen year-old homeless mother who considers her life to be worthless. She never went to school. She doesn’t know how to read or write. Her parents are dead. She is forced into prostitution. Edouard, Hans’ father, a former US Marine, is 42 years old. He works for the Haitian government as Finance Minister. Chriscile is a piano teacher, painter, and choreographer. Edouard dies during a coup d’etat. After his death the family fortuitously fled the country to live in Miami.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: Yes. I am very passionate to write about real people, however, my characters are totally from my own imagination. My goal is always to make my characters as real as possible so that any readers can relate to them in some way. The response and reviews that I am getting from readers about this book “I am Going Where I Belong” are that it reads like a heartrending memoir. I have several readers who emailed me to send me their sympathy after reading this book, to let me know how sorry they are that I had to go through all of this drama in my life. Some even sent me their prayers. I truly appreciate that there are still some people in this world who care about one’s suffering. One reviewer even gave me three stars. When I contacted that reviewer to ask how could I have made the book better, she told me, “You have a wonderful story about your life that is so inspiring, but you chose not to fully share it with others. I wanted to know more about your life story.” I smiled when I read that. However, this book is not about my life. This book is not my memoir or autobiography. My goal was to write a book that is inspiring. I wanted to write a book to make people feel the pain of the Haitian children and people. I hope I succeeded in doing so, and I would also like to thank my editor for helping me to achieve this objective.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: My way of starting to write a story is abnormal. I always start my story from the ending, and then skip to the beginning, and from there I let the story unfold. I really never know what I am going to write about until the story starts developing itself. I never know my plot, or what I am going to write about, even though I am deep in the middle of the story. However, I let my inspiration guide me throughout the whole writing process. I am the slave of my inspiration. When I am writing, I become a different person. I want to be the character that I am creating.

Q: Your book is set in Haiti. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: I started writing this book back in 2006. Just like in the book, my friends and others kept asking me, “Hans, why don’t you write about your story?” I always answer, I can’t write about my story while I am still alive. Each day that passes, basically opens a new chapter in my life. Therefore to me is worthless for one to write about his or her own story. Anyhow, that’s how I ended up writing a story that is based on Haiti. Haiti is a torn country, and today, after a democratic presidential election, two dictators decided to return to Haiti. Both claimed they have returned to bring their moral and intellectual support to the country. Don’t get me wrong, they both have the right to return to the country. No one should ever be forced to flee or leave his or her country. My only hope is that they will only do what they said they came to do. Enough is enough. The country is moribund and it has suffered for decades after decades, all at the mercy of its own politicians and people. The victor will inherit a torn country that is still in the recovery and reconstruction stage after the devastating earthquake. Described in more vivid and grim terms in the book, I sum up Haiti’s existence in one sentence: “The existence of the Haitian people seems based on despair, vicissitudes, and destitution.”

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Throughout the book Haiti is front and center. The American people and others know two things about Haiti as it’s always being described by the media: poverty and violence. The media tend to forget that the country has some good things about it as well. I blame the Haitian so-called politicians for shamefully giving this image about the country. Let’s take Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Mexico for examples: not to denigrate them, but these countries have some downsides with violence and poverty as well, yet they are always portrayed as vacation/romantic getaways. Why is that? They simply have better politicians who somehow care about their country’s dignity. I think it is now time for our ostensible politicians to search within their souls to make the right choices and finally move the country forward, but I doubt it will happen. I am an idealist. I am Going Where I Belong gives my point of view on my solution for Haiti. The book explains and shows a different side of the country.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: The main character, Hans, is hanging out with his friends. He is telling them that he caught his cheerleading girlfriend with another. But Johny, an ex-Marine friend of Hans, wants to talk about something else while drinking his beer. He is expressing his disdain toward the American government’s foreign policy. His belief is that the USA is being the cop of the world, going to the Middle East and killing other nations for oil, and that America is responsible for all the trouble in the world. He believes if the American government really wanted peace in the world, we would have it by now. Instead, they choose to spend billions making nuclear bombs while millions of children are starving to death in Haiti and Africa and other places, even here in the USA itself. He is getting very frustrated pouring out these fearful words. It’s fun!

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: The excerpt that I am giving you is about Marie, the girl I wrote about in the book.  At 15, she considered her life to be worthless. She never went to school. She didn’t know how to read or write. Her parents were dead. She was forced to sell her body as a way to save her life, or she would have faced death if she refused to comply. When hunger became unbearable, Marie begged, hoping to get some change to be able to feed her son, whom she had after she was raped. She was a young woman in despair, buried in the human meanness of society. People don’t know that child prostitution is the second biggest income in the world. There are many young girls like Marie around the world, who forcefully sell their youthful bodies to survive each and every day. I wanted the readers to hear their voices. Here it is:

 

     I walked by an abandoned park where another group of suppliers installed their merchandise. A rusty fire hose poured out water onto the street. I had to walk on my tippy toes to avoid getting my shoes wet when I crossed the street to get to the cemetery. I looked all around for the girl. She was nowhere to be found. As I walked among the gravestones, I saw a girl pulling up her panties, then a white man in his late thirties or early forties zipping up his pants. The white man handed the girl some money. She looked at me with teary eyes as she mumbled, “Mesi blan” (“Thank you, sir”) to the man. My heart pounded as rage ran through my veins. The foreigner left and the girl walked out of the cemetery. She handed over the money to a Haitian man who was waiting for her by the exit. I guessed he was her pimp.I am going to where I belong

     “Good job,” the Haitian man said to her. Yet again, I wanted to confront this guy but I had to bear in mind that in this country, death is just a game; you can easily get killed before you even take your next breath. I looked up to the blue sky and whispered a few words to God. Out of nowhere, the little boy whom I’d seen crying yesterday ran up to her.

