Please welcome Katharine Davis, author of a new novel, A Slender Thread!
The recent winner of the 2010 Maine Literary Award for Fiction for her previous novel, East Hope, acclaimed author Katharine Davis has a new book out this August about learning how to find your way later in life: A Slender Thread (NAL Accent Trade Paperback; August 3, 2010).
by Katharine Davis
I am definitely a late bloomer, having postponed my writing career until the age of fifty. I’ve always been a huge reader and writers are the rock stars of my world. When my children were launched, and I stepped away from my teaching job, I asked myself: if not now, when? I began to write fiction and discovered that I loved writing novels.
First-time novelists often write a coming of age story – the drama of growing up, leaving home, and dealing with the conflicts of the adult world. Most first time novelists are in their twenties or thirties. They tend to look for stories within themselves.
Instead, my novels focus on the challenges one encounters at mid-life. Capturing Paris, my first novel, was the story of a woman coming into her own as a poet in her late forties, while her husband has lost his job, which puts their marriage into conflict. Two characters at mid-life move to Maine to try to reinvent themselves and find happiness in my second novel, East Hope. Their lives have been set off course because of an unexpected death, a failed marriage, and a ruined career.
Sometimes the troubles that come along in mid-life are tragic. Try to imagine eight women around a table in a museum restaurant talking about a photography exhibit. The women, most of them in their fifties, well dressed and accomplished, are enjoying themselves. They comment enthusiastically on art, current events, books, movies, and their own families.
Yet, one woman says nothing at all. She is visiting from the West Coast and she is the college roommate of one of the guests. She looks no different from the women around her. She has a loving husband, has raised two children, and has had a successful career in real estate.
Except, unlike the other women at the luncheon, this woman has a rare brain disease. Her name is Anna and she can no longer speak. When it is time to order lunch the woman next to Anna asks her if she would like the chicken salad. Anna nods in agreement. She still understands language, but eventually, as her disease progresses she will lose her ability to comprehend anything at all.
Two years ago I was a guest at that luncheon. I met Anna, a woman very much like me, but a woman whose life had begun to unravel in a way she never expected. I was writing another novel at the time, but every day when I sat at my computer to work, I kept thinking of Anna. I tried to imagine what this tragedy was like for her husband, for her children, and for the many friends who loved her. Here was a vibrant woman in her prime who could not utter a word.
[amazonify]0451230108[/amazonify]I didn’t want to tell Anna’s personal story. I don’t know her family, or even her last name. Instead, I began writing a new novel, and A Slender Thread was born. It is the story of two sisters, the elder of whom is diagnosed with the same disease, Primary Progressive Aphasia.
How do we find the strength to cope in the face of adversity? How do we start over at mid-life? Are we capable of change? Do we ever truly leave the past behind? How do we communicate? Are words enough? Is love enough? These were the questions I asked myself while writing A Slender Thread. Over the next year that chance meeting became a novel.
One warm afternoon last spring I found myself thinking about a summer I had spent in Florence, Italy when I was twenty-one years old. I stayed at a small hotel, more of a bed and breakfast, and I remembered the Italian woman who cooked and served the lunch there. I also had the vague recollection of a very old English woman who lived in a shabby room on the top floor with her ancient husband. I knew immediately I had the germ of a novel. I can picture three women in Florence, three different nationalities, three different ages, but all living together in the same little inn. Why are they there? What do they fear? What do they hope for? The questions keep coming and the scenes are already forming in my head. Maybe I have a coming of age novel after all? But memory being what it is, I think I need to travel to Florence for some necessary research!
I have 2 copies of A Slender Thread to giveaway, courtesy of the publisher!
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This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on August 30th.
Giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by NAL Trade. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.