Today is the October meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as always by our favorite Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's also the day that many writers are posting contributions to the IWSG Anthology! I'm not contributing to the book but I will definitely look forward to reading all the entries.
My IWSG post is going to be very short as my insecurity this month is the same as it was last month - blogging. I had hoped to get back into a rhythm of some kind last month but ever since my mom was diagnosed with cancer my heart is simply not in it. We've had a lousy few weeks and my energy has gone out the window. I've been very lax about other social media as well but lately I find when I am not helping my mom I just want to spend time reading or engaging in other quiet activities that don't require much effort on my part.
I do have my novella The Turnagain Arm coming out next Monday, October 6, so I am happy about that and hope it will help me get some of my energy back. I'm excited to share the story and a related giveaway next week!
For now though I'm happy to be hosting Elizabeth Hein, who is here today talking about her new book How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. If you're not familiar with Elizabeth's blog Scribbling in the Storage Room I highly recommend checking it out.
Take it away, Elizabeth! :)
It’s a pleasure to be here on Julie Flanders’ blog today. When I sat down to write something for Julie’s blog, it seemed natural to talk about the sense of place within a novel. Julie’s books take you places like Martha’s Vineyard and Alaska and make you feel like you are there right alongside the characters.
My novels are set in the fictitious town of Magnuson, North Carolina. Magnuson is nowhere in particular, yet shares the features of several cities in North Carolina. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of visiting my adopted home state, North Carolina is unique. Just a few miles outside the cities that dot the interstates, life is still rural and rooted in tradition. In the cities, you’d find high-tech biomedical parks, cutting edge research hospitals, and banking hubs. It is a place where you can get a plate of barbecue cooked in a century old pit one day, then eat the trendiest of prix fixe meals the next.
Magnuson was the perfect place to set How To Climb The Eiffel Tower because I wanted Lara Blaine, the narrator of the story, to live in a place without a tremendous amount of history. Lara works in one of the many financial services companies and lives in one of the thousands of town houses that popped up in old tobacco fields during the last few decades. The city didn’t exist before the nearby river was dammed to provide electricity or the advent of highways. The handful of farming families were pushed out by the onslaught of newcomers that came to work in the new industries that grew in the state during the 60’s. Lara could disappear in the sea of people from somewhere else, yet still feel a sense of connection to the North Carolina that she remembered from her early childhood.
Magnuson is also the home of the Ellery Cancer Center which was based on Duke Cancer Center, where I was treated for cancer in 2002, with touches of the Carolina Medical Center and the Baptist Hospital. Ellery plays a large part in How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. The entire facility is color-coded with each department having its own color. The waiting rooms are all decorated in that color and the department staff all wear that color. The system is there to help patients find their way around the maze of hallways, yet it also makes Ellery feel impersonal and somewhat surreal. For instance, at one point Lara gets confused as to which way to go until she figures out that she needed to follow the colored tiles in the floor to get from department to department. I wanted the setting to reflect Lara’s sense of being detached from her illness yet completely surrounded by it.
Readers, how much do you notice a sense of place when you are reading? What are your favorite settings to read about? Fellow writers, do you think about setting before plot, or do you come up with your plots and then figure out where they will happen?
Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-imposed isolation until a cancer diagnosis cracks her hard exterior. Lara’s journey through cancer treatment should be the worst year of her life. Instead, it is the year that she learns how to live. She befriends Jane, another cancer patient who teaches her how to be powerful even in the face of death. Accepting help from the people around her allows Lara to confront the past and discover that she is not alone in the world. With the support of her new friends, Lara gains the courage to love and embrace life. Like climbing the Eiffel Tower, the year Lara meets Jane is tough, painful, and totally worth it.
Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. During her extensive treatment, she met dozens of other cancer patients and developed close relationships with several of them. These friendships were the inspiration for How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. She learned that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience, yet it does not necessarily change a life for the worse. Prior to the new book’s publication, Elizabeth was invited to attend the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) conference and has received excellent advanced reviews on her break-out new book.
Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her first novel, Overlook, spotlighted a housewife dealing with a cheating husband and the pressures of keeping up appearances. Elizabeth has published several short stories and is currently writing a novella and beginning to write a historical family saga about how love and identity effect four generations of women. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina.
Book Trailer - http://youtu.be/hHGNcjuRndQ
Buy links:Amazon UK