“Manman(“Mommy”)” he cried in Creole, hugging her with jubilation. I was shocked yet contented to see that naked little boy with a swollen belly and dry skin in high spirits that day. I walked up to them and handed some money and my lunch to her.

     “Thank you, sir.” She bowed her head to thank me.

     “You are welcome,” I said to her.

     The little boy snatched the lunchbox from her and was fast to unzip it.

     “Wait!” She seized the box back from him. He got angry, throwing himself on the dusty ground next to a homeless man sleeping on three pieces of cardboard. “Here, here. You are never fully satisfied. Leave some for later.” Embarrassed, she tendered the box back to him.

     He got to his feet, eyes filled with light tears, and smiled at his mother. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He unwrapped the sandwich and took a huge bite. I stood there thinking how at home we wasted food every day when there were so many men, women and children dying from malnourishment in this country. Watching this little boy fighting his mother for a lunch I probably would have wasted made me realize how fortunate I was. To them, this egg sandwich was a treasure, and to me it belonged in the trash.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Hans.  We wish you much success!

A: My pleasure. My name is Hans Lindor, author of I am Going Where I Belong. I wrote this novel because I believe every child has the right to live, and that women are the beauty of life and face of nature. They should never be abused, whether it is in the mental or physical sense. Every human being should have the right to freedom. I Am Going Where I Belong demonstrates that one can overcome social hardships. The message of the book is clear and simple: never let racial barriers, poverty, depression or hopelessness rob you of your dreams and prevent you from achieving greatness. Please find an organization of your choice to make a donation, whether it is to help fight hunger, human trafficking, abuse, prostitution, or violent acts against women. There is a legitimate non-profit organization one that I personally recommend, “Serving Our World.” Please visit their website to make a donation, www.servingourworld.org. I can also be contacted via my website at www.hanslindor.org or http://www.goodreads.com/hanslindor.

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West Oversea: Interview with Lars Walker

We are honored to welcome Lars Walker here today at As the Pages Turn!

Lars is a native of Kenyon, Minnesota, and  lives in Minneapolis. He has worked as a crabmeat packer in Alaska, a radio announcer, a church secretary and an administrative assistant, and is presently librarian and bookstore manager for the schools of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in Plymouth, Minnesota.

He is the author of four previously published novels, and is the editor of the journal of the Georg Sverdrup Society. Walker says, “I never believed that God gave me whatever gifts I have in order to entertain fellow Christians. I want to confront the world with the claims of Jesus Christ.” His latest release is West Oversea: A Norse Saga of Mystery, Adventure and Faith.

Visit Lars online at www.larswalker.com/ and his blog at www.brandywinebooks.net/ .

 

Q: Thank you for this interview, Lars. Can you tell us what your latest book, West Oversea, is all about?

West Oversea is a historical fantasy, based on actual characters, which begins in Norway a little after 1000 A.D. Erling Skjalgsson, the hero, is the most powerful man in Norway until a question of honor forces him to give up his property and power. He sets out on a voyage to trade with Leif Eriksson in Greenland (he probably did actually know Leif). A storm at sea, plus supernatural forces, take them to unplanned destinations (such as America) and daunting adventures. 

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 

My hero is Erling Skjalgsson, as I said. He’s a saga character with a lot of appeal to the modern reader, because we’re told he had a system for helping his slaves buy their freedom. My own reading of his story (and I know a Norwegian historian who agrees with me) is that he spent his life fighting for the traditional Norwegian democratic system against kings who wanted to institute a foreign-style, autocratic monarchy. The narrator is his Irish priest, Father Aillil, an entirely fictional character I enjoy writing very much. He’s my hobbit—the bridge character who helps the modern reader relate to Erling’s heroic ethic. There are also various saga characters, including Leif Eriksson, and a vicious, shape-changing enemy. 

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 

Characters are an amalgam. I patterned Erling’s appearance on a friend of mine, who’s rather striking-looking. Otherwise he’s kind of my ideal of what a hero should be, largely based on a kid who once defended me on a playground when I was in first grade. Father Aillil is me, if I were braver and more fun. 

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write? 

I collect ideas for a story until I feel I have the basic points of a narrative. Then I jump-start it, and see whether it goes where I plan or not. 

Q: Your book is set in Norway, Iceland, America, and Greenland.  Can you tell us why you chose these locations in particular? 

I wanted to deal with the whole sweep of the Norse exploration of the North Atlantic. The Norwegian historian I mentioned, Torgrim Titlestad of the University of Stavanger, suggested in one of his books that Erling might have taken a voyage to Greenland. I’d hit a point in Erling’s career (this is actually the second book in the Erling series) where the saga doesn’t tell us what he did for a while. I figured it was a good time to open the story out. 

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

A voyage story is all about the journey. When we travel in real life, we travel to meet new people, among whom are ourselves. We travel to discover new places, among which are our homes.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Our characters are in Iceland. Snorri the Chieftain, a character familiar to Icelandic saga readers, is telling the story of his part in the conversion of Iceland to Christianity (according to historians, the only instance of such a conversion being accomplished by parliamentary action).

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

 Sure. 

We rode into the steading as shadows stretched across it. We dismounted outside the hall. We could hear voices inside, wailing like Rachel in Ramah. 

“They’ll be in there now,” said Kjartan. “Who’ll come in with me?” 

“Everyone looked at me. 

“I suppose I’d best have a look,” I said. 

Houses in Iceland are thick-walled, and the screaming I’d heard from outside was as silence to the calamity of shrieks that outraged my ears as I passed through the entry and into the hall. Judging by the sound, I looked to see swarms of spirits damned being savaged by spear-wielding Azazels. What I saw was at once commoner and stranger. 

