Blog Tour – Author Interview: In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long

Welcome to Author Terri Guiliano Long

Terri Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the novel In Leah’s Wake. Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her free time, she enjoys walking, traveling, and listening to music. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook. In an alternate reality, she might be an international food writer. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah’s Wake is her debut novel.

LINKS:

Website: www.tglong.com

INTERVIEW:
What is one book everyone should read?
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. This powerful novel transports us to a harsh post-apocalyptic world, where humans have been reduced to animal instinct—for the inhabitants of this world, murder and cannibalism are a means of survival.

In this unforgiving environment, McCarthy gives us a tender, elegantly rendered father and son. In their travels, the man and his son meet horrific challenges and hardships, yet they face each challenge with dignity and grace. Near death, the man says to his son: “You have my whole heart. You always did.” Years after reading the novel, the love of this father and son—their amazing bond—awes and inspires me.

This stunning work ends unexpectedly, with a promise of rebirth and renewal.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Almond Joy. In my novel, In Leah’s Wake, there’s an ice cream stand called Sullivan Farms, run by Bob Sullivan. Bob is a real person. Sullivan Farms Ice Cream is located in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. Bob’s homemade Almond Joy ice cream is to die for.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
Jesus. Growing up Catholic, I don’t think I fully appreciated the historical Jesus. A few years ago, considering a PhD in theology, I took two grad courses. The critical analyses fascinated me—literary, historical, archeological, feminist, etc.—and I realized how relevant the readings continue to be. From a humanist perspective, Jesus was a brilliant man with a tremendous capacity for love and forgiveness. He loved, trusted and forgave even those who didn’t deserve love, trust or forgiveness, and he forgave out of strength, not weakness. I’d love the chance to learn from him.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
If I could eat anything at all without gaining weight, I’d start each day with a stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup. In the real world, I typically go for a low-ish fat protein. In San Francisco, Dave and I enjoyed a wonderful egg white omelet with broccoli, arugula, leeks and goat cheese. That’s now my favorite breakfast treat.

Night owl, or early bird?
I was an early bird for most of my life. Lately, because I tend to over-commit and am usually behind in my work, I’ve turned into a night owl. I also hate to miss anything.

Pet Peeves?
Selfishness and entitlement bother me. We share one world with limited resources. Circumstances sometimes require privileging certain people – for instance, in a health emergency medical personnel must be first to receive medical attention so they can care for the rest of us. In everyday life, there is no excuse for pushing and shoving. We’re all in a hurry. We all want what we want. That doesn’t give us the right to cut the line or demand special treatment. In a piece called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” Robert Fulghum writes that he learned, among other things, to: “share everything; play fair; don’t hit people; put things back where you found them; clean up your own mess; don’t take things that aren’t yours; say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.” There is a lot of wisdom in those lessons.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
In Leah’s Wake, about a family in transition, tells a topical story that people relate to, but it’s also about the need for community and connection and, although sometimes sad, offers hope and redemption.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’m currently at work on a psychological thriller with a historical twist. Nowhere to Run takes place in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire.

After the brutal unsolved murder of her six-year-old daughter, award-winning writer Abby Minot had put her laptop away. A year later, emerging from a deep depression, she accepts her first assignment, a human-interest story on the wealthy and powerful Chase clan, the immediate family of Matthias Chase—a wildly popular congressman from northern New Hampshire.

Congressman Chase—a self-described “new Republican,” fiscally conservative, socially just—has built his platform on unsubstantiated claims that his ancestors were abolitionists. When a subterranean chamber is discovered under a barn on the family property, the Chase estate is declared an official stop on the Underground Railroad. Soon after, Chase launches a campaign for the presidency.

After accepting the assignment, Abby and her two surviving children travel to the Chase estate in the White Mountains for a month-long stay. In her initial research, she glimpses darkness under the shiny veneer. Digging deeper, she uncovers a shocking web of lies and betrayal, dating back to the nineteenth century. Abby soon finds herself trapped-between an editor obsessed with uncovering the truth and the town and family who will stop at nothing to ensure it stays hidden.

The book is set to launch on September 15, 2012.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

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– not even my parents knew 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 that if I didn’t do something my book would die. In early March, I began blogging and activated my Twitter account.

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 close to 100,000 books. Getting there took a lot of hard work and dedication, and I’m proud of that accomplishment. 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 hard and it took time to figure it all out. But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve also had the great good fortune of meeting many wonderful people!

What is your dream cast for your book?
Will Tyler – Matt Damon. Mr. Damon exudes fatherly love and protectiveness and he’s very intense. If his daughter were in trouble, I can picture him going into overdrive, like Will, and doing whatever it takes to pull her back.

Zoe Tyler – Sandra Bullock. I see her as loving, driven and ditzy, a less strident version of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the mom she played in The Blind Side.

