Michelle Hoover, author of The Quickening (July 19-26)

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Michelle Hoover, author of The Quickening (July 19-26)

1LibThingDan
jul 19, 2010, 10:31 am

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

2MichelleHoover
jul 19, 2010, 12:13 pm

Hi everyone. I love to meet readers and hear their comments and/or questions about the book or my process in writing it. Welcome to the chat!

3DevourerOfBooks
jul 19, 2010, 12:23 pm

The audiobook of The Quickening is going to be my next listen. Sadly I probably won't finish it before you leave here, but I'll be checking in to see what you have to say. Your book was added to my TBR list by Ann Kingman who talked about it on her podcast Books on the Nightstand.

I suppose I can start things off, even though I haven't had a chance to read it yet, what led you to this story?

4dchaikin
Redigerat: jul 19, 2010, 1:19 pm

Hi Michelle,

Thank you for holding this chat, I'm looking forward to following along. I recently read The Quickening (and will write a review soon).

My question - As you developed the Quickening, was it always told from Enidina's & Mary's voices, or were there earlier versions with only one narrator (or possibly something altogether different)?

ETA - The reason I'm asking is that the two characters were quite different in many aspects, not just personality. So, it made think that perhaps the story started from one character, with the second character added in later.

Regards,
Dan

5MichelleHoover
jul 19, 2010, 4:59 pm

I'm so curious what the audiobook experience will be like for people. I myself just got my copies of the cds today and am a little nervous to listen. Dan might let us extend this group another week if people are interested. He seems to have done so for other authors. If not, I also have a Q&A group on LibraryThing that will go until the beginning of September. Just search "Q&A with Michelle Hoover" in groups there.

But for your question: I started the book when I was in my early twenties (a while ago now). My mother had just given me a copy of my great-grandmother's journal. It was only 15 pages, but the story she told and the voice she told it with were mesmerizing. I found myself writing my own version, with my own character's voice and plenty of additions and alterations. That voice became Enidina, and she quickly grew into her own person. Still, the journal started it off.

6MichelleHoover
jul 19, 2010, 5:06 pm

So, yes, I started with Enidina, but Mary was a secondary character. Early readers told me that every time Mary entered the story, the tension and liveliness increased and they wanted more of her. So Mary eventually became the other side of the coin to Enidina. In early drafts, I tried to tell the story without Mary's side and the book just fell flat, so she stayed.

Still, the characters are certainly different, almost near opposites, though their voices at times blend a bit. They are both telling the story at the end of their lives and have lived in the same isolated place as close neighbors for almost forty years, so I thought the occasional similarities made sense.

7MichelleHoover
jul 19, 2010, 5:24 pm

By the way everybody (sorry for so many messages in a row!). There's a great new review of the book on Fiction Writers Review at www.fictionwritersreview.com. This really is an incredible review site, so I recommend checking it out for a lot more than the review of my book.

Also, anybody live in Montreal? Please patronize Argo Bookshop. They wrote a simply head-spinning review and if I lived closer, I'd take the whole place out for wine and lobster (or whatever is considered gourmet up there; I've sadly never visited). That review is at argobookshop.ca/2010/07/232.

Finally, there's my own website at www.michellehoover.net. You can find my great-grandmother's journal there, family photos, a youtube book trailer (I know; how crazy!), a list of events and a whole lot more.

8dchaikin
jul 19, 2010, 5:57 pm

Michelle, thank you!

I've been wondering, if I wrote the book, how would I handle Mary (I'm not a writer, but anyway...), so I'm absolutely fascinated in your experiences and experiments with her.

Also, I had no idea that Enidina was based on a real person, or at least a real journal. That gives me a new and quite different perspective on your book. She was already a memorable character on many levels.

I don't exactly have a question, but I would love to hear more about the relationship between Enidina and your great-grandmother. Perhaps someone else will have a better and more specific question.

9JessicaStalker
jul 19, 2010, 7:01 pm

I too love that Enidina was based on your great grandmother! How interesting!

I just finished the book a few days ago and I am really fascinated by the writing. It seems as though you wrote specific to the time period in that the writing was concise and quiet and almost curt. It totally contributed to the storyline and overall feel of the book - something only great writers can achieve. I really appreciate that.

Also, I'm wondering why you never gave Mary and Borden a conversation about Kyle until years later after Donny died. It seemed to me that it could have been interesting to hear from Borden about why he chose to sleep with Mary despite his priesthood.

10elbakerone
jul 19, 2010, 10:42 pm

Hi Michelle,
Along the same lines of what's been mentioned here, did you ever consider including parts of the narrative from any of the male perspectives?

lisa :)

11MichelleHoover
jul 20, 2010, 12:57 pm

Hey everybody,
Sorry for the delay in answering questions. My Verizon internet service decided to malfunction on Monday and is only back now. So now to your questions and comments!