The house was walled into two rooms, besides the entry. The first room we entered (the smaller of the two) was filled with the members of the household, those who yet lived. There were only a handful, and they looked as if they’d eaten little and slept not at all for days. 

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Lars.  We wish you much success! 

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

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Interview with Daisy Jordan – Author of Love Means Zero

Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.

You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Daisy. Can you tell us what your latest book, Love Means Zero, is all about?

A: Love Means Zero is about Hilton, a recent college grad with a dead-end job at a portrait studio, unexpectedly landing a freelance role with Game Set Match magazine, which she refers to as “the Us Weekly of tennis.” Hilton has always dreamed of traveling the world and taking gorgeous photographs, and suddenly, she is doing just that. It’s about the best life she can imagine—partying with the players and their famous girlfriends, seeing fantastic tennis every day, and jetting off to a new place every week. But for her boyfriend Luke, it’s about the worst life he can imagine. He’s stuck at home in Indiana finishing law school, and the more Hilton’s gone, the less she seems to miss him. As he closes off from her and harbors a relationship-changing secret, Hilton, a happy-go-lucky believer in love and fate, laughs off her feelings for one of the world’s top-ranked tennis players as nothing more than a celebrity crush. But then, in one intense, heart-wrenching, thrilling, and thought-provoking moment, Hilton’s world turns upside down as she starts to see that love may not be as powerful or fate-determining as she thought.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Hilton is easygoing, free-spirited, and in love with life. She believes everything happens for a reason, but she also believes in going out and making things happen for herself. She is head-over-heels in love with her boyfriend Luke, whom she’s been with for almost six years. She is intuitive, thoughtful, confident, and spontaneous, and her friends mean everything to her. However, she also knows she sometimes has to put herself first, even if it could mean hurting someone else.

Luke is tall, good-looking, and laid-back. The most important people in his life are Hilton and his other two roommates, Jill and Todd. He is 100% happy with his current life—living with them while he finishes law school. After that, he imagines marrying Hilton and basically continuing with their life as it is—fun-filled times with great friends.

Jill has been Hilton’s best friend since ninth grade and is the only person to whom Hilton can truly tell everything. She is wildly in love with her boyfriend Todd, who has long been the guy of her dreams. Jill has experienced a lot of tumultuous rollercoasters in her life, and in the past, Hilton was usually the one with the awesome relationship, while Jill was usually single and struggling with guy issues. In this book, their roles begin to reverse.

Tanner grew up in Aspen, Colorado, moved to Vero Beach, Florida to play tennis when he was fourteen, and now is ranked No. 3 in the world. He quickly became a fan favorite on the tennis tour because of his funny and gracious personality…and his killer looks. He is part boy next door, part New York City partier. He is genuinely interested in people, he supports animal charities, and he loves to go out and do crazy things in the spotlight—both on and off the court. Tanner always has fun with whatever he does, and his magnetic energy draws in everyone around him.

Haidin is tennis’ most notorious bad boy. Ranked No. 5 in the world, his press conferences have to air on tape delays because of his penchant for profanity and outrageously offensive comments. He dates model/actress Aubrey Gage, and their scandal-filled relationship garners him as much, if not more, media attention—and backlash—as does his complete lack of sportsmanship in tennis. There’s a reason he acts like he does, but it’s one nobody would ever guess.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are almost completely from my imagination. I do occasionally give them traits of real people I know, which I usually do to make my friends and family laugh. For example, in Everything Happens for a Reason…, which is about Hilton, Luke, Jill, and Todd in college, I made one of their guy friends a really terrible dancer. I knew this would make all my college friends laugh, because it would remind them of one of our guy friends who was a really bad dancer. Hilton being a somewhat obsessive tennis fan is based on me, to an extent, although Hilton, being an actual tennis player, has a way better excuse to be an obsessive fan than I do. My friends and family think I’m slightly crazy, so they all kind of shook their heads and laughed when I told them Hilton was getting a job traveling with the tennis tour in my new book. For the most part though, my characters are unique, and one of the most fun parts of writing is developing them and getting to know them.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I am usually consciously aware of one or two big things that will happen over the course of the book, but I never make an outline or plan things in detail ahead of time. I just start writing and let the ideas flow. They always do, and sometimes those big things I had in mind before I started writing don’t even happen, or they happen differently from how I originally pictured. I would call my style of writing “go with the flow.” I let things happen naturally, I let the characters react to what happens, and the plot then takes a more realistic path.

Q: Your book is set all over the world.  Can you tell us why you chose this format for the setting?

A: I find travel invigorating, and I also know it can change the way people think and feel, especially when they travel for long periods of time. Hilton has always wanted to travel, and once she gets a taste of that life, nothing else is enough for her. She is dissatisfied and uninspired back at home in Indiana. When she travels, she takes something from each place she goes, whether it be a feeling, a memory, or a new way of looking at some aspect of life. Eventually, this does change the way she feels about her relationship with Luke, and about love in general, which never would have happened had she stayed in Indiana her whole life. I also use the different settings to invoke a thrill in readers. I absolutely love to travel, and reading about faraway places always makes me want to jump on a plane. I think a lot of people feel this way, and Hilton’s lifestyle, along with each section of the book taking place in a different location, adds excitement to the story.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: It absolutely does, in a couple of different ways. As Hilton travels and Luke sits at home growing more and more miserable, they begin to drift apart, and both of their views on the relationship—which at the beginning of the book was rock-solid—change. This probably never would have happened had they both stayed home and continued life as they had always known it. There is also one particular setting in the book, New York City, that plays a major part in the development of the story. Hilton spends much of her time there between tournaments, and she comes to see it as her “home away from home.” She names it as her favorite city in the world, and there comes a point when she is more comfortable there than she is in Indiana. There are also a couple times when something major happens, or doesn’t happen, because of Hilton being in New York.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: Hilton is in Paris on her first assignment for Game Set Match. One of her jobs is to sit in the hotel lobby at night, follow tennis players when they go out, and try to get scandalous pictures of them. She has seen all the big-name players cross through the lobby at least once during her first week there…except for Tanner Bruin. She is almost positive he isn’t staying in the hotel, and she wonders if he has a secret girlfriend. She sees him as a mystery and is intrigued by him, because he’s also her favorite player. Later that night, she talks to Luke on the phone and describes being in Paris with Game Set Match as “going from zero to sixty in like, two seconds.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: I’ll give you one of the best ones that doesn’t give away anything big, but hints at several key aspects of the story that you’ll see when you read the book! This excerpt happens on Middle Sunday of Wimbledon, and it takes on greater significance later in the story, in more than one way.

