05 May 2014
Author Interview: Jo Barney author of UPRUSH
D.O: Welcome back to Authors Curtilage book dialogue, Jo Barney. It's good to blog another interview on your book.
J.B: And it’s good to be back with you, Lola.
D.O: When this book story first came to mind sometime ago, do you have an idea it will grow into a full story you'll be publishing as a book today?
J.B: I have four long time good friends. Their stories, fictionalized , of course fascinated me, the idea that our lives, so well-dreamed at graduation from college would turn out so differently than any of us imagined.
D.O: UPRUSH. What event in the story gave birth to this catchy title?
J.B: The book was first published as an ebook entitled The Solarium. When you searched for it, you ended up in gardening sites or architectural webpages. So when I got the courage to format and design this book, I realized that the Pacific Ocean was a major character in the story. I looked up maritime terms and when I came to UPRUSH, I realized I had found not only a title but the state each of these women, at the edge of a wave.
D.O: What got you to write contemporary women's book?
J.B: I've always written about contemporary women. Even my thriller, Graffiti Grandma, was about a woman who found she could change her street and her life, as well as the lives of others.
D.O: What are the cultures from around the world that you explored in UPRUSH?
J.B: Well, there’s the San Francisco culture, the eastern Oregon culture, the mountain culture, the beach life, and the free-flowing culture of a woman in love with a priest. All these cultures are West Coast America.
D.O: In the story UPRUSH, four old friends meet at a beach house for their usual coming together to drink wine, complain about husbands, or the lack of them. Can we meet this friends briefly?
J.B: We meet them intimately through the four novellas Madge, the writer, gives to her friends, and she then reads aloud to them when she explains her need for their help.
D.O: Madge, a writer, asks the other three friends to help her commit suicide. And she has good reason. What good reason could this lady writer have to want to end her dear life? Can you hint us a little or do you want the writers to find out themselves?
J.B: I suspect we all may arrive at a place at some point in our lives when going on seems impossible. For most of us, going on meant we found a new route, but for Madge, there was no new route. The readers will figure it out, possibly in tears because they have known someone like Madge.
D.O: "Madge has a gift for them, no matter what: her take on their lives over the past forty-something years, her last novel, stories which will change their futures" what are you trying to tell the readers here?
J.B: The theme of this novel seems to center not so much on Madge, but that women in their sixties (or older) are still in charge of their lives. They have decisions to make, new paths to follow, new dreams to dream. A message to women whose mothers may not have known this.
D.O: What proven writing techniques did you use to create memorable, characters that are psychologically rich, in the story UPRUSH?
J.B: Each of my characters is based on a woman I knew a long time ago and who I still know. One is quiet, intellectual, one is a risk taker, one has dreams of a different life, and Madge, the writer, is a lot like me, only more sell-known. I mined what I knew of these women, gave them mostly fictional lives, and when I wondered what each of them would do in an imagined setting, the real woman showed up. My friends, by the way, have all read UPRUSH and gave me the nod to go for it.
D.O: Your potential readers will like to read sample dialogue from UPRUSH, which captures characters' unique voices and emotional depth. I'm sure your old readers will like the same.
J.B: Okay here we go.
The three women left Madge and walked for a mile or so without speaking. The tide was coming in and at first, they concentrated on finding footing on smooth rocks being lapped by wavelets.
Then Lou stopped and looked out into the gray, unfolding ocean and said, “I’m in.”
Jackie couldn’t believe it. “What?”
And Lou repeated herself, not looking at them, calling into the muffled roar.
“Dammit! I’m in. I owe it to her.” Then she covered her eyes with her hands and swayed, her knees sinking.
Joan stepped to her side. “Good.”
The two of them wrapped nylon-clad arms around each other and buried their faces in each other’s collars. Jackie didn’t get it. Why in? What did they owe Madge? They were friends, of course, but friends don’t kill each other, did they? They might stand by a friend in trouble, sympathize, rub a little almond oil on the sore spots, so to speak, but . . . It was the almond oil thought that made her hesitate for a moment.
