Monday, December 6, 2010

Lynda Simmons!

It's very fitting that I'm hosting the fabulously talented Lynda Simmons on my first official blog day here on Get Lost In A Story. Why, you ask? Because Lynda taught the first novel-writing class I took. She certainly helped me get on the path I'm on today.

What a wonderful coincidence that Lynda has a new book that's coming out tomorrow! Perfect timing.

First, a bit about Lynda.

Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

ISLAND GIRL
Berkley Trade (December 7, 2010)

There are people who try hard to forget their problems. All Ruby wants to do is remember...

Ruby Donaldson has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease, and she'll be damned if she won't straighten out her troubled family before she no longer knows how.

Ruby spent years fighting to hold on to the home her grandmother built on Ward's Island. The only way she can ensure that her younger, mentally scarred daughter Grace can live there for the rest of her life is to convince her older daughter, Liz, to sober up and come home.

Ruby always thought she'd have a lifetime to make things right, but suddenly time is running out. She has to put her broken family back together quickly while searching for a way to deal with the inevitable- and do it with all the grit, stubbornness, and unstoppable determination that makes Ruby who she is...until she's Ruby no longer.


~~~

MAUREEN: Lynda, welcome to GET LOST IN A STORY. We're thrilled that you could stop by. Everyone on this blog loves to read. Do you have a favorite place or time when you like to read?
LYNDA: I read all the time. Newspapers at the breakfast table, magazines in the doctor’s office, toothpaste tubes in the bathroom. That’s why I have come to love audio books. I can listen to a great book anytime, anywhere - while I’m cleaning, cooking, going for a walk. Audio books are how I work through my “to be read” list while still getting the mundane tasks of life out of the way. Of course, not all the books I want to read are available in audio format, so when I sit down with a paper and ink book, it’s usually in bed with the cat curled up beside me. Pure luxury.

MAUREEN: What are you reading right now?
LYNDA: With the runup to Christmas upon us, I listen to Margaret Atwood’s, The Year of the Flood while I clean, bake, wrap etc. It’s a great book and as an added bonus, the audio version includes the songs that were performed during her book tour. After that, I’ll be diving into Steig Larson’s, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. I’ve enjoyed all the books in the series so far, and refuse to watch the movie until I’ve turned the last page of this one.

MAUREEN: I love Margaret Atwood. My favorite is Oryx and Crake. How cool that the audio book has those songs included. I have to admit that I caved and saw the Swedish films before reading Steig Larson. The actress in the lead is amazing.
If you went on a vacation with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
LYNDA: Has to be Ruby Donaldson from Island Girl. She’s flawed in so many ways, and the woman has made more bad choices than she cares to think about, but she’s feisty and smart and I think the conversations would be both interesting and annoying, something I appreciate!

MAUREEN: What’s the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve learned when researching a book?
LYNDA: That a Canada goose poops every six minutes. No wonder the parks are a mess!

MAUREEN: Every six minutes! Wow. That does explain a few dirty shoes. :) Can you tell us some more about ISLAND GIRL?
LYNDA: This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time and I’m glad Berkley agreed to go down this road with me. Set on Toronto Island, the book asks the question, what would you do if you found out you had Alzheimer’s? At fifty-five, this is the last diagnosis Ruby Donaldson expects. She has been estranged from her older daughter, Liz, for several years, but with the illness steadily advancing, she needs Liz to put their differences aside and come home now. Take possession of the house that has been in the family for three generations, and care for her younger sister, Grace, who is an adult with the mental capacity of about a ten-year old.

Liz can’t understand why Ruby would expect her to do anything she asks. Does she have to forgive her mother a lifetime of sins just because she has Alzheimer’s? Does illness grant Ruby instant immunity? A moral get-out-of-jail free card?

As far as Liz is concerned, the answer is no. She vowed never to set foot on the Island again and she’s not about to disappoint herself just to make Ruby happy. She’ll look after Grace when the time comes, but in the city where they can make a real life for themselves.

Ruby always thought she had years ahead of her to make things right, but suddenly time is running out.

MAUREEN: This new book sounds fabulous. I can't wait to read it. Your last book, GETTING RID OF ROSIE, was a humorous ghost story and before that you wrote romantic comedy for both Harlequin and Kensington. What made you decide to go in a more serious direction with ISLAND GIRL?
LYNDA: I’ve wanted to tell different kinds of stories for a long time. Stories with darker themes that don’t work for comedy. But trust me, there is humour in ISLAND GIRL. I can’t help myself.

MAUREEN: Knowing you, I can believe that! We’re all holiday shopping right now. What kinds of people on our lists would most love to find ISLAND GIRL under the tree?
LYNDA: Your mother, your sister, all your neighbours, and don’t forget the crossing guard on the corner! On a serious note, this book will appeal to a broad range of readers because it’s about so much more than Alzheimer’s. At its heart, ISLAND GIRL is a love story about mothers and daughters, sisters and friends, and the complex relationships that shape who we are.

MAUREEN: Time to dish. What is something that not a lot of people know about you but you WISH more people COULD know?
LYNDA: Most people don’t know that I’m a member of a subculture that uses high-tech satellites to track Tupperware in the woods. Yes, I’m a Geocacher and proud of it! We’re a strange lot, given to hiding secret caches in both urban and rural settings, and then posting the co-ordinates on www.geocaching.com. That website is homebase for geocachers worldwide, the place where members type in their postal codes, download the co-ordinates for nearby caches, and then set off to find them, guided only by the arrow on their GPS.

Sounds weird, I know, and it is, but once you’ve experienced the joy of locating an urban cache, a secret unknown to the hundreds of passersby that frequent the area daily, you will be hooked!

I have geocached in Japan, the United States and all across Canada. You just visit the website before you leave, enter the postal code of where you’re going to be and download the caches into your GPS. Once you reach your destination, simply turn on your GPS and trust the arrow to take you to places only the locals know about, places other geocachers want you to see, places the guidebooks have missed.