The four of them went to a dark, crowded, noisy pub right across the street from their hotel. When they walked in, they had to walk down a set of steep, creaky stairs into the main room, and Hilton liked it, because down here below ground it was warm and cozy and they were secluded from the rainy gloom outside. It was horribly smoky, but Hilton figured she could deal with it for one day. The atmosphere was festive; all over people were talking and laughing loudly while they downed pint after pint.

“Oh my gosh!” a girl behind the bar shrieked when they approached. “Oh my gosh. You’re Tanner Bruin. And you’re Bryony Adams. Oh my gosh! I read about you guys in Game Set Match. Hold on, I’ll clear a table for you right away.”

Tanner smiled his easy, sexy smile. “It’s okay, we’ll wait.”

The girl couldn’t take her eyes off him. “Oh my gosh.”

“What do you guys want?” Tanner asked, turning to Bryony, Hilton, and Luke. “First round’s on me. For Luke’s birthday.”

“Thanks, man,” Luke said. “What’s a good English beer? I feel like trying something new.”

“What would you recommend?” Tanner asked the girl.

“Ummm…” She was star-struck and could hardly seem to think. “How about Bass? It’s one of our best pale ales. It’s probably our most popular. I think you’ll like it.” The last comment was directed toward Luke, but Hilton laughed to herself as the girl’s eyes immediately darted back to Tanner. She only wanted to impress Luke because he was part of Tanner’s party.

“Oh no, we don’t want pale ale,” Tanner said. “Give us something dark. Something with some bite. You pick something. I’ll trust you. Whatever you think is best.” He grinned at the girl again. Bryony looked at Hilton, and they laughed.

“Okay! You want that in pints?”

“Sure.” Something about the way he said it was so sure, so confident yet warm. Hilton felt little tingles all over. Everything he did was such a turn-on. And he always looked so good too; he was wearing dark jeans with a blazer again, like in Paris, but this time he wore the blazer over a fairly tight-fitting Aerosmith T-shirt, and he wore black Adidas shoes with white stripes. Hilton loved the mix of casual and classy. Bryony was wearing dark skinny jeans and a long slinky purple shirt with a low V-neck that clung to her body and showed off how thin she was. Hilton was wearing jeans and a dark green lingerie-like top with thin spaghetti straps under a tight long-sleeved black shirt with a V-neck that went down almost to her stomach and showed off a lot of the shirt underneath. Luke had on jeans and a lightweight black long-sleeved shirt from The Buckle. It was tight and showed off his toned-but-not-too-huge upper body. Hilton thought he looked delicious too.

“Okay!” The girl scurried off a few feet and was back merely seconds later with their drinks.

Tanner pulled out a wad of cash.

“Oh, no, it’s on the house.” The girl beamed at him.

“Oh, well thank you.” Tanner slid a fifty-pound note across the counter, then picked up a pint and handed it to Bryony.

“That was like a hundred dollars!” Hilton hissed in amazement. “Wow. It’s her lucky day.” She laughed.

“Was it?” Tanner shrugged. “I don’t really know the conversions. I go so many places I can never remember the ones like here, that have their own currency. I’ve got the euro pretty down, but I can never remember pounds.”

“Must be nice not to have it matter,” Luke laughed.

“Hey, I see a table!” Bryony pointed, and they all rushed over.

They ordered food and talked for a few hours. Tanner and Luke asked each other lots of questions about where they’d grown up and what they liked to do, and Hilton loved how well they got along. She learned a lot about Tanner too; she’d known for a long time just from watching his matches on TV and listening to the commentators that he’d been born in Aspen, Colorado and had moved to Vero Beach, Florida with his family when he was fourteen to train, but now she was learning all the details. He said he missed Aspen like crazy; he hadn’t been skiing in three years because he never had time. He’d grown up skiing every winter, all winter long, and had looked forward to being on the alpine ski team in high school. Even though he was modest, Hilton got the idea he’d been pretty awesome at it. But he had been doing really well in some regional tennis tournaments, and when he’d realized he had the chance to make it big in that, he’d decided to go for it. He said someday he wouldn’t mind moving back to Aspen though; his family had moved back when he’d joined the pro tour. He told all kinds of stories about growing up there; his dad had worked at a ski resort so his family had always had free unlimited ski passes, and Tanner had started skiing when he was three. He’d snowboarded too, but he said that was more just for fun; he hadn’t ever planned to be competitive with it. He’d started playing tennis when he was three too, at the courts at the resort, and that was what he’d done all summer when he wasn’t skiing. He told about how when he was sixteen and back in Aspen for Christmas, he’d asked out a girl he’d liked back in middle school and taken her skiing, and she’d broken her leg on the first time down the slope. She’d lived in Aspen her whole life but hadn’t ever been skiing; her dad had forbidden her from it because his brother had died in a skiing accident. So Tanner had thought it would be romantic and bad-boy-like and adventurous to take her, and then after she’d broken her leg, her dad had told her she could never talk to Tanner again, but Tanner had only been in Aspen for another week after that anyway.

