... for the spring season!
-- Publishers Weekly, 1/25/2010
As usual, we highlight 10 promising fiction debuts for our seasonal announcement issue. Among the protagonists: a husband who can't live with—or without—his wife, a divorcée who finds happiness at 35,000 feet, a young man who struggles to explain the power of lightning, and other compelling characters. Vietnam vet Karl Marlantes starts us off talking about his own first novel's unusual evolution.
(Crown/Shaye Areheart Books, Apr.)
Born: Norfolk, Va.; now lives in Richmond.
Favorite authors: Wally Lamb, John Irving, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner.
Career arc: From cashier, nanny, receptionist, and public school teacher to novelist.
Plot: In this coming-of-age story that spans 20 years, Becca and Buckley are two lost souls whose lives were dramatically altered by lightning strikes. Separated by time and place, they find each other in unusual circumstances after one of them writes a handbook for survivors. The novel is interspersed with excerpts from the handbook.
Author's toughest challenge: “Continuing to write every day after starting a family. As a new stay-at-home mom, I didn't have contact with other writers, and I'd just finished my M.F.A. in fiction writing. My world totally changed, and I didn't know if I'd be able to keep writing like I had been.”
Publisher's pitch: Says editor Sarah Knight, “I was won over by the title and thrilled when the novel was every bit as vibrant, moving, and magical as it sounded. Michele's writing reminded me of Wally Lamb—the way she makes every little piece mean something in the end.”