I think quite a lot of Enidina's mindset and the whole mood of the book comes from my great-grandmother's journal. A woman who has just lost her husband of several decades will view her life in a very different life, and Enidina's own losses shadow her memories. Also, the climax of the book—what happens with the church—did happen to my great-grandparents, though the journal spends only a few sentences to describe it.

Actually, my publisher has had a hay-day with the journal connection. For myself, I want the book to survive on its own strengths, so I'm happy you found the character in the book alone "memorable on many levels."

I've actually heard from many readers that the book stayed with them many weeks after they finished it. This sort of comment is wonderful and dizzying, though I'm also curious about what constitutes that staying power, if anyone can articulate it.

Great question Jessica. Early readers wanted the full disclosure of what happens between Mary and Borden to be saved for the later pages, though I did still try to write an earlier conversation between them. I never could make it work, and I think I know why. For one, Borden is such a closed off, nervous, and inhibited man that he himself could never begin such a conversation but would prefer to simply ignore the truth, as he does. He also probably has no idea why he did what he did, save for simple loneliness and isolation, and the way Mary believes he is larger than life. I don't think Borden would be able to articulate any of this, though I tried to give the reader a good sense of it. He'd probably just mumble something and open up a book instead, cutting the conversation off (as he often does). Also, Borden isn't a priest, only a minister, so his church doesn't restrict sex or marriage. Still, the town would be horrified by his actions and he would lose his father's church altogether should the truth ever come to light.

Mary also is very repressed. For her, I believe she would feel that attempting an earlier conversation might scare Borden away permanently. She wants to hold some power over him and some attraction, and a conversation about the white elephant between them would destroy that balance. Mary needs to come to a desperate point, to understand that she has to talk to Borden, to threaten him, to get something she wants out of him, and that of course can't happen until much later in the story.

Another great question, Lisa! I'd have loved to. In the book I'm working on now, I have far more male voices and perspectives. However, throwing too many perspectives in the mix can jar your reader. Many publishers won't even look at such a story, so I was risking plenty with my two first-person narrators, but I also felt I couldn't drop either one.

12MichelleHoover
jul 20, 2010, 1:05 pm

Other online info!

Hey everybody, I just did an interview with Radio Iowa. You can listen at www.radioiowa.com/2010/07/19/great-grandmothers-journal-inspiration-for-iowa-natives-novel/

I've also got an original essay up on the Powell's site. If you're interested in Depression era voices from the Midwest, you might be intrigued. It's at: www.powells.com/blog/?p=20826

Finally, I have a new essay posted called "An Old Resilience: Writing and Familial Duty in Early 20th Century America." You can find it at www.hercircleezine.com/2010/07/20/an-old-resilience-writing-and-familial-duty-in-early-20th-century-america/

Thanks!

13MichelleHoover
jul 20, 2010, 1:11 pm

Upcoming BOOK TOUR

I'm flying out to Iowa on Friday and will be traveling the Midwest for two weeks. Here's my schedule. Would love to meet people in person if you're close by.

Ames, IA July 25; Iowa City July 26; Oskaloosa, IA July 27; Omaha July 28; Des Moines July 29; Minneapolis Aug 1; Winona, MN Aug 2; Madison Aug 3; Mequon, WI Aug 4; Oconomowoc, WI Aug 5; Chicago Aug 7; Wichita Aug 25. Go to www.michellehoover.net for more info. Thanks!

14countrylife
jul 20, 2010, 2:39 pm

I probably received your book well over a month ago, beginning my reading the very first night, and being swallowed up in it from page one. But my husband lost his job 57 days ago, and my every daylight moment has been filled with job search activities. Today was the first day I had a chance to write my review, after having read The Quickening so long ago. But so compelling was your story that it was still vibrant in my mind as I wrote.

The character nuance behind their actions; the sheer depth of the storyline, of which we read some of the outward happenings, yet 'see' it all. It was simply beautiful. I loved it!

Although I shan't have time to participate in your author chat, I just wanted to pop over here to say that I am now a huge fan of yours, and eagerly look forward to your next book.

Hope your book tour is a huge success!

15JessicaStalker
jul 20, 2010, 2:40 pm

Thanks for answering my question! And to answer yours...

For me, staying power is usually achieved with three things:
1) a storyline that is interesting and realistic
2) writing that sucks you in and makes you feel what the characters are feeling
3) a few questions left unanswered or unclear. I find that if I'm not quite satisfied with the story, I have a hard time forgetting it.

I just thought of another question about the story. Why did Adaline have to leave for good? I understand that Donny's passing and the fire were detrimental to her character and I suspect these are major reasons you will give. But Enidina was a such a great woman and wanted children for so long, it would have been very satisfying if the ending had included a fulfilling relationship with her daughter whilst Mary's was left alone.

16MerryMary
jul 20, 2010, 3:51 pm

I have read the journal (thanks to your site), and now am looking for your book. I plan to be in Omaha on the 28th, so I'm covered if I don't find it beforehand.

