Thank you so much for hosting me, Lyn. It’s an honor to be here! Your generosity and support mean a lot to me. Thank you, readers, for giving me your time today!
1. First random question, If you could have any fictional character from your favorite book, spend the summer with you, who would it be and what would you do?
Unlike my title character, Leah Tyler, I have a special place in my heart for police officers. They risk their lives every day and they’re the connectors, the glue that holds communities together. I’ve always deeply admired Gail Mullen Beaudoin, a police sergeant in Chelmsford, MA. Gail brings strength, dignity and grace to a tremendously difficult job. Sara Paretsky’s private investigator, V.I. Warshawski, is a lot like Gail—smart, caring, tough. I’d love to spend the summer in Chicago with V.I., riding along with her, investigating crime.
I’m not sure that I have the courage to do Gail’s job or V.I.’s. I like to push myself, try things I haven’t done, so it would be an interesting challenge. At night, we’d go to V.I.’s favorite hangout and wind down with a glass of wine and great music.
2. What sort of research did you do before writing In Leah's Wake?
Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their struggles. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me. To get the emotional and psychological elements right, I often drew from those conversations.
I knew very little about drugs or drug use, so I spent a lot of time researching the various drugs. I called the police department in San Jose, where Leah’s boyfriend, Todd, was arrested for dealing cocaine, and interviewed a police officer to learn what would have happened. I also spent quite a bit of time researching runaway teens. I was surprised to learn that once a child has reached the legal age of adulthood (this varies), unless parents can prove their child is in danger, there is very little that can be done. Even if the parents know where their child is staying, they cannot force him or her to return home. There is no Amber Alert for missing teens, so if their teenager runs away it’s largely up to the parents to find her.
3. What do you find most rewarding about being an indie author?
When I published In Leah’s Wake, I had no clue as to what I was doing. Stupidly, too embarrassed to self-promote, I posted the book on Amazon and left it at that. I mean really left it at that– I didn’t even tell my parents I’d published the book!
I sold two copies in October, four in November, and thirty-four in December. By March, with sales lagging, I realized if I didn’t do something my book would die. I began blogging, activated my Twitter account, and became active on social media.
Once I got used to the idea that marketing didn’t have to mean shameless self-promotion, 24/7, I began to have fun and I actually enjoyed it. I’ve now sold over 110,000 books. Getting there took a lot of hard work and dedication, and I’m proud of that accomplishment. I realized that I’m tougher and more determined than I’d ever realized. Publishing In Leah’s Wake forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to learn to respect and value my work and share it with other people. It was tough and it took time to figure it all out. But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I
Because we’re accessible, indie writers tend to have direct contact with readers. Over the last year, I’ve met many wonderful people—readers, authors, and book bloggers. I’ve enjoyed talking with and learning from them. Meeting these people, making these connections has been the most rewarding aspect of being an indie.
4. If you could be fluent in any language, which one would you choose?
I studied French in high school and college. Although weak conversationally, I could read and write and I often even dreamed in French. I was in France for the first time a few years ago. Initially, the language overwhelmed me; the sounds all seemed to blend together. Within a few days, if people spoke slowly, I was able to understand much of what was said; the French people were kind enough not to laugh when I butchered their language. French is a gorgeous language. I wished very much that I could speak fluently, as a sign of respect if for no other reason, and promised myself that, as soon as we returned home, I’d buy a tape or begin taking classes. Life got in the way and, unfortunately, that never happened.
My grandparents are Italian. When I was growing up, my father and his family all spoke Italian. I learned a few basic words, but it would be wonderful to be fluent. I’d also like to be fluent in Mandarin. I’ve been to China twice; although I love the country and the rich culture, I felt very foreign. Not knowing the language prevented me from talking with most people we met, making it hard to connect.
5. Would you rather spend the day with Leah or Justine?
Justine is sweet and innocent and she cares deeply about her family. She’s also very responsible; although she comes across as babyish at times, in many ways she’s overly mature for her age. As a companion, she’d probably be a little boring.
