Friday, March 20, 2015

Interview with Jo Barney, a renowned author. The spotlight is on her latest book, Edith. #WomenFiction #Mystery

edith banner
By Jo Barney
Genre: Women’s Lit

Edith Finlay has lived the unfinished life of any number of women in their sixties. The question she and they ask isn’t, “Is this all there is?” It’s more like, “Where did drop the reins?” In fact when Edith wakes to find her husband of forty-seven years lying dead next to her, her first concern is the Christmas strata she’s to bake in an hour or so.
Art’s death offers Edith one last chance at taking control of her life. Scraps oin Art’s pockets send her on a search for answers to his secrets. She discovers a lover, maybe, a prostitute, sometimes, and her son, a man of secrets also. She also finds herself, the real Edith.

Author Bio:
After graduating from Willamette University, Jo spent the most of next thirty years teaching, counseling, mothering, wifing and of course, writing.
Her writing first appeared in small literary magazines and professional publications. Since retirement, she has had time to write four novels and two screenplays. The first book used her teaching life as inspiration and served as a way to leave a profession she loved. The second story focused on her then-prodigal son, the hockey player. She’s quite sure he is relieved that it has not yet been published. Her third novel, Uprush, is an intimate, almost true, story of four middle-aged women lot like her own long-time friends. Graffiti Grandma examines the life of an elderly woman and the underworld of the homeless. Her next book, tells of Edith who wakes up one morning to find she is a widow.
Her stories and essays, as well as the novels, reflect her observations of women’s lives and the people who inhabit them: the children, husbands, parents, friends, strangers who happen by and change everything.
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EDITH:  interview questions:

1.Where did the idea come from for the book?

My books usually begin with a What If? situation.  When I was thinking of writing third  novel about an older woman, I wondered what would a woman like Edith, crotchety, disappointed, out of love, do if she woke up to find her husband had died  without warning during the night?  While this question had made its way into a few of my own private what-ifs, Edith, the woman she was becoming in my imagination, has a very different reaction to what I suspect mine would be.  She worries about her strata scheduled for brunch in a few hours.

2.What genre does Edith fall in?

It is a woman’s book, I think, although several men have told me they enjoyed it.  It is a book that appeals to women who are contemplating their own aging process. Henlit rather than chicklit. It also contains a mystery as Edith seeks answers to her dead husband’s secrets.

3.Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

Edith could be played by Frances McDormand or Patricia Clarkson
J. K. Simmons would be perfect as Art. Kathleen could be played by any forty-ish, good-looking woman who doesn’t like crying but does anyway.

4.One sentence synopsis:
Edith arrives at a disappointing old age and discovers in the pockets of her dead husband a new self and a vibrant flicker of joy.

5.How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript:  Several months.

6.What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?

I thought about getting old, and the fact that nothing can be done about it.  Then I understood, through Edith and the older women of my two other novels, that aging doesn’t have to mean the end of hope, love, and control of one’s life.  This is the subtle theme of my latest novels and I try to live by it.

7.What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’ve discovered there aren’t many novels by women about growing old—as opposed to books about old men becoming geezers.  Multiple books by Wallace Stegner, John Updike, J.M. Coetzee still call for a second read from my bookshelf. Elizabeth Strout, May Sarton, Penelope Lively are there also, but I have to look hard to find them, their stories somehow overwhelmed by the masculinity of their companions on all sides of them. I do find other women writers on the shelves, but their novels reflect my interests as a younger woman, when I was writing about and dealing with younger situations:  marriage, divorce, recalcitrant children, careers. Chicklit they used to call it.  I’m now more interested in what I call Henlit.  I just finished Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel.  I would like to have written it, so succinctly does it capture the confusion of an old woman who believes she has one more chance to escape the inevitable.

8.Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I am inspired by the what-if’s about growing old that pop up in the black of a sleepless night, along with wondering if I’ve missed yet another grandchild’s birthday, or whether I’ve left the oven on, or whether it is time for my husband and me to visit the mortuary to make arrangements so that our children will not have to deal with them. One night I worried about what I would l do if the man snoring softly next to me stopped breathing. When I got up, I had the beginning of a story.
9.What else might pique the readers interest?

The relationship between Edith and her daughter-in-law, almost non-existent at first until they became partners seeking answers to their husbands’ wanderings, each coming home smelling of oranges.  The comfort a rescue dog brings to a woman in the process of rescuing herself.  And readers, if they haven’t already tried it, might want to look for a shop offering bubble tea. They should go with a good friend and enjoy a laugh as the huge bubbles make their slippery ways into their throats. I like the mocha flavor.

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