Leah Tyler – For the role of Leah, I’d search for new talent. Caroline Wakefield, as played by Erika Christensen in the film Traffic, reminded me of Leah, in her all-American beauty and stunning transformation from preppy to drug-addicted prostitute. Ms. Christensen is too old for this role, but she’d be the prototype.

Justine Tyler – Abigail Breslin. Like Justine, she’s sweet and dorky and cute. She’s also precocious and strong.

Jerry Johnson – Vince Vaughn. He’s not the guy who walks into a room and gets the girl, but he’s centered and responsible, the rock for the others to lean on.

Todd Corbett (Leah’s boyfriend) – Jordan Masek. Jordan plays the role of Todd in my trailer. In real life, Jordan is actually a very sweet guy. But he knows how to channel his inner bad boy. I can’t imagine a more appropriately cast Todd.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Believe in yourself. To deal with rejection, boot your computer, day after day, when it seems as if no one cares and you wonder if maybe the stars are misaligned, you have to believe in yourself.

Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re alone with our work. That loneliness can wear on you and cause you to question yourself. Cherish your friendships. A community of supportive writer friends can encourage and sustain you when your confidence flags.

Keep the faith. Don’t ever give up. You can make your dreams happen!

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Whenever we travel at some point in the trip I think, wouldn’t it be great to live here. But there really is no place like home. Dave and I have four daughters. Right now, our children are spread across the country—in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, and California—fulfilling their own journeys. When everyone is settled or finished with school, I hope to live near or within a reasonable drive of all our children. That’s my dream home.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
I once had an idea for a novel about a woman who marries a dog. The idea grew out of an article I’d read, so it wasn’t quite as bizarre as it seems. Or maybe it was. Obviously it never went anywhere.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Be grateful and appreciate others. At the end of the day, the people in our life are all we have. No one ever dies wishing she’d worked longer hours or made more money or sold more books. It’s tough, because our culture values things over people and rewards monetary success. It’s important to remember that, in fact, we’ve got it backward. People – our friends, our family, our community – are our most valuable and precious assets. It’s far easier to recognize this and appreciate others if we’re grateful for what we have and all we’ve been given.

What do you do in your free time?
Hands down, my favorite activity is spending time with my family. I also enjoy walking and hiking, and I’m a passionate traveller and foodie. Dave and I have had the good fortune of visiting many interesting places over the years. For most of my life, I dreamed of travelling to China. It’s hard to describe the wonder of the Great Wall. From the towers, you see the wall continuing into the horizon. It’s positively breathtaking. I was awed by the power of humankind. I’ve felt this way in many places, inspired by the perseverance, creativity and ingenuity of people, awed by the beauty of the mountains, the valleys, the sun setting over the water.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
There’s a book already – called The Little Engine That Could. In Leah’s Wake is a quiet literary novel. When I first began marketing, a former agent told me she’d found the book boring and assured me that I’d never sell 1000 copies (my goal at the time). I was so distraught; had I not been in the midst of a blog tour, I might have packed up my book and gone home. The bloggers had been gracious enough to read my novel and host me on their blog, so I felt I owed it to them to soldier on. There were many days when I questioned myself, wondering why I’d published the book. Those four words, I think I can, drove me on. If you think you can—accomplish whatever your goal—you’re right. You truly can!

What’s your favorite season/weather?
I’m partial to spring, though on a bright sunny day, any season feels perfect. I’ve spent much of my life in the Boston area and currently live in Vermont. There is nothing quite as stunning as a clear fall day in New England, with the warm sun and colorful leaves. But in spring, as the days get longer, I feel hopeful and alive.

Who or what inspired you to become an author?
When I was a child, my mom read to us every day. Her reading instilled and nurtured a love of reading and stories. As a young child, I entertained myself by making up stories and plays. In high school, I worked as a stringer for the town paper – my first paid writing job – and I loved every minute. They paid me ten cents a word. Soon I was offered a column, called “High School News.” I wrote about anything that occurred to me or that I considered interesting, really. People actually read the column. That was exciting – and it launched my writing career.

When my children were young, I wrote news and feature articles for a local and regional paper, edited technical articles for trade magazines, and wrote marketing and web copy. In the nineties, I turned my attention to writing fiction. Early on, I published several short stories in lit magazines. In Leah’s Wake is my first novel. Nowhere to Run will be my second full-length work of fiction.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a closet nerd. To the world, I appear cool and relaxed, but I’m actually very shy. Before a public appearance, I’m anxious for days and it takes me forever to decide what to wear. I’m also a choc-o-holic and a shoe whore.

Thank you so very much for having me, Kathy. I appreciate your kindness and I’m grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers.
Readers, thank you so very much for giving me the invaluable gift of your time.

In Leah’s Wake

The Tylers have the perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. While their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, 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 everything goes wrong.

Will this family survive in Leah’s Wake? What happens when love just isn’t enough?

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