Sara J. Henry: The interview

We discovered something more about Sara J. Henry and her book Learning to swim

di Silvia Menini

Pubblicato martedi, 5 novembre 2013

Rating: 5.0 Voti: 2
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How and why did you decide to write this book? What did inspire you?
I had always dreamed of writing a novel, and soon after a move (to Nashville, Tennessee) I made myself join a writing group, for the first time. There I met some other writers and formed a smaller group, and I began the novel. Having someone to hand chapters off to each week gave me the structure and impetus I needed to actually finish a novel.

How long did you spend writing it? What difficulties did you run into?
I finished it fairly quickly once I started handing off chapters weekly (in my small writing group, and to a neighbor friend). The difficulty was that parts of the novel simply were not good, and I didn’t know how to fix them – I didn’t know how to rewrite. This novel went into a drawer for a very long time. Then, after attending a writing conference, I resolved that I had to learn to rewrite, and to make it as good as I possibly could even if I could not make it publishable. That I did mostly during a five-week house swap near Sidney, Australia, shortly after I’d broken a foot and had surgery – the perfect time to learn to rewrite!

How does Tracy evolve?
I like to think that she evolves as a human, as a friend, as a woman. She has somewhat cloistered herself in her comfortable life in a very small town, keeping most people at arms’ length. When the book opens she doesn’t quite comprehend (or perhaps admit) what she is missing in life.

What does Paul represent in the novel and for Tracy? And why the relationship between Tracy and Philippe doesn’t evolve like every reader would have expected?
Paul clearly awakens a maternal urge within Tracy, and I think he teaches her unselfless love. She would take risks and do things for Paul that she never would have done for herself, and she grows a lot in the process.
I didn’t see that the relationship between Tracy and Philippe could have evolved any other way, because of Paul and because of other issues. (But there is a sequel, with both Paul and Philippe!)

Talking about you:

What does it mean for you being a writer?
In a way, it’s all I know. I have been writing to one degree or another since I first learned to form words on paper. It is both self-expression and a way to reach other people.

What's the best thing about being a writer? What's the worst thing?
Writing itself is both the best and worst thing! When it’s going well, it’s the best; and when not, it’s the worst. I think for many writers, there is a point where your novel begins to seem so extraordinarily awful that it will please no one.

Any advice for whom would like to follow your example?
Read a lot of books. Write and don’t look back – at least not at first. Then make yourself learn to revise, over and over again if needed. Learn to digest criticism, and to judge which is valid and which is not. (Often people can tell if something is wrong with a chapter or section, but cannot actually tell you what it is. You have to learn to interpret their reactions.)

Which were the challenges you faced in publishing this book?
The worst that happened was that my publisher was dissolved before the book came out, so I was shifted to another imprint. But that was minor compared to problems some writers have had! Publishing has been undergoing many changes the last several years.

One project for the future
The second novel in this series, A COLD AND LONELY PLACE, just came out in paperback in the U.S., and I’m currently writing the third, tentatively titled A QUIET SORT OF HERO.
Tag:  Learning to swim, Sara J. Henry, Tutto quello che facciamo per amore, interview

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