Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pub Day, at last.

I'm really excited to announce that today is FINALLY pub day for HARRIET WOLF. 
19 years ago, I sat down with a couple outside of Chicago to interview them about a plane crash they'd witnessed -- a bolt of lightning hit a passenger plane over Elkton, Maryland. I knew about the crash because my Dad would take me to eat crabs at The Howard House as a kid, and they had framed the newspaper clipping and hung it up. The headline read DEAD FELL FROM SKY. Around this time, I somehow got my hands on an in-house publication about Sheppard Pratt, the famous (curative) mental institution in Baltimore. On p. 44, there was a mention of The Maryland School for Feeble Minded Children. On p. 45, I read about the murder of Dr. Wolff, killed by a visiting doctor from Japan, Dr. Ishida.
Over the next couple of years, I visited the grounds of the Maryland School for Feeble Minded Children, massive old asbestos-ridden buildings, long since condemned (in the Owings Mills area). I photocopied the 1911 report -- how hard those children were put to work; a portrait of their lives slowly emerged. I read all the news items about the murder trial.
I started publishing pieces of the novel fifteen years ago. And I stopped working on the novel many, many times. Abandoning it because I lacked the courage to keep at it. I've published over twenty books, but my relationship with literary fiction -- whatever that flimsy term might mean to anyone on a given day -- has been complex. About twelve years ago, I really stopped writing with that set of burdens and aspirations because I couldn't. I wrote my way around the term, created other identities in order to protect myself. I fell in love with other genres and audiences and ways of telling a story. I really found myself as a writer while trying on what I thought were masks.
HARRIET WOLF'S 7TH BOOK OF WONDERS is a return, in some ways, to what I first set out to do as a novelist. There are a number of reviews slated -- some of them biggies -- and I'm trying not to brace for them, to be honest. It's my job to be vulnerable as a novelist, not toughened. The way I actually protect myself is by being deep into another project when a book comes out and I am -- and it's one twisted, wild book that's not interested in any of the terms or definitions or maybe it's wearing all of them at once. I'm thankful, as ever, for the page. That's what sustains me.
So, today is pub day. I hope you buy the book; that's, quite simply, how literature survives. (If you don't buy my book this month, I hope you buy a book you love.) If you read this novel, I hope it burrows deep.

It'll be at the front table at BN, but here's the link:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/harriet-wolfs-s…/1120878228…