About the Author:
Terri Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the award-winning novel In Leah’s Wake. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and a writing teacher at Boston College. She was grateful and thrilled beyond words when In Leah’s Wake hit the Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestseller lists in August. She owes a lot of wonderful people – big time! – for any success she’s enjoyed!
It's my honor to have Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake, as a guest here on Reads, Reviews, Recommends. This interview has been a long time coming, and finally it is here. So, let's start with a little getting to know you:
Please state your name, your occupation, and your cocktail of choice for our dear readers.
First, before anything else, I’m a wife and mom. Professionally, I lecture at Boston College, where I’ve taught creative and nonfiction writing since 1996. I’ve also written copy for marketing, advertising and public relations, edited technical articles for trade journals, and edited a small trade magazine. In Leah’s Wake is my first novel. I’m currently at work on a second.
White wine or champagne used to be my cocktail of choice. Since moving to California I’ve become addicted to cucumber drinks. The first time a bartender offered a cucumber martini – in Katsuya, a terrific sushi restaurant in West Hollywood, I turned up my nose. He kept saying how great it was, I’d love it, blah, blah, blah, then – the kicker, he gave me a guarantee. If I didn’t like it, it was on the house. How could I say no? WOW! Lightly sweet and fresh, totally different from what I’d imagined. The cucumber jalapeño margarita, at Sol Cucina, in Newport Beach, is also amazing!
Well then, cucumber martinis for everyone! Barkeep, please pass the glasses. Now, while everyone is getting a drink, tell us, if you could be a character from fiction, who would you be and why?
In my novel, In Leah’s Wake, the only non-family member with a voice is Jerry Johnson, the policeman. I see him as the connecting force in the novel and for this family. Though flawed, like all of us, he takes his responsibility for others to heart. I see police officers as the connecting force in communities. Every day they put their lives on the line. To me, they’re our real life heroes.
With this in mind, if I could be any fictional character, I would be Sara Paretsky’s PI, V.I. Warshawski. I’ve always admired Gail Mullen Beaudoin, a police officer in Chelmsford, MA. Gail brings strength, dignity and grace to a very difficult job. In a fictional character, V.I. is the closet I can come to Gail - two very strong, caring, centered women. Theirs are very big, wonderfully feminine shoes to fill.
Very interesting. I see a trend of law enforcement characters. You sure you didn't want to be an officer at some point in your life? But that's not my real question. What I really want to know is: what's your favorite thing to eat on a rainy day?
I’m a foodie, so this is a really tough question! On rainy days, I like to cook. I watch very little TV. I like The Good Wife and I’m hooked on Criminal Minds, especially the episodes edited by my immensely talented friend, indie filmmaker Nina Gilberti. Turn on the Food Network and I fall into a rabbit hole. I dislike most reality TV – Iron Chef? Now we’re talking. On a rainy day, I’d probably make something warm and hearty – Coq Au Vin or beef bourguignon.
Since I just watched Julie and Julia, lets go with beef bourguignon. See, now, I'm hungry. Let's switch topics to on Writing:
When did you first start thinking that you wanted to be a writer?
Until high school, I planned to be visual artist - a graphic artist or painter. At heart, though, I’ve always been a writer. As a child, I entertained myself by making up stories and acting in my own improvisational plays. In high school, I took an advanced writing course; I loved the class and began writing for the school paper. One day, brazenly, I walked into office at the town paper and asked the editor for a job. At first, I covered sports and other high school news; soon, I was given my own column. I was sixteen. That column was my first paid writing job. I earned about a dollar a week – and I knew then that the only job I’d ever want would be as a writer.
That's so cool! To actually get paid for writing at sixteen. I was still finding my writing legs at that age. Let's move on to your novel, why is your title In Leah's Wake and how did you come up with it?
I tried a lot of different titles, but none seemed quite right. One night, Dave and I were talking and starting batting titles around. He came up with In Leah’s Wake. I liked it because the book really is about the people – the family, the community, all the people left in Leah’s Wake when Leah rebels. While the churning suggests angst, for me it also brought to mind the image of swirling snow, which I use at the end of the novel. Connecting that image with the sound of Justine’s voice, I hope, conveys a sense of connection and hope. Her voice rings through the church, and the sound waves reach outward, connecting the people, the community, and ultimately tie back to the family.