Since I've read the journal and not the book, I am intrigued (and SO curious) about the church incident. Can't wait to read.

17elbakerone
jul 20, 2010, 4:50 pm

#15 - I think you hit on some key points of the "stays with you" phenomenon. I might also add, a story where there is more to the characters' lives than just what is on the page. I think when there are places for the reader to fill in some blanks - especially in terms of what happens after the events in the book - a story will linger in my mind even more, and The Quickening definitely did that for me.

Also, not only was I left wondering the "what next" for the characters, I also felt myself pondering many of the angsty "what if" and "if only" questions for their lives. I kept finding myself thinking of situations where a different twist of fate would mean a different outcome and then creating alternate paths and lives for the characters in my head.

18MichelleHoover
jul 20, 2010, 8:38 pm

I agree. Enidina certainly would have been much happier if her daughter returned, but I don't think doing so would suit Adaline's psychology or experience. The farm is sold, her beloved father is gone (the parent she was closest to), there would be little for her in the small down, and I doubt Kyle would ever return with her to face his mother again, to be essentially owned by Mary. And though Adaline loved her own mother, she couldn't help but hold her in some way responsible for Donny, or at least to find fault with how she dealt with the event. Adaline had been wanting to escape for years, and she finally let herself leave. I don't think she could have faced her mother again, not even for a visit.

But in some ways Adaline does return, at least for Eddie. Eddie is so ill and in such a state in the present day of the book that she easily imagines her daughter's face and expressions in other people. The only way for Eddie to truly join up with Adaline again is for Eddie to find her daughter, to leave the farm. The ending in some way gives her that.

19MichelleHoover
jul 20, 2010, 8:39 pm

Sorry, the above was in reference to Jessica's point in #15. And Mary, I think you will find the church episode interesting. I'd love to hear from you after you read it. And it will be great to see you in Omaha!

20MichelleHoover
jul 20, 2010, 8:42 pm

#17 Interesting response, Lisa! Really wonderful to hear. Thank you!

21blackdogbooks
jul 21, 2010, 9:50 am

The Quickening, while standing very ably on its own for me, brought Grapes of Wrath to mind as I read. The connection in my mind was linked by much more than just the similar time settings. In my mind, your novel shared a common feel or aura with Steinbeck's. So it got me to wondering, was your novel influenced by reading any other authors or novels?

22dchaikin
jul 21, 2010, 11:49 am

Michelle, I'm hesitant to post this...crossing my fingers. As part of (another) response to "staying power" in post #11, is it OK for me to admit here that there were things I didn't like, or worse, that I was actually annoyed when I put the book down? The reason I want to mention that is because I was really surprised, afterward, that the book stuck with me. Why did it stick? I'm not completely sure. The subtleties, which there were many (and which I always miss most of) had something to do with it, and so did some of the surprises at the end. But, mainly, I think, there was just something compelling about Enidina. As a weird idea, in a way we're all Mary, especially today, in that we're too materialistic and disconnected from the ground around us and worried about the wrong things. Enidina corrects all that, she was deeply in touch with her place, (literally eating the earth as a child), and somehow, despite her flaws, it just felt like she held a truth, or something like that, in her somewhere...something worth thinking about.

23MichelleHoover
jul 21, 2010, 3:11 pm

#21
Probably Kent Haruf and Marilynne Robinson. They're really my favorites, but also their themes, their landscapes, resonate with me and what I'm trying to do. Some of the darkness of the book might come from my longtime obsession with Faulkner, and of course Virginia Woolf is the Queen. You might also want to look at William Gass' "In the Heart of the Heart of the Country", an amazing story collection. I wrote a review of that book at http://memoriousmag.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/forgotten-writers-michelle-hoover-o.... Let me know what you think!

24MichelleHoover
jul 21, 2010, 3:16 pm

#22 What an incredible reading of the characters! I may just share it with others (of course giving you credit for it). And yes, you can admit whatever you want! I often find that discussing the things readers bump their heads on in any book enlightens everyone's reading experience.

25blackdogbooks
jul 21, 2010, 3:42 pm

Kent Haruf is one of my newest favorites. I just happened on a collection of his short fiction recently. I look forward to reading your review of the Gass book; I've never heard of him.

26susiesharp
jul 21, 2010, 3:54 pm

Hi Michelle ,
I've been chatting with you elsewhere about how much I enjoyed your book and its Prairie Gothic Feel!
I found your website and your grandmothers journals so interesting thanks so much for sharing them.
I hope your book is doing well and that you will be publishing more!Look forward to reading whatever you write next!

27dchaikin
jul 21, 2010, 7:11 pm

Michelle, re #24, Thanks! I'm flattered...also a little relieved.

28dchaikin
aug 29, 2010, 11:03 pm

I finally completed and posted my review - here: http://www.librarything.com/review/61221088 (or on my reading log thread here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/90167#2167922 )

29MichelleHoover
sep 3, 2010, 7:11 am

Thanks Dan.