Happy Monday, book peeps!
I realize that this most likely is a Monday filled with uncertainty as we all contend with the particular situations of our respective countries and communities. Sending positive energy in the spirit that this too shall pass.
While keeping safe and healthy is definitely the priority at times like these, I can also admit that it’s been a difficult time for many of my author friends who are debuting novels. I found out on Friday that a book event I was counting on for a boost has been rescheduled till the fall – if it gets rescheduled. I’m expecting to hear about more festival and book club cancellations this week. Clearly the right call but also disappointing after years of work. What can you do but go with the flow?
On the bright side, as we slow down a bit and wait this out, perhaps we’ll find more time to turn to books for comfort and distraction. Bookworms do this instinctively anyway, right, haha?
I’ve been trying to do my part to help boost my fellow authors and local bookstores with online purchases, including an author that I’ve been excited to read for a while now. I’m so pleased to have Ian Pisarcik on the blog today! I cannot wait to dive into his debut novel Before Familiar Woods (check out that cover!). I hope you enjoy getting to know more about Ian and his work, and maybe even help an author out by grabbing a copy or two. Congratulations on your release, Ian, and thanks so much for taking the time to drop by!
AK: Tell us a little about yourself.
IP: I was born and raised in a part of northwest Connecticut that’s known affectionately as “the Icebox.” It’s remote, densely wooded, and ridiculously cold during the winter. I moved to Spokane, Washington in 2015 where I live with my wife, newborn daughter, and Labrador retriever. My nights and early mornings are spent writing—often with my daughter on my lap.
AK: What’s the premise of your book?
IP: Before Familiar Woods is set in a small Vermont town that’s plagued by the heroin epidemic. At the heart of the novel is a reclusive middle-aged woman, Ruth Fenn, whose teenage son was involved in a bizarre murder case that still haunts the town, and an Iraq war veteran who’s trying to figure out how to be a father to his son, Daniel Raymond, who has been traumatized by his mother’s addiction. When Ruth’s husband goes missing, these seemingly disconnected stories collide.
AK: What inspired you to write it?
IP: All of my stories have started with an image that I can’t shake. In the case of Before Familiar Woods, the image was an old woman sitting on a porch with a deer rifle in her lap staring out at an empty gravel drive.
From there, I started asking questions. Who is this woman? Why is she holding a deer rifle? Who is she waiting for?
After many, many drafts, the character’s voice developed and at that point the questions became deeper. The other thing that happened is that I had to work less to answer the questions. That’s always the goal—the high that I think writers are constantly chasing. The point where you’re not so much coming up with a story as listening to one unfold.
AK: What are you most looking forward to this debut year? And conversely, what are you most nervous about?
IP: I’m terrified nobody will buy the book! I’ve always found it difficult to stop and enjoy accomplishments. Mostly it’s because I expect that something will soon go horribly wrong (like my editor will come to her senses and deem me unfit for public consumption). Fortunately, I have some great people around me who have been reminding me to enjoy this moment, including the wise and wonderful Kim Michele Richardson, who has been through this before and demands that I have a little fun.
AK: What authors do you admire and/or have influenced your development as a writer? Please feel free to add specific books, we love recommendations!
IP: There are so many! I’m drawn to writers who write beautifully and intelligently about place. Writers like Annie Proulx, Rick Bass, Michael Farris Smith, Elizabeth Strout, Daniel Woodrell, Kim Michele Richardson, and Larry Brown.
The book that probably inspires me more than any other is Plainsong by Kent Haruf. The book was described by the National Book Award as: “Ambitious, but never seeming so . . .” and I love that idea. The idea of writing something big and beautiful and profound, but using simple elements and language to do so. Plainsong is a perfect novel in my mind. I wouldn’t change a word of it.
AK: What are you working on now?
IP: I’m working on the first draft of a novel that will probably turn into something entirely different by the time it’s done. One of the facts I read that served as a spark for the draft is that the suicide rate for farmers is more than double that of veterans. It’s a statistic that shocked me and one I wanted to explore in some way—even if it’s not the main storyline.
AK: What question do you wish I had asked, and answer it!
IP: My favorite part of author interviews is getting book recommendations. You’ve already covered that, so how about some music recommendations? Here are the three albums that are on repeat during my non-writing hours these days:
- Ian Noe’s Between the Country. There must be something in the water in Kentucky, because the region is putting out some incredible music (and literature).
- The Highwomen’s self-titled debut album. My wife and I saw Brandi Carlile live last year and I don’t think we’ll ever be the same. I love the idea behind the song “Crowded Table,” which is that we’re all better off if there are more voices at the table. It’s unfortunate that we still have to advocate for diversity in 2020, but here we are.
- Mary Gauthier’s Rifles and Rosary Beads. Mary Gauthier wrote this album with war veterans and it’s brilliant.
Release date: March 10th, 2020.
For fans of David Joy and Christopher J. Yates, comes Ian Pisarcik’s haunting debut novel exploring the fraught nature of families and the inescapable secrets that are out to cripple them.
On the outskirts of a town too tired for its own happenings, the boys were found dead inside a tent.
Three years later, their fathers have disappeared, too.
Ruth Fenn’s son was the boy they blamed. For three years, Ruth has accepted her lot as pariah, focusing on her ailing mother and the children left in her care by the struggling single parents of North Falls, Vermont. But now the additional loss of her husband is too much to bear, and she has no choice but to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it. But as she edges closer to the truth, she begins to uncover some secrets that are better left buried.
That’s when she meets Milk Raymond, a war vet who comes home to find his nine-year-old son abandoned by his mother. Unable to find work, with no idea how to be a father, Milk turns to Ruth for help. But as the mystery of Ruth’s missing husband deepens, the fragile stability Milk has created for Daniel is shattered by the ill-fated return of Daniel’s mother, who will stop at nothing to get her boy back.
As these unsettled and interconnected lives hurtle towards a devastating conclusion, both Ruth and Milk are about to learn that their dying Vermont town has more secrets than they ever thought possible–and there are those who will do anything to protect them.
Where To Get Your Copy:
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Publisher’s website: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/