I’m delighted to present the audiobook of my novel HEMINGWAY’S GIRL. The narrator is critically acclaimed Tavia Gilbert, the talented voice artist who has covered many titles, including Mary Sharatt’s ILLUMINATIONS.
In honor of the audio publication date, I’ll be giving away one copy of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL to a commentor on the blog. For a chance to win, please tell me your favorite audiobook. If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, let me know. I will be honored if HEMINGWAY’S GIRL is your first.
The contest runs through Friday, April 5th, at 10 PM EST. (U. S. residents only~my apologies…) Please share on social media, and thanks so much for participating!
Hemingway’s Girl on Audio at:
Today Hemingway’s Girl was officially released into the world. There are no words to properly express how grateful I am to my family and friends in life and online who have supported me throughout this process. I am blessed.
In the coming weeks I will post many links to reviews and visits on other blogs, but tonight I want to leave you with this post which summarizes what I’m most thankful for today.
Thank you for all you’ve done to help me along this journey. I am honored, humbled, and delighted.
Photo courtesy of tousledmind @deviantart.com
In light of the tragic death of director Tony Scott, I wanted to bring up the issue that no one wants to talk about, and my connection to it in my life and in my work. It is my hope that those in the midst of dark or harrowing times will reach out to their loved ones in person instead of by a note that will not reach them until it’s too late.
Suicide runs like a knotty vine through my family tree, as it does for many others, I suspect. Even the word ‘suicide’ is a secret, ugly word, shadowed with shame, blame, guilt, and regret. Missed opportunities, pain over harsh words, fear that those who committed the act will never, ever rest from it. Fear that those left have a piece of that in them—a piece of whatever impulse of outrageous courage or cowardice it was that prompted the others to do it.
Because of the suicides of numerous family members and friends, I have long been drawn to artists who have committed suicide, both in fiction and in life. From characters like Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s, “The Awakening,” to Virginia Woolf. From Sylvia Plath to Anne Sexton. From Kurt Cobain to Ernest Hemingway.
Several years ago, I visited Hemingway’s home in Key West. I’ve loved Hemingway’s work since college, and visiting the house seemed to cement my connection to him. When I got home, I knew I wanted to write about Hemingway at that place in his time not only because it held a high degree of historical value, but because I wanted to redeem him.
Ernest Hemingway had a well known nasty streak, but not many people know about his other side. While researching my novel, I was given permission to visit the Hemingway archive at the JFKMuseum in Boston, where over ninety percent of Hemingway’s papers, letters, manuscripts, and photographs reside. It was while reading his letters and flipping through his photographs that I saw a side of Hemingway that moved me deeply.
From the meat-head known for knocking out weaker men in bar fights, came tender words of consolation to dear friends who had lost their son. From the writer known to slam his peers through vitriolic commentary and thinly disguised fictionalizations, came a man who let a homeless young wanderer into his home and his life for a year to instruct him on fishing and writing. From the prolific husband and notorious womanizer, came A MOVEABLE FEAST, which feels, in large part, like a long letter of apology and regret to his first wife and his young self.
Sadly though, I could hardly enjoy reading about the good times in his life with his end looming. When someone commits suicide there is a natural tendency to view every moment of the life through the filter of the death. For some, suicide is the culmination of a lifetime of terrible lows, for others, a seemingly inexplicable impulse. Whether it is appropriate or not, every harsh word, every tear, even the happy times seem somehow connected to the final act.
In Hemingway’s works and letters, one can’t help but think of his life in terms of his suicide since he not only talked about his intention of doing it throughout the years, but also because of how many of his family members had died by their own hands. In the present day, Hemingway would have probably been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and given antidepressants. In his time he was given electroshock therapy that damaged his mind, broke his spirit, and left him unable to write.
While spending so much time learning about Hemingway’s death and the suicides of his father, sister, and brother, among others, I was forced to spend a lot of time thinking about my own family members and friends. A boy who had shot himself in high school for not getting into the Naval Academy. A father who had taped the windows and doors of his New York City apartment bathroom and opened the gas line while his five kids played in the living room. An uncle who got drunk after several years of sobriety and drove his car into a parked vehicle at a dizzying speed. They came back to me, and I did not welcome them.