The four of them were practically rolling with laughter by the time he finished, and Hilton could tell Bryony was hearing all this for the first time too. After all, she’d only known Tanner since April. Hilton had tears streaming down her face. She loved the image of Tanner as a teenager, really liking this girl and trying to be reckless to impress her…it was totally hot and just reinforced her image of his personality.

He told them other stories about Aspen too, like how it wasn’t out of the ordinary at all to walk into the grocery store and see a celebrity—tons of them owned homes in Aspen and the neighboring Snowmass Village—and how a lot of people who worked in Aspen and Snowmass couldn’t even afford to live there and had to live in neighboring, less ritzy towns. As he talked…about the Aspen Music Festival every summer, the Winter X Games, how he and his friends would ski anytime they possibly had the chance…she could hear the love for Aspen in his voice. She felt a bond with him; she, Luke, and Bryony were hearing him talk about stuff not a lot of people ever got to learn.

“Do you ever wish you wouldn’t have left?” Hilton asked.

Tanner looked thoughtful. “I don’t think so. But I think about how it would’ve been different, where I’d be in life right now.” He smiled. “Maybe I would’ve made it big in skiing and gone to the Olympics and Bry would’ve seen me on TV anyway.” He flashed his gorgeous smile in Bryony’s direction, and she laughed and shoved into him with her shoulder.

“Probably, but I might not’ve been able to tell he was hot, if he was all bundled up in ski stuff,” she said, and they smiled easily at each other.

Hilton laughed, but she felt a little twinge of jealousy. She shook it off, knowing she was being ridiculous.

“No,” Tanner said, turning back to Hilton, “I really do think about it sometimes…what it would’ve been like. I think I would’ve had a blast going to high school there and stuff, and then who knows, maybe I would’ve played tennis in college and ended up going pro anyway. But I think part of me would’ve felt like I missed a chance, like I was too scared to take it.”

Hilton nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, I can see that.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Daisy.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you! I loved doing this interview, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity!

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What Inspired Me to Write My Book by Tom Graneau

http://www.renters-win.com/What Inspired Me to Write My Book

The inspiration for Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America essentially started in 1996. While sitting in an economic class for a Bachelor of Science Degree, it occurred to me that most people in the United States are broke. By that time, many of my fellow students had admitted, in one way or another, that they were borrowing money for college—thousands of dollars in student loans that would take years to pay back. Furthermore, during my course of business, I noticed that more and more people used credit cards for purchases instead of cash.

Interestingly, I was in the same financial predicament. I was using credit cards to pay for things, not because it was convenient to do so, I simply did not have the cash available. At the time, I had recently separated from the military and had difficulty finding a job without a degree that paid more than the minimum wage. My six-dollar an hour job was barely enough to pay for essentials. To make matters worse, I was receiving foreclosure threats from my lender who was demanding money to bring the mortgage current. Meanwhile, my credit card balances were skyrocketing.

“Struggling to keep my head above water,” as we often say, I considered filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. After graduation, approximately two years later, I found a job as a financial management specialist. I spent roughly ten years in that position conducting workshops, training, and private consultations for members of the military, government employees, and others in the community.

I enjoyed my work. Assisting my clients plot a course for financial solvency was emotionally rewarding. However, there was another side to the job that troubled me. As a result of my own financial experiences, combined with that of thousands of my clients, it became more clear to me that, as a culture, our personal financial problems are bigger than what most people are willing to admit.

I began to research the problem and discovered a widespread issue. Various surveys showed that most Americans are broke. Close to 90 percent of working adults live from paycheck to paycheck regardless of income, education, or career position. More research revealed that while the root problems are many, nothing devours more of people’s hard-earned income than the homes they buy. When the final numbers are tallied at the point of sale, assuming that they get the opportunity to sell the house, most home owners end up losing money on the deal. This is mostly because of inherent costs associated with the property—costs which are either ignored or not understood prior to purchasing the home.

I was determined to improve my own financial situation and felt equally concerned about helping others do the same. I began to address the issues affecting our personal financial performance in my first book, Are You Financially Checkmate? You live in an economic culture designed to keep you broke. Discover how to take control and free yourself from financial bondage. The book was released in 2005, but it’s now being revised to include more information and title change.

During my first writing project, I decided that the “home ownership” issue needed special attention—a venture that should be handled separately. Hence the book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. The work was published towards the end of 2009 and is now available for purchase in all books stores around the country and major online book retailers.

***

Tom Graneau is a personal financial management coach and author of a new book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. If you are tired of the bondage of debt and want REAL answers to personal freedom and financial independence, begin by turning things around with a no-nonsense approach to your housing option.

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Interview with Tom Graneau – Author of Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America

Tom Graneau is the author of Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. Lately, he spent roughly ten years as a financial management coach, conducting workshops and private consultations for people in the military, government agencies, and the civilian community. His first book, Are You Financially Checkmate?, was published in 2005 and is now being revised.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tom. Can you tell us what your latest book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America, is all about?

The real estate industry, including banks, mortgage companies, the government, and various other organizations have come together with one voice, claiming that home ownership is the most reliable path for financial prosperity. Presently, most Americans (70 percent, down from 83 percent in 2003) are preoccupied over the idea of owning a home as a financial investment. However, based on historical trends and statistical facts, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America debunks the wealth claim linked to home ownership.

On the contrary, when the opportunity for wealth building is compared between home buyers and renters, those who rent have greater propensity for financial success. Data indicates that those who have purchased homes (in some cases, more than once) are not necessarily better off financially than those who haven’t. For instance, more than 85 percent of the 78 million baby boomers in the United States are home owners. Many of them have bought and sold several homes. Yet, close to 90 percent of them are broke. The curious question is, where is the wealth earned from the home.