While I don’t condone Leah’s behavior, I love her energy and her spirit. She’s right to hate the rat race, I think; most of the time, her heart is in the right place. Her friend Hope’s mother is crass, a bit rough around the edges, yet unlike her peers – unlike her own mother – Leah sees beyond this to the real person and admires her. Leah doesn’t want to be judged and she doesn’t judge others. I love this about her. When she’s most herself, she’s very loving. In the chapter “Sisters Redux,” she reluctantly shares a cigarette with Justine; when Justine coughs and nearly drops the burning butt, Leah reassures her; afterward, she teaches her sister to dance. Justine has two left feet and no sense of rhythm, and there’s Leah, all rhythm and light, dancing circles around her. Later in the book, Leah tries to talk Justine into joining a commune. To me, she’s an interesting person.
As long as she was sober, it would be a lot of fun to hang out with Leah.
6. Which four authors, dead or alive, would you invite over for dinner?
I’ve never been celebrity struck. If we build any human being to epic proportions, when we meet in person we’re often disappointed. I prefer to admire important people – and authors – from afar, reading their books, listening to their stories. Distance provides objectivity and perspective, which allows for greater insight.
Pressed, assuming the invitation would not inconvenience anyone, I’d invite:
Joan Didion – I love her work. The Year of Magical Thinking is a powerful book. I’d like to have coffee with her because she’s a brilliant, courageous woman, a pioneer, and she’s led a varied and interesting life. I’d love to hear her stories.
Cormac McCarthy - although I’m not a fan of his early work – too macho for me - he hooked me with No Country For Old Men. I enjoyed the novel so much that I taught it in one of my classes. The Road is the best novel I’ve ever read. The man says to his son: "You have my whole heart. You always did.” That line has stayed with me – as have so many stark, tender moments. I’m in awe of his brilliance.
Alice Hoffman – I enjoy her books and admire her ability to write a bestselling novel, year after year. To produce a book a year requires tremendous determination and discipline. You’ve got to be willing to sit down and write, whether you feel like it or not. That discipline helped her overcome breast cancer, after which she established the Hoffman Breast Center at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. She’s also written screenplays and children’s books. Friends tell me say she’s a wonderful, giving person.
Flannery O’Connor – like Cormac McCarthy, O’Connor wrote about real people, behaving badly, surviving in an imperfect world. Her work, infused with a deep sense of spirituality and humanity, influenced my writing as well as my thinking about story and character. She was reputed to be direct, maybe even crusty. It would be interesting to eavesdrop on a conversation between her and McCarthy.
Given the opportunity, I’d also love to ask all four authors for writing advice.
Terri Giuliano Long has written news and feature articles for numerous publications, including the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah’s Wake is her debut novel. For more information, please visit her website: www.tglong.com Or connect on Facebook, Twitter or Blog.
Book link: http://www.amazon.com/In-Leahs-Wake-ebook/dp/B0044XV7PG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335612669&sr=8-1
A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace
The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine, more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years, just wants her sister's approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly together kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life...until Leah meets Todd, a high school dropout and former roadie for a rock band.
As Leah's parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Justine observes her sister's rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family—leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.
Can this family survive in Leah's wake? What happens when love just isn't enough?
Margot Livesey, award-winning author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, calls In Leah's Wake, "A beautifully written and absorbing novel."
IndieReader Discovery Award, Literary Fiction, 2012
Reviewer-nominated for Global eBook Award, 2012
Coffee Time Romance Reviewer Recommend Award
Book Bundlz BookClub 2011 Favorites - First Place
Praise for In Leah’s Wake
“In Leah’s Wake is an astounding story of a family in transition.”
--Tracy Riva, Midwest Reviews
“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.”
--Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog
“Multiple ripples of meaning contribute to the overall intensity of this deeply moving psychological drama.”
--Cynthia Harrison, author of Sister Issues
"Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, and always tender."
-- Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author of Take One Candle Light A Room
MAJOR SALES LINKS
Amazon Paper: http://www.amazon.com/Leahs-Wake-Terri-Giuliano-Long/dp/1456310542/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318690782&sr=8-1
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
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