Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Theresa. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, focusing on poetry as a kid. I took some writing classes in college, but those were mostly geared toward my profession – nursing. A few years back, I wrote a couple of the chapters for this first book but never had time to fully develop the novel, coming back to it once I retired. I love connecting with people through the written word, allowing peoples to envision the story using their own imaginations.
Please share with us, one book that you recently read that you think readers of this blog might enjoy.
I recently read “The Glass Castle,” a memoir by Jeannette Walls. I picked it up based on the recommendation of a friend who knew about my own book. It’s a book that’s hard to enjoy, exactly, because of the very, very difficult (almost impossibly difficult!) life that young Jeannette and her siblings had to endure. However, the writing is beautiful, and I think Jeannette tries to help the reader understand that no matter how hard her life was, her life turned out to be exactly what it was supposed to be. I recommend it without reservation, but it may not be for the tender-hearted because of what the children are subjected to.
Tell us a little about your book, An Extraordinary Year.
Though it is a book largely about kids, it is not really for kids. I would say An Extraordinary Year is a light-hearted book for “kids of a certain age,” and Baby Boomers will get all the references. It’s a highly-fictionalized memory of my own life and my brothers’ lives in 1963.
John Reed is a ten-year-old who lives in a small northwest Ohio town with his mother, father, and younger brother. John begins 1963 with a revelation that the year will be quite extraordinary, and indeed, each new month brings significant events that John must cope with, learn from, and assimilate into his understanding of life. John learns that not everything that happens in life is good, but that life unfolds as it will.
Through various trials and tribulations of others he cares about, John learns the importance of human dignity, human connection, and respect, not just for people, but also for the natural world. The story is told plainly from his ten-year-old perspective. John’s year, from beginning to end, is full of important events and small moments that deepen his love of his family, as well as his town and its inhabitants. For John, the miraculous and the mundane have equal impact on his experience of 1963.
If you could share lunch with any two authors, who would you choose, where would you dine, and what would you hope to discuss?
You didn’t specify dead or alive, so first, I’d invite Ray Bradbury. My favorite book in the world is Dandelion Wine, and anyone who knows me is aware that An Extraordinary Year is a bit of an homage to Bradbury’s beautiful book. My writing style is completely different from Bradbury’s, but I like to think he would understand his influence on my own story telling. I’d love to ask him about how he develops the lovely, lyrical descriptions he writes in Dandelion Wine.
I think the second author I would invite to lunch might be John Irving. I’m a long-time fan and have read almost every one of his works. He tells stories within stories, a skill that is amazing to me. He understands the human condition and sees irony and humor in all the goofy things we human beings get ourselves cooked into. I don’t know that I’d have any particular questions for Irving, but I sure think he’d be a fun guy to share a meal with.
I’d probably ask both of these great writers to join me at Mancy’s, a family-owned steakhouse that is renowned throughout the Toledo area.
Do you have any other books in process right now?
Yes. I just finished a second book called Ragged Road. It is the story of a wealthy, dysfunctional family in North Carolina in 1968, and what happens when their teenage daughter becomes pregnant by a middle-class teenage boy. Prior to the 1970s, young women and young men had fewer options than they do now. Family secrets lead to tragedy in this tale. It’s a far cry from An Extraordinary Year - there’s nothing light-hearted about this one. I’m also starting to develop the ideas I have for three additional books. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but when it’s fun, it’s not really work, I guess.
What events might you have coming up?
One small book signing at a local hospital happens on April 26…I’ll be in the Gift Shop at St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee, Ohio from 11:30 – 1:30 signing copies of An Extraordinary Year.
I’m happy to share that I’ll be participating in Independent Bookstore Day on April 29 from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. This is taking place at Gathering VolumesBookstore, which is located at 196 East South Boundary in Perrysburg, Ohio. The owner of Gathering Volumes, Denise Phillips, is dedicated to bringing out the best local talent – and not just authors! It’s very exciting to be involved with people who are supportive of local writers, musicians, dancers and artists. I have now met many other local authors because of this event, a real serendipity for me. We’re all very different from each other, but we all share the same passion for writing.
Finally, on July 20, 2017, I’ll be appearing with other local authors at the Findlay-Hancock County Library located at 206 Broadway in Findlay, Ohio. We’ll be at the library from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. I must admit, this is particularly exciting to me because this is my home turf – the area where An Extraordinary Year was lived out. I’m hoping to see lots of old friends that night.
As we’re closing in on the end of the interview, Theresa, is there anything else you’d like to add or share?
Only that I appreciate the opportunity to tell your readers a bit about myself and what I’m doing because they are the very people who help keep local talent alive through their interest and support.
Where Theresa’s Book can be Obtained:
Where you can find out more about Theresa and her Writing:
On Twitter - @TLKonwinski