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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Karen Hawkins will also be on the page.)
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Ellen Herrick – Waiting For The Magic
As a gardener it feels as if I am always waiting for something to grow. I sow the seeds and tender plants, the tubers and bulbs, scatter wildflower seeds far and wide over the stone wall. And yet, I am always surprised and enchanted by the magic of the garden coming to life. It is the same for me when I am writing. It seems impossible that one word will follow another and that there will ever be enough of them to tell a story, to populate a town or create a garden. Then, if I am patient, one day I look through what I’ve written and, as if by magic (and lots of very, very sucky drafts) a story has taken shape and interesting characters have settled in for a chat.
As a (very) late bloomer in the writing game I have had to nurture my confidence and my own creativity in a world of young, vibrant, talented women writers whose work I admire and love. In my head I am just as young and vibrant but in reality I am not. What I am is experienced and full of the wisdom of my years and, like a well-tended garden, I am rich with color and scent and the strength it takes to bloom year after year. Lao Tzu wrote, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” And so, I will wait quietly for the magic to tiptoe in and sit down at my desk with me. In the meantime, I will read novels that remind me of the miracle of love!
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To be clear, recommending just a few authors whose work is both romantic and magical in every sense of those words is not easy. But, certain names will always come to mind:
I reckon this a natural pick for a lot of authors who sneak a little bit of magical realism into their books. Alice is the ultimate!
Now this is a bittersweet recommendation because Laurie Colwin died at 44 in 1992. However, her five books, while not magical in the oooh, aaah sense, are absolutely enchanting and romantic and thoroughly pleasing!
Well, not only is Ann Patchett a wizard of words, she is also the co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN. She writes the most extraordinary, generation-spanning stories about love and life and parents and children and meadows and cities and lakes and rivers and embassies and small towns and on and on. Go ahead, get lost with her.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
I grew up in New York City and was lucky enough to spend summers on Long Island. My sister and I biked to the beach down lanes lined with privet hedges. This was the fancy part of town and the hedges were so tall you could only get a peek at the houses if you stuck your nose into the hedge itself. The scent of privet blossoms filled the air and bees bumble around drunk on the nectar. I imagined that behind those hedges fairies sipped at honeysuckle and little girls in white dresses read under weeping willows. I vowed then and there to have a privet hedge one day and to lie on a lawn and read beside my own children. Some decades later I do live behind a privet hedge so high our (not so fancy) former duck farm disappears in the summer behind a wall of green and white. The scent drifts in my windows every morning along with the fog from the sea and my children, now grown, have spent their summers surrounded by green and white hedges filled with magic and honeybees. A wish from long ago fulfilled.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
There are so many books from my childhood that remain enchanting to me. But, as a publishing executive, I was blessed to read so very many books before they were out in the world. I remember my first Alice Hoffman, “Turtle Moon”. The language was unlike anything I’d ever read. Her descriptions of nature, the fierceness of her characters, the sense that anything could happen as I turned each page positively undid me. I ran into my boss’s office waving the manuscript and shouting “Oh, I want this book!” We lost that book to another publishing house but I became a lifelong Alice Hoffman devotee!
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
I published my first book at 57! After years in the publishing industry and years raising three children in London, I was left alone for a week when my husband took the kids skiing. My daughter asked me what I was going to do with all the free time. I told her I would read and putter. She said, “No what would you do if you could do anything?” I heard that as what would you do if you couldn’t fail. I said I’d write a novel. “Great” said Emma, “I’ll read it when I get back.” Oh dear, I thought. And then I sat down that minute and wrote “Once there were three Sparrow Sisters.” And I just kept writing. It was indeed magical and in writing that novel I showed my daughter what you can do when you believe in “Once upon a time.”
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
For me it was only natural to explore magical realism in my writing. I have always believed that just beneath the surface of our everyday lives there is magic whispering to us if only we listen. There is the magic of nature, of falling in love, of having and making family. But to me there is also magic in the air and the soil and the sea that is just waiting for us to find it. If I didn’t believe in magic I don’t think I could write a word!
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
I find creating something; a book, a garden, a delicious meal, hanging sheets on the line on a sunny day, is transporting. Creativity is everywhere and you don’t need to be a painter or a writer or a musician to put that kind of energy into the world. When I am stuck or drift off into a funk I find music (all my books have a playlist which reflects the characters and the story) pulls me back into the writing. I also have been known to procrasti-bake! Scent is also important to my writing. Not only do I write about scents and gardens and food and nature, I surround myself with the flowers and smells of the garden which naturally remind me to dive back into my story.
Drawing – Ellen is hosting the The Romance of Reading FB page and her giveaways will go through there. Hope you’ll visit with her!
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Ellen Herrick is the author of The Sparrow Sisters and The Forbidden Garden.
She divides her time between Cambridge and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Discover all of Ellen’s books:
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