Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

December 2010 Book Discussion: The Wolves of Andover

If you didn't get a chance to join us when we talked with author Kathleen Kent in December be sure to listen to our discussion.  You can listen online (player located in the right column) or via iTunes.

Synopsis: In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Wolves of Andover confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of family from colonial history.

Book Discussion:
Kathleen's book recommendations: Cleopatra: a life (Schiff) and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (Summerscale)

In addition to the call, we are bringing back the online discussion for those unable to join us - or for anyone who has read the book and would like to participate.

Here are some questions to get the discussion started (answer any/all of them or simply leave a comment about your reading experience):

1. What was your overall view of the book? Did you enjoy it?

2. Kathleen explained to us that she is a descendant to Thomas Carrier, have you researched your family tree?  If yes, do you have any interesting stories to share?

3.  I know we are talking about The Wolves of Andover but we spent just as much time discussing The Heretic's Daughter on our call.  Have you read this book? Did you like it?  If not, have you been to Salem?  It's a haunting piece of American history.

And as I always end this post... what are you reading now?

Author Q&A:
Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in Texas and attended the University of Texas in Austin. I had always loved writing, but wasn't confident I could make a living at it, so I spent twenty years living and working in New York first in commodities and then as Chief Operating Officer for a US company doing defense conversion work in Russia for the Department of Defense. I travelled extensively through the Former Soviet Union, and greatly enjoyed the career I had built. But always, in the back of my mind, was the thought that someday I would write the book that became The Heretic's Daughter. In 2000 I moved with my husband and son back to Texas and, retiring early from my job, made the conscious decision to begin writing full time. Little did I know it would take 5 years to research and write, but I was fortunate enough to have the support of my family and to find my agent who got me the publishing deal at Little Brown.

What was it like getting your first novel published? What is your writing schedule like? The success of my first novel has been beyond my wildest expectations. The book is now published in over a dozen countries, including such exotic places as Turkey and Taiwan. While writing the book my only expectation was that I get published. I had no academic standing to gain easy entree into research library records and the most ambitious writing project I had ever undertaken was to write short stories and poems for my own pleasure. The things I did have were disciplined work habits, a passion to write, and some wonderful stories that my mother and grandmother had passed down to me about my nine times great grandmother, Martha Carrier. It was a wonderful time of exploration and I travelled to Connecticut and Massachusetts several times to get the feeling of the places that were important to the story. I still do most of my best writing in the morning, and try to write some every day. Every once in a while, the muse will descend and I'll write late at night, or have to pull over while driving to jot down some notes.

When you start writing, how much of the story do you have mapped out and how much is organic? I usually start with a general outline and character development. I spend a lot of time playing with the characters in my head until I feel they're ready to be committed to paper. The outline is just a loose road map, which is often changed during the writing of the first or second draft. The narrative path I've picked may turn out to be not right for the character to take, or the story line may not be interesting enough. There is certainly a lot of organic processing during the first few drafts. After the second draft, though, when I'm polishing the third or fourth draft, the story line and characters are usually set.

If you could interview anyone, who would if be and why? What would you like to ask them? If I could interview anyone who is a writer, it would have to be Annie Dillard. To me she is the most wondrous word crafter in contemporary writing. But, I think she is a very shy, private person and sometimes the alchemy of the writing process is difficult to articulate. If I could interview a non-writer, it would have to be Helen Mirren. She seems to me to be such a fascinating woman (with emphasis on "woman", not "girl"); talented, humourous, well spoken, and at sixty-something totally fearless about wearing a bathing suit in person. Now that is a modern goddess!!

The prequel to The Heretic's Daughter is titled The Wolves of Andover, and will be released on November 8th. It chronicles the life of Martha's husband, Thomas Carrier; his involvement in the English Civil War and the event leading to the execution of King Charles I of England. I hope that you will enjoy reading this next book as well.

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