New York Times and USA Today Bestselling novelist, screenwriter, editor, namer, critic, movie addict and chocoholic
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Win a copy of Ilie Ruby's The Salt God's Daughter
Every once in a while, like a surprise, I get an email from an author I don't know. Sometimes an author will write because he or she likes my work. (Oh joy! Oh bliss!) Sometimes authors write because they want me to like theirs. (Joy and bliss again--what's better than discovering an author?) Either way, it all builds this incredible sense of community that I love. A few months ago I heard from Ilie Ruby. She had a new novel out--would I consider blurbing it? I actually already had her novel, The Salt God's Daughter, on my to-be-reviewed shelf, but her message made me take it out again, because how could I not start to read it immediately after she had taken the time to write me?
I fell in love by page 3.
The Salt God's Daughter isn't just gorgeously written (it's a stunner), the story is eerie, unsettling and mythical, about three generations of women who all share something exceptional.
And to celebrate this amazing book, there's a giveaway! The first person to comment on Ilie's post below gets an inscribed copy of The Salt God's Daughter! (Be sure to email me your address so you can get the book! email@example.com). Trust me, you will love, love, love this novel.
Thank you, Ilie, for this post!
I've always been drawn to the exotic qualities of real life, to what's beautiful about the ordinary and what's mythic about the human struggle.
My mother was a folksinger and painter, and the legend of the selkie (or “silkie”), which influenced the structure of this book, came to me as a song she used to play on the guitar—The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry. There are many versions of selkie mythology, tales of shape-shifting creatures that are seals in the water and are people on land. The version I grew up with chronicles the journey of a woman searching for love who draws to her a man from the sea, and gives birth to a child that is unlike others. What made this folktale a natural vessel for the novel was its patriarchal patterning, set within a time when women are glorified and demonized for their sexuality.
This story takes place in Long Beach, CA, a beautiful and Disney-esque place where huge oil derricks rise out of the ocean on man-made islands, covered in faux apartment-like casings with teal embellishments. The drilling isobscured by rainbow-lit waterfalls that drown out the noise. I find it fascinating—the effort of hidden things, and thought it would be interesting to set the story in the 70s and 80s (the era in which I grew up), in the riptide of feminism (circa General Hospital's 1981 wedding of Luke and Laura). At its core, the story illuminates the universal search and deep longing for love, and itstorrential and hidden effects onour course at different times in our lives. It was fascinating to explore this through the eyes of my main character, Ruthie, an ordinary girl who evolves beyondthe limits offamily origin and culture. I wanted not to create a version of a feminist superhero we so often see in the media—portrayed as a martial arts expert or a sexualized gunslinger—rather, Ruthie is extraordinary in her ability to apprehendtragedy, and to transcend all that is hidden abouther own identity—as a daughter, mother, as a lover, and ultimately as a human being. Ruthie is, in fact, that girl—the one nobody thought would make it, but who does.
Whenever I think of her, I'm reminded of the image of the tree pushing up through the concrete in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, one of my favorite novels of all time. I hope readers will embrace Ruthie, and her daughter Naida, and enjoy this story, captured in a place where gritty human truths spark discoveries and epiphanies that seem divine.
My 11th novel CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD will be published 10/5/16 by Algonquin. IS THIS TOMORROW was an May Indie Pick. I'm also the New York Times bestselling author of PICTURES OF YOU, a San Francisco Chronicle Lit Pick, a Costco "Pennie's Pick." a NAIBA bestseller and on the Best Books of 2011 List from San Francisco Chronicle, Providence Journal, Kirkus Reviews and Bookmarks Magazine. I'm the recipient of a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in Fiction. I was a 2013 finalist in the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and a finalist in the Nickelodeon Screenwriting Fellowship, four of my novels were optioned for screen, and I talked my way into writing the script for two of them. My essay, HIgh Infidelity, has been optioned for film. I'm a book critic for The San Francisco Chronicle and People Magazine. I teach novel writing for UCLA Extension Writers' Program, and Stanford online, do private fiction editing, and I am a professional namer! I live with my husband, writer/editor Jeff Tamarkin and we beam with pride about our son, an actor/filmmaker in college. Visit me at http://www.carolineleavitt.com.