Additionally, more than 2/3 (78 percent) of American families are home owners. Nonetheless, the majority of them are strapped for cash, have little or no retirement savings, and are deep in debt. Renters Win, Home Owners Lose is a stunning, thought-provoking work that unravels the realities of home ownership. All told, renting is a wiser choice than buying.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

The inspiration for Renters Win, Home Owners Lose essentially started in 1996. While sitting in an economic class for a Bachelor of Science Degree, it occurred to me that most people in the United States are broke. By that time, many of my fellow students had admitted, in one way or another, that they were borrowing money for college—thousands of dollars in student loans that would take years to pay back. Furthermore, during my course of business, I noticed that more and more people used credit cards for purchases instead of cash.

Interestingly, I was in the same financial predicament. I was using credit cards to pay for things, not because it was convenient to do so, I simply did not have the cash available. At the time, I had recently separated from the military and had difficulty finding a job without a degree that paid more than the minimum wage. My six-dollar an hour job was barely enough to pay for essentials. To make matters worse, I was receiving foreclosure threats from my lender who was demanding money to bring the mortgage current. Meanwhile, my credit card balances were skyrocketing.

My desire to improve my situation led to research, which confirmed my suspicion about the financial condition of the masses. I discovered that the majority of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck regardless of income, education, or career position. The root problems are many, but nothing consumes more of our hard-earned income than the homes we buy. Hence the book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Most of my research was based on reference materials. The Statistical Abstract of the United States (2001 through 2009) served as a vital resource. Other sources included the annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), current events, personal experience, and clients’ contribution.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Common wisdom suggests that home ownership is one of the best pathways to financial prosperity. In reality, however, the concept works against people’s goals and expectations. Most people lose money on the property, often without realizing it. Instead, a person can be equally safe, comfortable, and wildly successful by choosing to rent while investing the extra money that would be “wasted” on a home.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

The Passion for Home Ownership

In the American culture, the passion for home ownership defies logic. Somehow, we’ve been impregnated with the idea that until we buy a house, our lives remain incomplete. Never mind how much education we have, how successful we are in other areas of our lives, or what position we hold in the community. Until we can say things like, “my home, our house,” etc., we continue to have feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Those who seek to become home owners are not necessarily homeless. Most of them are renters who live in comfortable, adequate housing conditions but have grown to dislike their situations because of cultural pressure. Renters have been branded as hopeless cases who will amount to nothing as long as they keep renting an apartment or a home from someone else.

Branding renters is no accident. In fact, it is a well-developed and orchestrated marketing system designed by the housing industry
to target renters regarding their basic needs. With help from its enabling allies, the industry has successfully labeled renting as an
undesirable and foolish lifestyle that provides no benefit. Those who rent are made to feel that they are fighting a losing battle—throwing money down the drain each month. Consequently, renters are on a mission to become home owners and hope to change their fate in life forever.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, less than half of Americans owned their homes. From 1900 to 1930, the home ownership rate hovered around 46 percent. Then came the Great Depression in the 1930’s, and many home owners lost their homes. The rate dropped to 43 percent. Two decades later, the rate dramatically increased to more than 60 percent and has continued to rise.

Much of this increase can be directly attributed to people’s eagerness to own homes. Various national surveys have given us clues into the mindset of Americans regarding home ownership. In 1996,mFannie Mae reported that in a thirteen-to-one margin, Americans would rather own a home than drive a new car. Almost 70 percent of the respondents said that they would put off retirement for ten years in order to own a home.

When the same survey was conducted in 1998, Americans continued to express strong desires toward home ownership. Six in 10 renters said that buying a home ranked between a very important priority and their number one priority in life. At the time, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 7.2 percent. That was high compared to what we’ve seen in recent years. Even then, 65 percent of Americans admitted that the timing was perfect to venture into home ownership.

Prior to the housing crisis in 2006, Americans were prepared to meet any challenge to own a house. In 2003, a Fannie Mae survey found that 67 percent of those who responded believed that it was a good time to buy a house, and 61 percent indicated that buying a house was a safe financial investment. During that time, housing sales had risen to an all-time high; mortgage interest rates had dropped to the lowest levels since 1960; and mortgage initiation had climbed to 40 percent from the previous year.

By 2004, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that the home ownership rate had broken all records. Nearly 70 percent of all existing housing units were being occupied by owners. In subsequent years leading up to the end of 2005, all departments within the housing market had experienced record-breaking results. New home construction topped the million mark and continued to climb. And although the median price of new and existing homes continued to skyrocket, Americans kept buying houses at record levels.

At the end of 2005, the housing market single-handedly accounted for 16 percent of the United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The estimated value of housing stock was $15.5 trillion—32 percent of the total wealth of the United States, and after subtracting mortgage debt obligations, home owners’ equity had increased to $10.9 trillion. If there was a time for people in the real estate and banking industries to celebrate, this was it. Both the housing market and the mortgage industry were flourishing.

But, we commonly say, “everything has its price.” Past all the business activities and money, there were several problematic issues brewing that few people took time to consider. One of which was the personal sacrifice that some Americans made in pursuit of home ownership.