Then she knew. “I can’t help someone to die,” she said as she pushed through the cobweb of doubt that for a moment had clouded her resolve. “It isn’t right, you know. Not right.”
Her argument had nothing to do with Xavier’s religious view of suicide. It was about the way life just is. Life begins and it ends without our control. That is the way it has always been.
“What if Madge was your sister or mother? Would you be able to do it, whatever the ‘it’ is?” Joan and Lou loosened their holds on each other and turned towards Jackie, their cheeks red with cold and tears.
Lou’s lips barely moved as she whispered, “I have no sister. My mother died as she wished, in the arms of her God. Madge is a friend asking for help. I want to help her.”
“Migod, isn’t there another way to help? Like making her see that being surrounded by people who love her is the best way to go? For everyone? Or couldn’t she do Death with Dignity or something, like I’ve read about? Xavier calls it playing God, but Madge doesn’t have any religious reason for not asking her doctor to help, does she?”
Joan shook her head, looked away. “Doesn’t work that way. You need a deadline, a diagnosis of imminent death to schedule your death like that. Madge could live for years.”
Jackie blinked against the sudden sting in her eyes, and she understood she was not talking only about Madge. She was also talking about a stolen man with no deadline, an empty room, a ragged wound where she had once felt his love as she had changed his diapers, as he said, “Thank you, Mother.” She walked away from the two women, against the wind, her shoes sinking into the wet sand, filling with icy ocean.D.O: Are the scenes in the UPRUSH story sculpted scenes which audiences will never forget and, how so?
J.B: The opening scene behind the point is one I hope is vivid and is repeated from a different viewpoint later; several scenes of the women in front of the fire, and the scene when Lou goes out to hide the rental car and then goes back to retrieve it are scenes which seem quite alive to me.
D.O: Okay. Are the UPRUSH plots the riveting plots which are tightly tied to the emotional growth of your character and, how so?
J.B: My characters have grown a lot by the time they meet at the beach house, forty--some years after graduating from college. They don’t quite realize that they haven’t stopped growing.
D.O: UPRUSH is a contemporary women's book, but not lady literature; the characters are more like hens with a philosophical, ethical situation to solve.
J.B: Chicklit, an American term, is where the term henlit may come forn, at least in my own mind. Millions of women in this world aren’t chicks (or ladies); who have moved on to the concerns of a women even beyond a “woman of a certain age,” whatever that used to mean, Henlit.
D.O: It is generally believed that if women wait for too long, they are likely to get stranded. But despite the societal pressures to get married, some women would rather die than settle in with a man? What do you think is the source of the unwed female predicaments and, the cause for their decisions to remain unmarried?
J.B: For most women in their sixties being unwed is not a predicament. It is reality. Really, would you be interested, except for security maybe, in a man who needs a caretaker, housekeeper, diaper manager? In my story, Jackie says “Yes,” The other women would probably turn away, even if it meant she could be married. Most of the women I know in their sixties and seventies, while lonely at times, have found that their woman friends fill in that void.
D.O: Why do you think some married despite their status, are still lonely in their bodies, souls & hearts?
J.B: Loneliness is a basic human condition. A condition that comes in up no matter what.
D.O: Do you have any advise for women both wedded and on unwed?
J.B: Wedded or unwed, you are still you. Find out who that you is.
D.O: What do you want readers to see in your book?
J.B: No matter what our age, we still have control of our lives in the matters that count.
D.O: Thank you for joining us today, Jo Barney.
J.B: This has been interesting for me to re-think my premise.
D.O: I'm glad the interview holds help. Good luck with UPRUSH.
J.B: Thank you.
Released Date: May, 20,2014
Ebook ISBN: 1496004361
Publisher: Encore Press
Available in Print and Ebook