Sunday, June 10, 2012

Elucidations: For Lovers of the Arts Interview

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Loraine Hunsaker who writes the Elucidations: For Lovers of the Arts blog. She had recently read The Old Mermaid's Tale and was excited about it since she lives in northwestern Pennsylvania. She invited me to do an interview with her and she posted it yesterday. She asked very interesting questions. This is an excerpt. You can find the rest on her blog: Elucidations

Recently I talked with an author on Goodreads on some message forum I don’t remember. I do remember enjoying the conversation and her thoughts, so I picked up one of her books. I’m glad I did. The Old Mermaid’s Tale by Kathleen Valentine is hard to put down. It’s a beautiful coming of age story mixed with romance and recent history, accompanied by lush settings. I suggested it to my Facebook friends and a couple of them have picked it up and are loving it as much as I did.

The story line: Clair is a small town Ohio girl who makes a break from her rural life to attend college in Erie, Pennsylvania, a seaport town. Finding the stories of fisherman in the 1960s terribly romantic, Clair grabs the chance to work at a cafe where they hang out and finds herself right in the midst of their world, so different than her own. She and her friends embark on a true adventure of love, lust, gritty life, and growth. Valentine’s characters are deeply drawn, wonderfully flawed, full of spirit and hope and sadness and strength. Mix in music, mermaids, bits of history, and an enviable romance, and The Old Mermaid’s Tale sets sparks to the craft of storytelling in its finest form.

I also need to point out that this is the first indie novel I rated with 5 stars. I rarely give 5 stars to any novel, indie or traditional.
I was able to catch up with Kathleen Valentine for a quick interview about her debut novel and other artsy interests.

LK: Welcome Kathleen! As you can see, I just loved your first novel. I have to say that we have plenty in common, from a love of water and a Pennsylvania residence to a love of Hemingway, along with both being indie authors with art backgrounds. I look very much forward to chatting with you today!

First, are there any comments you’d like to make about the review of An Old Mermaid’s Taleor anything you’d like to add?

KV: That was a very lovely review that you gave my book. I deeply appreciate it. I suppose every writer more than anything else wants to touch their readers hearts and I really felt like you expressed your reactions well. It is very gratifying to me as the author.

LK: My pleasure! Let’s start with location. You’re originally from north central Pennsylvania and you set The Old Mermaid’s Tale in Erie. Have you spent a lot of time there? What was it that drew you in enough to use it as a novel setting?

KV: When I was little I often spent a few weeks in the summer with my aunt and uncle who lived in Erie. My uncle loved the sea stories and sea legends and sometimes in the evening he'd take me down to the public docks and tell me stories about the ships. All the scenes when Clair goes to the public pier are directly from those visits.

Later I attended college in Erie at Behrend. Chesterton College in the book is my version of Behrend. A few of the other places are also from my memories of that period – Sullivan's Pub, Waldameer Park, the museum on sixth Street – those are all places I remember well. I worked in a diner for a couple of years on the night shift. It was quite an experience for a girl from rural Pennsylvania. One of the most interesting things that happened was when the Ringling Brothers Circus came to town. The performers and workers would come in the diner at night. There was one man who tried to get me to run away with him. He was an animal trainer from Quebec. I didn't go with him but I never forgot him. His name was Baptiste.

LK: Ah, so there’s quite a bit of truth behind this novel. I love knowing you pulled Baptiste’s name from a real character you met.

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