Forty years later the two meet again. Using a combination of flashbacks and poignant scenes set in the present, Linda Hutsell-Manning's THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN (Second Story Press, 2011) shows how the two women must decide whether to finally speak up about what they witnessed and forgive themselves for the choices they've made ever since.
By the way, at the end of today’s post is a chance to win one of two copies of THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN as well as the winners of Christine Nolfi’s novel TREASURE ME.
Linda, how did the idea for THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN come to you?
In the 1990s, I wrote two short stories, Miss Purity Flour featuring Hannah Norcroft and One Friday Night featuring Colleen Miller. Both stories are set in the small town of Franklin in the 1950s, and in each of the stories, the girls know each other and interact. After many rejections from literary magazines, I decided to work them into a novel.
What was the most challenging part about writing this book?
Although it does not seem so now, especially to readers (when I mention it), the most difficult aspect of writing, for me, is the plot. The characters come alive as they develop and, because of my long-standing association with amateur theatre and acting, dialogue flows easily. I have to work hard at the plot, and I did with this novel.
Although you've been writing for many years and had several children's books and plays published, this is your first novel for adults. Was it challenging making the switch?
When I graduated from university as a mature student, I was steeped in Canadian, American and British literature. I resolved to write short fiction and eventually novels. Writing for children did not, initially, occur to me. My first children's book idea came unexpectedly. Writing it was a delight, and when it was published, I turned my attention to other children's genres. I wrote a children's play that was produced and published, all this time still writing and sending out short fiction to literary magazines—and waiting six months to a year for another rejection. Once I began writing for children, I almost abandoned my first resolve and only, once in a while, would rework a story and send it out again. In the 1990s, I also began writing and sending out poetry to literary magazines. A few were accepted, a few placed in competitions.
I wrote the first drafts of THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN in 2000 and was fortunate to have it critiqued by a writer friend, Joan Barfoot, whose novels I have long admired. In 2001, my first children's time-travel novel was accepted for publication, and again I abandoned thoughts of writing for adults and concentrated on what was begun as a series of historical, time-travel juvenile novels. The first two were published, the third was completed and the fourth was started. When the third novel was rejected by the publisher, I was understandably upset and decided I would go back to writing for adults. THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN is the result. The interesting irony here is that after FRANKLIN was accepted for publication and before it was released, both mentioned short stories placed in literary competitions.
What is your favorite marketing tip?
Contact as many people as you can when your book is ready for publication. Before my initial hometown book launch, I contacted about 150 people through email, snail mail and with business cards. Sixty-five people came to that launch. One-on-one promotion is the best, while social media runs a close second; both are necessary.
What do you like best about your publisher, Second Story Press? And how did you find one another?
Second Story Press did a stellar job of editing the book. The staff has been supportive and helpful with promotion. They have made me feel that what I have written is worthwhile, that I write well. On my second round of sending out the manuscript, a number of presses rejected it, and Second Story said yes.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism I faced related to some changes I made during the editing of the novel. This tough editing produced the book as it is today and so, in the end, was definitely worth it.
The best compliment comes from my former Canadian literature professor, Leslie Monkman, who, in the 1970s, strongly encouraged me to write. I was unaware he had read my book and so felt humbled and a bit overwhelmed when he wrote me to say: "The book's delineations of the emotional complexities of family relationships are worthy of Margaret Laurence at her best, and your skilled handling of the intersecting plot lines make the book as readable as anything by Maeve Binchy."
Can you share a little about your current work with us?
I am working (slowly) on two projects—a short story collection whose working title is GLIMPSING YESTERDAY, CATCHING TODAY and a poetry collection whose working title OUR WHOLE LIVES WAITING. I've been very busy with readings since the book came out in March.
What is something about you or your writing that might surprise your readers?
People are frequently surprised to hear how many drafts of a given piece I write—never fewer than 10, frequently more than 20.
Linda Hutsell-Manning's publications include juvenile fiction and plays, poetry, short fiction and TV scripts. A freelance journalist, community college creative writing teacher and author reading series host, she has also promoted her work internationally. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she moved to Ontario at age 9 and, after attending Ryerson Institute and Toronto Teacher's College, taught for two years in a one-room school.
She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Guelph, Canada, and began writing full time in 1981. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in literary magazines, while her debut literary novel, THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN, has been well received with readings throughout Ontario and in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN is available in paperback. Linda is online at http://www.thatsummerinfranklin.ca/. And the book trailer is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYEjlBARoc8.
WIN A COPY OF THAT SUMMER IN FRANKLIN
Would you like to have your own copy of this moving book? Here's how you can enter for a chance to win one of two copies:
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Then comment on this post with your point total and e-mail address! The contest will be open until midnight Nov. 26, and the winner will be announced the week of Nov. 27. Good luck!
TREASURE ME WINNERS
The winners of Christine Nolfi’s newest novel, TREASURE ME, are Tirzah Goodwin of A Clever Whatever and picture-book author Susanna Leonard Hill. The winners were chosen by www.random.org. Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who entered!