Q:  In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

It is often said that writing a book is easy; publishing it is hard. This concept is partially true since writing itself is not easy. These days, any book can be published with money. But for one who has little or none of it, reaching the public with a message (fiction or nonfiction) can be difficult. My approach has been self-publishing through a reputable publishing house and using a systematic approach to promote the book. I am currently using, or have plans to use, the following mediums:

  1. Partnership: Forming alliances with companies who believe in the spirit or philosophy of the book.
  2. Radio Interviews: I believe, with the right message, one can reach a wide audience quickly, in the least expensive way.
  3. Publicity: Publicity is the next best effective method of promoting books. I plan to experiment with various press releases at regular intervals, hoping to obtain free national press coverage through print and broadcast media.
  4. Social Medi This medium has worked well for some authors. I’m currently experimenting with it.
  5. Book Reviews: Knowing how others feel about my book is important in the on-going effort of promoting it. Independent reviews are known to facilitate book sales. I’m continually seeking ways to get additional book reviews.
  6. E-mail Marketing Campaigns: Opt-in e-mail marketing is another good way of reaching people for book sales. The results are more effective when the list belongs to the author.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

The early morning hours (times vary) are devoted to writing; late morning and afternoon are spent running Writers Publications (my own publishing firm);  and late evening is spent on more writing with an hour or two reserved for some television entertainment.

Q: What’s next for you?

Currently, I’m revising my first book, Are You Financially Checkmate? I’m  also in the process of writing a book series for men, covering all aspects of how to become the best husband, father, role model, and leader.

Thank you so much for this interview, Tom. We wish you much success!

My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you. Here is one of my websites: http://www.renters-win.com/



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Interview with Ann Putnam, author of ‘Full Moon at Noontide’

Ann Putnam holds a PhD in literature from the University of Washington. She teaches creative writing and gender studies at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.  She has published short fiction, personal essays, literary criticism and book reviews in various anthologies including Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female Voice, and in journals, including the Hemingway Review, Western American Literature, and the South Dakota Review.  Her latest work is a memoir, Full Moon at Noontide:  A Daughter’s Last Goodbye.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Ann. Can you tell us what your latest book, Full Moon at Noontide:  A Daughter’s Last Goodbye?  is all about?

Yes, thanks for asking.  I’m going to give you a little excerpt from my “Preface”:  “This is the story of my mother and father and my dashing, bachelor uncle, my father’s identical twin, and how they lived together with their courage and their stumblings, as they made their way into old age and then into death. And it’s the story of the journey from one twin’s death to the other, of what happened along the way, of what it means to lose the other who is also oneself.

My story takes the reader through the journey of the end of life: selling the family home, re-location at a retirement community, doctor’s visits, ER visits, specialists, hospitalizations, ICU, nursing homes, Hospice.  It takes the reader through the gauntlet of the health care system with all the attendant comedy and sorrows, joys and terrors of such things.  Finally it asks:  what consolation is there in growing old, in such loss?  What abides beyond the telling of my own tale? Wisdom carried from the end of the journey to readers who are perhaps only beginning theirs.  Still, what interest in reading of this inevitable journey taken by such ordinary people?  Turned to the light just so, the beauty and laughter of the telling transcend the darkness of the tale.”

Q: Is this your first book?  If not, how has writing this book different from writing your first?

And the next day the trespass of her picture in the paper, her life so suddenly laid open for all to see, how she was carried off, half out of her mind.  She was twenty-one.   Then the violence of the hooks and barbed wire and dynamite to bring the bodies up. And the taste of the day bitter on her tongue forever after, and the plums, where were the plums?   Who had eaten the plums?”

They’d spread the tablecloth on the grassy hill above the beach, where they’d gone for a picnic—the bowl of fried chicken covered with a white linen napkin, and potato salad and cucumber pickles, fresh bread, and fruit.  There would have been chocolate, of course.  Pearl would have brought it from the candy store where she worked.

As they carried Alfreda off the dock, she looked back one more time to that place in the water where the boats now circled, so still, so dark.  How could he be so suddenly gone? That night she lay numb and disbelieving in her boardinghouse room, while thunder cracked against the house and the wind blew the curtains and someone came in but who? to shut the window.  She lay with her head in the pillow and tried to sleep, but every time she closed her eyes, she saw him floating over the bottom in that green, murky water, his arms outstretched in astonishment.  She did not see Pearl anywhere.  It was better to keep her eyes open.  So she watched the lightning flash across the sky as Will lay at the bottom of the lake, and she knew her prayers had gone unanswered.  When the lightning shattered the sky, she wondered what goodness ruled the universe now.

“Once the boat flipped over, she’d gone under fast, her skirts weighing her down, but she’d pushed through the dark green water with her strong, swimmer’s legs, to see William swim away from her and toward his sister, :Pearl, to see her grasp his neck and pull him down, no thrashing to the surface for a second try.   She saw the rush of water knit itself back again, still as glass.  When the other boats reached her she’d called out to leave her and save the others.  She’d stayed like that, hugging the boat for over an hour, refusing rescue until it was clear even to her that they were gone.  It was the first of May.

I’d like to illustrate this with an example from my memoir, which involves my paternal grandmother, whom I had never met, who watched her fiancé die in a boating accident.  It was the event that marked and marred the rest of her life.  I needed to understand this and the only access I had to her was through my imagination:

That being said, I must tell you that many scenes had to be invented, as it were, out of memory, dream, intuition, but invented from absolute fidelity to the “truth,” if that doesn’t sound completely contradictory.