Gradually, though, I found that while I wrote, while I thought of them, my writing became a prayer for them. It was an acknowledgment of their lives and deaths, and hope for their peace after death.
My novel is not about suicide. It is about persistence and living life well, even in the face of temptation and tragedy. It is my hope that within the words there is a release, a remembrance without judgment, and a redemption.
* * *
If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression, please don’t wait to reach out for help. There are so many resources out there. One of particular poignancy is that of Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel Hemingway. Her foundation is called You Matter, Don’t Quit. For more about it, please visit the Facebook page.
You must be forewarned: this is going to be a gushing, exclamation point filled post, but that is what a moving experience it was for me in Key West last week, filming the book trailer for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL.
I must start by publicly acknowledging God and the huge blessings he pours over me on a daily basis, and my family for taking such good care of my boys while I was away. I also need to thank my publisher, NAL/Penguin, for producing this book trailer, and the incredible husband and wife team, David and Kathryn Seay, for their enthusiasm, kindness, and professionalism. They made me feel so comfortable from our first greeting, and put me entirely at ease.
When my husband and I arrived at The Pier House Resort in Key West–travel-weary and soaked from the rain–we were greeted by a surprise that left us speechless. The Pier House’s Catherine Smiley sent us to The Hemingway Suite overlooking the Gulf, and even had fruit and refreshments waiting for us! We were able to use the gorgeous balcony for sunset and water footage. I am overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality of The Pier House.
When we arrived at the Hemingway House on Thursday morning, Dave Gonzales, the events coordinator, graciously allowed us to film all throughout the house and grounds, but most importantly, in Hemingway’s Writing Studio.
I’ve only ever seen the studio from the other side of a locked gate. I don’t have to tell you what it meant to me to walk into the writing space where Hemingway typed the ending of A FAREWELL TO ARMS, GREEN HILLS OF AFRICA, and countless other stories. I was able to sit at his writing desk with his writing materials, and I am still trying to process the experience.
The trailer for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL will be ready later this summer, and I can’t wait to see it and share it with all of you. David and Kathryn were lovely to work with, and Dave Gonzales, the tour guides, and staff of the Hemingway House and bookstore were so welcoming. I can’t wait to see them when I return.
Last, but not least, I want to thank those of you who cheered me along the way. I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of my family and friends (online and off) who continuously support me throughout this process.
I’m glowing with gratitude.
I’ve been tagged by author, Kimberly Brock, whose novel THE RIVER WITCH comes out on April 6th. She said I had to do this:
1. Go to the 77th page of your WIP or latest book.
2. Count down 7 lines.
3. Copy the 7 sentences that follow, and post them.
4. Tag 7 other authors.
In this scene, my protagonist, Mariella (Hemingway’s maid) sits at an outdoor cafe with him, while he works in his notebook. Without further ado, here are seven lines from the 77th page of Hemingway’s Girl. (Though strangely, with WordPress formatting, it doesn’t look like seven lines.)
“You know, I’m going to write a story about you, Mariella.”
“Please don’t,” she said.
“I won’t be used.”
“When you put people on your pages, you take something away from them.”
He looked at her closely, and then at his notebook. “I don’t want to share you with anyone, anyway.” He drew a long, diagonal line over everything he’d written, and turned to a clean page.
Now, I’ll tag these 7 brilliant authors to give us a tease:
I can’t wait to read their posts!
I’m slowly emerging from the writing cave. My eyes are adjusting to the light. I’m sweeping the cobwebs off the blog and making sure everything’s in working order. I’ll be ready to put the wheels back in motion this week with a book review for one of my favorite fall books, but for now, I just want you to know that I’ve missed you and can’t wait to reconnect.
Here’s the deal: I had an aggressive deadline for my edits for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL because in October, my foreign rights agent is going to Frankfurt where, hopefully, she’ll get some foreign publishers interested in the book. The agent needs the complete, approved manuscript by October 1st, so I had to get my edits back to my editor at NAL/Penguin ASAP to give her enough time to read.
