Friday, July 16, 2010
Q and A with Mindy Friddle, Author of Secret Keepers
Would you give us a brief description of Secret Keepers?
The novel is about a group of characters who are stuck--in a town, in marriages, in estranged relationships with their children and parents, in past mistakes, mired in memories--and how they try to move on. As I mention on my website, The Story Behind Secret Keepers, I started writing SECRET KEEPERS after imagining Emma Hanley gazing at a family portrait, stuck in her hometown. Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, she yearns to leave. Just when it looks like she might get her wish, her husband heads off to his morning coffee klatch with a gaggle of adoring widow women, and Emma’s dream of travel is stymied. Again. And then she has her hands full juggling the demands of her adult children. A motley group of gardeners, the Blooming Idiots, complicate matters when they unearth some strange botanicals and the Hanley family’s secrets. Nature, it turns out, is a major character in SECRET KEEPERS. But I hope the reader finds that in the course of the novel -- through regret, broken hearts, and grief -- humor winds like a flowering vine.
Do you have a favorite line from the novel?
"For what was marriage but a treaty between two warring little nations, a congress of conflicting desires and wills?"
I know that line by heart. When I've read SECRET KEEPERS to a group, that's the line that gets the guffaws. The women especially. Hmmm.
Did you face any special challenges in the writing of Secret Keepers?
Just the usual "What am I doing trying to write a novel? Am I crazy?" thoughts. SECRET KEEPERS was my second novel. I'd written a novel before [and I told myself that a lot]. Sophomore novels have experience going for them. But they also present a special challenge--you have more expectations of yourself. You know the risks that comes with publishing, book touring, and delivering a good read to all your readers. You have to be even more determined to focus on the work in front of you and turn off the doubts and the commercial noise.
What books are your nightstand right now?
I have an Ipad, so I'm reading a lot on that. In fact, I'm buying and reading even more books these days on my Ipad. Right now, I'm in the middle of Zoe Heller's latest novel, THE BELIEVERS. I recently finished the historical novel WOLF HALL by Hillary Mantel, a Booker prize winner, and THE THREE WEISSMANS OF WESTPORT by Cathleen Schine, a humorous modern day Jane Austen-like story about a woman in her seventies who draws close to her two daughters after her elderly husband asks for a divorce.
You do a lot of book clubs. Got a funny book club story to share?
I've observed that book clubs that serve wine seem to have a lot of fun.