Like any endeavor, I'm sure writing In Leah's Wake wasn't easy at times. As a writer, how do you deal with writer's block?
I’m only ever truly blocked—I can’t string words together at all—when I’m anxious, if I’m worried about someone I care about. When I first sit, I sometimes feel blocked, the nasty editors on my shoulders heckling: You think you’re a writer? Seriously? Nine times out of ten, I dig in; the writing may be choppy at first, but eventually I regain fluidity. When the demons get too loud to ignore, I read. Reading, like meditation or yoga, sends me to my happy place. In my experience, years working with professional and emerging writers, a block is almost always caused by self-doubt. The trick is to find a way to settle your mind, calm yourself, get those nasty editors off your shoulders. For me, reading provides an escape. For others, walking, meditating, listening to music can help.
I agree with reading. If there's anything I learned from my writing professors, it's that read. Read as much as you can as often as you can. So, like my professors, what advice would you give to all fledgling writers out there?
Believe in yourself. To deal with rejection, boot your computer, day after day, when it seems as if no one cares, the stars are misaligned – to indie publish in a world that still privileges the traditionally published - you have to believe in yourself.
Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re alone with our work. That loneliness can wear on you, and cause you to question yourself. A community of caring writer friends, supporting and encouraging you, can make all the difference.
Hold onto your dreams. You can make them happen. Don’t ever give up!
On that note, let's step into the On Life section of this interview:
What gets you through a tough day?
My family. My husband and kids make every moment worthwhile. Without them, I’d have nothing. On the worst days, my husband is there to hold my hand, pull me off the ledge, give me a hug. Somehow – I have no idea how – he manages to put up with me. Either I’m one amazing wife or he’s a saint. Most of the time, it’s the latter.
Absolutely right. Family is the cornerstone of our support system. If you could do something all over again just to get a different outcome, what would it be?
If anything, that I had published In Leah’s Wake sooner. I was too scared or too stupid, maybe, to self-publish. I was afraid of the stigma, scared of what people would think. As a result, I wasted several years floundering, when I could have had my book out there, learned from my mistakes, and, by now, have written one or two more books.
Of course, we don’t get do-overs, so it’s always best, I think, to be grateful for and appreciative of where we are. If I’d published In Leah’s Wake sooner, I would not have met Emlyn, who’s made all the difference in the world for my career. Going in, I knew nothing whatsoever about social media. I mean nada. Without Em and Novel Publicity, my book probably would have floundered. I seriously doubt that we would have sold 20,000 copies in the last six months! So I’m grateful to be where I am, even if it did take a while to get here.
Yes, a big shout out to Emlyn. Stay-tuned because I have an interview with her as well in the coming days. Okay, let's wrap this interview up with a beautiful bow, shall we? If you could have a conversation in the park with someone living or dead who would it be and why?
Jesus, for humanitarian reasons – he loved, trusted and forgave people, even those who didn’t deserve love, trust or forgiveness, and he forgave out of strength, not weakness.
Thank you so much for that insightful interview, Terri. Like I said, it is a pleasure having you here. And dear readers, if you want to know more about Terri's wonderful novel, I have all the information you need below.
About the Book:
IN LEAH’S WAKE
Terri Giuliano Long
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Website: www.tglong.com In Leah’s Wake
2011 BOOK BUNDLZ BOOK CLUB PICK
Recipient of the Coffee Time Reviewers Recommend (CTRR) Award
The Tyler family had the perfect life - until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn't want to be perfect anymore.
While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah's younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake.
Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn't enough?
Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel.
Barnes & Nobles: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/In-Leahs-Wake/Terri-Giuliano-Long/e/2940011264566?itm=1&USRI=In%2BLeah27s%2BWake
Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780975453391
Grab a copy now! And as always, Happy Reading!