Now, if I have to make more changes, which is entirely possible and maybe even probable, we’ll miss the deadline. If my editor can’t get through the million other projects she has before October, that’s the way it goes. All I could do was rely heavily on family and babysitters, neglect my house, and not sleep to get the work done–which I did–but now it’s out of my hands, and I am at peace with that.
I’ll keep you posted every step of the way, as promised, but for now I look forward to a return to semi-normalcy, blogging, reading other people’s books, and diving back into my new manuscript starring Zelda Fitzgerald.
For which the first three chapters and a full synopsis are due on Nov. 1st.
*Photo courtesy of traeton at DeviantArt.com
Every now and then the stars align, and I was the happy recipient of that alignment last week. I was in NY City for about 36 hours and was able to have four meetings, take some research photos for my new WIP, and see MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.
My agent, Kevan Lyon, is on the west coast while I’m on the east coast, so we had not yet had the opportunity to meet in person. Since Kevan was in NY for the Romance Writers of America Conference we planned a meeting with each other. My editor at NAL, Ellen Edwards, was also able to meet with us, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner and conversation. I was also so pleased to get to meet my publicist at Penguin. We all seem to share a vision for the book and I feel very fortunate to have such a fantastic team.
It also happened that the Women’s Fiction writers of RWA (which includes many members of Writer Unboxed) had a speaker and cocktail reception that night. I was able to meet so many fantastic writers who I’ve “known” from Twitter and blogs for so long, and I can’t thank Therese Walsh enough for including me.
The next morning I had some time so I went to Woody Allen’s new movie, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. Many friends have recommended this movie to me because of “cameos” by Ernest Hemingway and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and it did not disappoint. It was so charming, in fact, that I’m taking my husband to see it next week. After the movie, I took a picture of one of the fountains in which Zelda Fitzgerald took a dip, and the church where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were married.
I was able to have lunch with my friend, Lindsay Ribar, who just got a three book deal with Penguin for her young adult fantasy series about genies. (I know—doesn’t that sound awesome?) We share a love of writing and an obsession with the band Carbon Leaf, who originally brought us together.
Finally, the NAL/Berkley Cocktail Party at Sardi’s finished up my trip. I was able to meet my publisher and just about the entire NAL/Penguin team, in addition to scores of fantastic authors, agents, publicists, and reviewers. It was truly overwhelming in the best possible way.
I was deeply grateful for the opportunity I had to make the trip. To my family for holding down the fort, to my publishing friends for fitting me into their busy schedules, and to the weather for being very cooperative, I am grateful.
Three years ago, I went on a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West, Florida. I’d always loved Hemingway’s work so I naturally had to tour his home. It was at some point between standing in the shadow of a chandelier in the master bedroom and staring at the typewriter on Hemingway’s work table in his writing cottage that I was overcome with inspiration. I knew that I would set my next book at the house in the thirties when Hemingway lived there.
Eager to put inspiration to application, I promptly began the Hemingway novel when I returned home. I had already started a sequel to my first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING, and was jumping back and forth between the two manuscripts, unsure which deserved more of my time.
In the meantime, I had my third son. Writing went on hold for a few months, though my mind often wandered into the landscape of both of the books I’d started before the baby arrived.
It was during a late night feeding, in the haze of sleep deprived half-consciousness, that I had a dream. In it, I was sitting in Hemingway’s home in Key West in 1935. Hemingway, himself, walked into the room and sat with me on the couch. He said, “You have to write my book because I’ve become irrelevant.”
When I woke up I was certain which book I’d write.
Three years later, with my novel HEMINGWAY’S GIRL set for publication by NAL/Penguin, I returned to Key West to do a final research trip, make connections for the book launch, and spend time with my husband for our anniversary. It was very emotional for me to stand in the house that inspired this incredible journey I’ve been on and I could feel Hemingway wherever I went in town.
I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to occupy that space on several occasions, and I think the book is better for it. Below, I’ve posted some pictures from the trip. If you’d like to see the entire album, it’s on my Facebook Author Page: Erika Robuck, Author.
Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. Enjoy!