Thank you for a wonderful question to think about!  Now I’ve published short fiction and written two novels, which I’m currently revising, so fiction is the logical choice for me.  In fact I was in the middle of revising a novel called Cuban Quartermoon, which is set in Cuba just after the discovery of Che Guevara’s bones, when life intervened and my duties as caretaker for my father and his identical twin brother took over everything.  When my uncle died, I began taking little notes—just words or phrases or lines someone had spoken, or first, quick impressions of what my family was going through. When my father died six months later to the day, I found I had collected several little notebooks full of such things.  Now the really interesting take on this question for me is why didn’t I render this family drama in fiction?  Why did I choose memoir?  My first novel was autobiographical and so this narrative of my parents might seem a natural for fiction.  Still, it was the voice that emerged from my little scattering of writings that felt like a memoir to me more than fiction.  I needed to be wholly, fully myself, with no masks at all, to tell this tale.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

I would say the first rough draft was the hardest.  The first thing I wrote described the death of my father, which comes late in the book as it was finally sculpted.  But I’d written that part for a reading at a conference.  It was about six months after my father had died and I thought I was ready to write about it.  I didn’t sit at my computer with tears running down my face at all.  I was cool and very much the writer at work, telling herself that she could do this just fine. But after about an hour, I would begin to feel ill. And sure enough found myself running a fever—the aches and weariness, the works.  I’d take a couple of Tylenol and lie down for an hour or so, and it would pass.  So I learned that I could only write about an hour at a time through those summer months.  That feeling eventually just sort of left me, and only returned now and then.  But as I wrote the memoir, I experienced more losses—the death of my mother, and then when I was doing final revisions, the death of my husband.  So I guess now that I look at it, it was all very very hard.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest work?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

So many readers have told me how my book has touched their lives.  There is no end to loss or to our experience of it. After my readings, people come up to me for a signing and want to tell me their own stories of loss and thank me for having giving voice to their own.

A magical story:  I received a message out of the blue on Facebook from someone named Susan, who asked me if I perhaps remembered her, as she was the nurse who cared for my uncle in the ICU at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, when he was dying.  She has no idea why she chose that moment to write me.  I had just published my book, and had not seen her since I walked out of the ICU years before.

I wrote her right back, and said, “Susan, I not only remember you but I wrote a book about it with you in it!”  And so we met over coffee and became friends.  I asked her how in the world she would remember my uncle and me across so many years and so many families that had crossed paths with her in the ICU.  She said, “How could I forget it?  What happened was as deep as it goes.”

I hope this little excerpt catches the magic and depth of her:

I still have not met Susan.

That night I do.  “Where do you hurt, Henry?” Susan croons to him like a love song.  She’s the night ICU nurse who is an angel on this earth.

“Everywhere,” he says. “I hurt everywhere.” And in a choreography of such lightness and air, she shifts his pillow, smoothes out the blankets, adjust his meds, and he can breathe again. Then she tucks him in for the long night, and he find his way back to the comfort of sleep.

“What’s happening to him?” I ask Susan.  She explains how systems are shutting down, one after the other.

“What is happening to his spirit?”  I ask Father Bill.

“He’s becoming pure spirit now, what he was and always will be.  He’s going to it now.  Everything else is falling away.”

His chest is quiet now, and the light has gone from his eyes though they are still open.  “We can give him something to close them,” Susan says.  Tears run down her face.  I am grateful for her tears because right then she is everybody who loves him who is not here.  And then as if on cue, his eyes close slowly, sweetly as in a dream, because that’s exactly where he is now.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

Ah, this is always such an interesting question.  I’m always asking this of others.  Still, turned to the light, I’m not sure I can answer this so easily.  I usually begin with little jottings and scribbles in a tiny notebook I always carry with me.  This way I’m not so intimidated at starting a big project.  At some point those jottings turn into free-writes. And this I can do easily and apparently endlessly.  Once I produced an eighty-page free write for a middle section of a novel.  It was a glorious time.  Words came unbeckoned and without end.  But then it stopped, and I had eighty pages of this and that and hardly any idea how to organize it.  So I’m very easy with right-brained writing, but seem to have little of the logical, left-brain to work with. So the next part can be terrifying and seemingly endless.  So I try outlines at this point but never ever before, as I try to encourage all apparent side roads.  I never know where I should really be going until I get there.   Eventually I have what I call a “working rough draft,” and at this point I begin to sculpt and shape and polish.  This is a calmer, saner process and I feel more in control.  Actually, at this point the terror leaves me and I can see what’s good and what’s really awful and does not deserve the light of day. These sections I move to the bottom of the manuscript in case I see later that they are worthy of redemption.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

I try to find some Law and Order re-runs. In this series, we don’t care about the victims because we only get to know them through flashback or refracted through the disingenuous views of others.  We don’t care about the killer because, well s/he’s the killer, after all.  After my husband died, this was the only thing I could do. I have no idea why.  I’d sit in this special place which was his special place, turn on the fireplace, and you know you can always find a Law and Order re-run somewhere.  It requires a left-brain engagement and unfolds without effort.  Reading is too difficult after a long stretch of writing.   Or if it’s in the middle of the day, I’ve stopped writing because the demands of life pull me out of it and rarely into anything relaxing. I do like the hot tub.

Q: What book changed your life?

A farewell to Arms. I read it as a college sophomore and it indeed changed my life.  After Catherine dies in childbirth and Frederick Henry walks out of the hospital into the rain, the book ends.  I remember putting it down and being unable to function for about a week I was so moved and taken with this book.  From then on I knew I would be an English major and that I wanted to live my life in the magic and power of language.  I wanted to be someone who could do that with words. I wanted to be someone whose work in the world was to teach others how to do this.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

Incantation

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

Inside I am very shy, and public performances come at great cost, though I do them very well.  All through graduate school I lived in fear that I would be found out as an imposter—I rarely raised my hand in class because I knew my answer couldn’t be right.   Now, as a new “widow,” and how I hate that appellation, I wish people knew how much I needed them but how shy I am of telling them.

Thank you for this interview, Ann. I wish you much success on your latest release, Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye.

Information about her book and how to order it can be found on her website at www.annputnam.com, which includes reviews and radio interviews and bio.  Her book can be ordered at any bookstore, through Amazon, and directly from the distributor at www.tamupress.com or by phone: 1-800-826-8911. She has a Facebook page also, as well as a website through her University: www.ups.edu/faculty/aputnam.html.

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