TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe.
Give us your elevator pitch: what’s your book about in 2-3 sentences?
Hedge is about a woman trying to pursue her own passions and happiness while being a good mother to her children. Maud is a landscape historian who leaves her marriage in California for a project on a Hudson Valley estate, where she finds new love that’s quickly uprooted by her daughter’s secret struggles.
Which character did you most enjoy creating? Why? And, which character gave you the most trouble, and why?
In the second part of Hedge, Maud returns home to Marin and begins restoring a garden at the Presidio of San Francisco. The project’s donor is a reclusive artist named Alice, who has left her former life behind and lives in isolation on the Pacific Coast. She’s both tough and vulnerable and deeply connected to the wild landscape. I loved spending time with her, learning about her past and why she left it behind. A harder character to write was Maud’s husband, Peter, because he’s the easy antagonist in the first part of the book and I needed to find my own understanding of his behavior.
Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.
My first book, THE BALCONY, a novel-in-stories, came out with Little, Brown and I had a wonderful editor. But it became clear early on that Hedge wasn’t a good match for her, so we parted ways. It was painful! Around the same time, the brilliant Leigh Newman contacted my agent, looking for novel manuscripts for a new publishing venture. (I’d worked with Leigh before when she edited one of my essays.) Leigh connected with Hedge and had a vision for editing it, and I felt the universe was telling me: Jump! So I did, and I’m so glad, because this led me to Zibby Books, which has been a great home.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
Don’t forget why you write in the first place and make sure you nurture that reason no matter what happens with the work when it’s out of your hands. We spend so many hours of our life on the page. Make those hours matter.
My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?
Maud’s elder daughter, Ella, is keeping a secret in the first part of the book. When I understood what was going on with her, I was shocked, as if someone else had written it!
How did you find the title of your book?
The first draft of Hedge took place at Monticello. (Eventually, I needed to dump Thomas Jefferson.) When the Monticello gardens were restored, a hedge was grown to conceal Mulberry Row from the house, hiding the reminder of enslavement on the mountain. That draft of Hedge was quite different from the final book, but when I moved the novel to New York, I brought the hedge with me!
Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might share?)
Maud and her daughters are living near an orchard in the Hudson Valley and they spend an afternoon making jam and pie. Here’s a great cherry pie recipe from the New York Times!
READ MORE ABOUT THIS PUBLISHER: https://www.zibbybooks.com
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