If you were to visit http://www.geocaching.com/ right now and punch in your postal code, odds are you’ll discover that plenty of caches are hidden in your own neighbourhood. Secrets known only to those of us willing to follow the arrow!

MAUREEN: Cool! I did not know that about you. :)

Thanks so much for coming by. I really hope you'll visit us again.

LYNDA ASKS READERS A QUESTION.
ANSWER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A BOOK!

Lynda is generously offering a copy of ISLAND GIRL to a random commenter who answers the following question, also posed by her character Liz in the book:

Do you have to forgive someone a lifetime of sins just because they have Alzheimer's?

OR: You can make a comment about something else Lynda said above. Has anyone else done geocaching?


Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


You can find out more about Lynda and her books at her website: http://www.lyndasimmons.com/home.html

18 comments:

  1. Lynda, thanks again for stopping by.

    Your question is a tough one and I can't wait to read the book to see how Liz handles it. I'd like to think that I'd find it in my heart to forgive. But I also think developing an illness doesn't give someone a free pass. Tricky thing with Alzheimer's is while it doesn't erase the past for the family members, it can for those afflicted. Very hard.

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  2. Hi Lynda! ISLAND GIRL sounds wonderful!

    What a difficult question!

    I think the problem with trying to forgive someone with Alzheimer's with whom you have had a rocky relationship is that THEY have changed, but YOU haven't. You would still have all of your memories of what they did. It would be so hard to accept their change when there are no physical manifestations of the disease as there would be with something like cancer, and so you are looking at someone you think is the same. You would want them to still carry guilt for past sins, but they might not even remember them!

    Making a conscious decision to react to their change by making a change in yourself and your own attitudes would be so tough.

    I'm with Maureen in that I'd like to think I could rise above the past and my own bias to forgive a person who will soon be 'gone.'

    Best of luck with the new book!

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  3. A lifetime of sins?

    Wow...that's a really hard question. Lots of IFs attached to the answer. Depends on the person, the circumstances, how much I wanted them to ask for the forgiveness. Very deep... But it might be easier.

    ~~Angi

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  4. Great article and dialogue Maureen and Lynda.

    That comment about Candian Geese... every 6 minutes, huh? Wow.

    ~~Angi

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  5. An added problem with Alzheimer's is that the person appears the same on the outside, making it harder in the early stages to view them differently. With other illnesses, there is usually a physcial deterioration, making it clear to us visually that this person needs our empathy, our support etc. Alzheimer's on the other hand,slowly steals the essence of the person while leaving the shell in tact. Lynda, posting as Dreamteam for some reason. Technology is not always my strong point.

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  6. Great post, and this book sounds fascinating! I always like to see a book set in Toronto. And I totally believe that about the geese.

    As for the other question, that's a tough one. Guess you have to read the book to see how the characters answer it!

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  7. Ha! Lynda, you are the dreamteam, clearly. :)

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  8. Hi, Lynda! And thanks for coming by GLIAS today. I found your interview fascinating and was very drawn by the premise of "Island Girl". My poor TBR pile...growing and growing! :)

    I so agree with you about audio books. The more I'm writing (and the more active the 2 y/o gets...seriously, so much energy!), the less time I have to sit and read. I LOVE being able to listen to the TBR list...makes the mundane go by faster and allows me to "read" in places I otherwise wouldn't have gotten to.

    Thanks again, and have a lovely day!

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  9. Congratulations on your latest release! It does sound intriquing. My personal opinion to your question is no. An illness does not excuse a lifetime of sins, but still, I do believe that it would be much easier to forgive someone with such a dreaded disease looming over them, knowing they won't be around forever.

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  10. I'm curious, has anyone gone to the geocaching site and put their postal code in, just to see what happens?

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  11. I love your book cover, the premise, everything about the book sounds challenging and wonderful. Forgiveness is very much a part of my real life right now. My husband and I are separated and I keep hoping he will 'forgive' me for a series of misunderstandings that exist between the two of us and now is pulling us apart. But he is stubborn, hard headed, proud - and it looks like that ain't gonna happen and we will be divorced.

    Forgiveness for me has always been easier, I think because I need good people in my life. People are flawed, just like all our characters, that's what makes them interesting and frustrating to deal with. People who can't forgive strike me as stalwart souls with a need to be right. It can be a lonely place to be. I have a friend right now who is estranged from her entire family. It just seems so sad to me. Oh, well, can't wait to read ur book!

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  12. I just checked, Lynda.

    The closest to me is called "Stinky Forever" which does not increase my curiosity for finding it. ;)

    But there's another one close that's been there since 2003! That's kind of cool.

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  13. Stinky forever? Now I'm curious. What could it be?

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  14. Lynda, I'll e-mail you my postal code and you can find out. :)

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  15. For some reason, my post never came through. Island Girl looks like a phenomenal read. Thanks for joining The Get Lost group at Get Lost in a Story, Lynda!

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  16. Great interview, Maureen and Lynda. Alzheimers is a touchy subject for me since my mother has it or another insidious form of dementia. She lived with my family for a while, requiring constant care and not knowing who any of us were--it's a brutal disease. Forgiveness definitely played a role and was another challenge for me. Your book sounds very poignant, Lynda. Looking forward to reading it!

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  17. MARY SULLIVAN is the winner of Lynda's book: Island Girl.

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