Sunday, August 19, 2012

Triple Giveaway and Q/A with Lori Lansens

The Summer blog series is coming to an end. . .it's a little sad. . .but in this Triple Giveaway, I'm sure you'll find something great to read. That has been my hope all along-- to introduce sublime authors and their masterpieces. So I'm happy to bring you Author Lori Lansens, and three wonderful stories, starting with The Girls.

This is a fictional autobiography of conjoined twins, Rose and Ruby Darlen. They are twenty-nine years old at the book's beginning, and are joined "by a spot the size of a bread plate" on the sides of their heads. Rose is compelled to write their life story, and figures they can finish it by Christmas (seven months away). Ruby is also expected to contribute chapters, and the girls have said they won't read what the other has written. The book is written with the chapters changing between Rose's and Ruby's portrayals of the events in their life. 
It was very hard to believe this book was fictional. The details and the characters are just so real, and the reader feels every joy and trial they go through- the mark of a wonderful book.

Rush Home Road was Lansens' debut novel. It is a powerful story of Addy Shadd, an elderly black woman whose world is turned upside down when five-year-old Sharla Cody, abused and neglected, shows up on her doorstep. Sharla has been abandoned by a mother who takes off for the summer, and is not as sweet and easy to care for as Addy originally thought. However, they develop a deep bond that also helps Addy work through many of her past heartbreaks. Addy was born in Rusholme, a town in southwestern Ontario, settled by fugitive slaves in the mid-1800's. Addy longs to return someday, but she has had a hard life. The author does not gloss over many of the hardships both Sharla and Addy have experienced, so readers, take this into consideration. It is well worth it to make it through the themes of hate, love, and forgiveness.

The third novel I want to share with you is The Wife's Tale. Although I liked each of these books, I'd have to choose this story as my favorite. Mary Gooch's husband, Jimmy, fails to return home on the eve of their twenty-fifth anniversary. Throughout the day, Mary processes what has happened, and remains in denial that he may have left her. She thinks back over her life, and all the ways in which being obese since the age of nine has affected her. She has settled into an inert lifestyle, unhealthy in most ways, disappointments causing her to wear "a path from the bedroom to the refrigerator." Once she accepts his disappearance, she is shaken out of her comfortable life in Leaford, Ontario, to begin a journey to California to find him. Through the journey, she ultimately transforms herself into a person no longer dragged down by weight physicallly, which also changes her fears and habits into confidence. She finds relationships, and she finds herself. I loved reading Mary's story-- it is like the ultimate makeover. 

The author, Lori Lansens, agreed to answer a few of my questions!
How did you decide to write that first book?
I had known the characters of Addy Shadd and Sharla Cody in Rush Home Road for as long as I can remember. The book is set in the landscape of my youth in southwestern Ontario. When another artistic venture went astray my husband encouraged me to write the story I had been imagining for so many years.

Where did you get the ideas for these novels, and how are they connected?
I don’t get ideas for books so much as I get characters. The characters always come first. The characters sprang from my hometown and my youth in Rush Home Road. The characters of Rose and Ruby in the girls grew out of my preoccupation with early motherhood. (I felt physically bound to my children - that was the jumping off place.) Mary Gooch in The Wife’s Tale is a character that I’d written about in different guises. I am preoccupied by the relationship of women and weight.

What kind of feedback from readers have you enjoyed most?
I get messages from my website about all of the books and each has been a favorite. I suppose it depends on the reader.

What do you hope readers will take from these stories?
I enjoys novels that move me. I also enjoy stories that provoke me to shift my perspective.

Do you have any more novels in the works?
Working on my fourth book now but I don’t like to talk about work in progress.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I have two children ages 10 and 12. My husband works long hours and is often out of town for weeks at a time. Does that answer your question? :)

What advice do you have for new writers?

Well said, Lori! Thanks to the author, I have A SIGNED COPY OF EACH BOOK to give away! Please let me know either 1) If you're a writer, do you get ideas first, or characters? How does it work for you? OR 2) If you're a reader, let me know which one of these stories you'd like to read most. Any particular reason?

Find out more about the author at her website. A random drawing will be held 8/26 (US/Canada only).

Congrats to Quilt Lady, .ambre., and Lisa P for each winning a book! You will be contacted for mailing details. Thanks for participating.


  1. I am a reader and I would love to read The Wife's Tale. It just sounds like a very interesting story to me. I want to read more after reading this. It kind of hits close to home for me.

    1. Thanks, Quilt Lady. Sometimes those books that hit close to home are hard to read, but well worth it!

  2. I tend to get ideas first. Mostly thoughts I would like to convey and then the characters show up to give the thoughts voice. :)

    1. It's always good when the characters show up! Even better when they talk to you :0)

  3. As a writer, I knew that I would one day have to write a story around a tomboy, much like myself, but I wanted to place her in an exotic situation and/or place. It wasn't until I had read the little morsel in the annals of U.S. history that around 400 known women, both Yankee and Rebel, disguised themselves as soldiers to fight in the American Civil War that the seedling for my tomboy's story sprouted (in part). I know that I'm supposed to answer one or the other of your questions, Christina, but I have to say that the reader in me would be very much interested in The Girls since I have often wondered how the relationship with my own identical twin would've been different had we been conjoined; I'm confident that Rose and Ruby could shed some light on that.

    As always, Christina, the quality of interviews we get on your blogspot is stellar!

    1. Thanks, Lisa! So your tomboy character did show herself first. . .that's interesting. I'm sure you'd like The Girls, and would be thankful you and your twin have separate bodies. Rose and Ruby are quite fascinating.