Author Guest Post - Kristina Riggle (Giveaway!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kristina Riggle
352 p, Harper Collins, 0061706280
About the Book
As a wilted flower child, Mira Zielinski has never been one to follow orders. Not from her husband, not from her boss - not even from her oncologist. Mira has her own idea about handling her newly diagnosed breast cancer, and it does not involve hopping up on the operating table. Her grown children will no doubt object -- when she gets around to telling them.

As they come home for the weekend of Mira and Max's thirty-fifth wedding anniversary party, her kids harbor some secret trials. Middle child Ivan's lifelong desire to be a songwriter is withering on the vine after years of futility and his dating haplessness is so familiar, it's almost a family joke. The impulsive and very young youngest child Irina will walk in the door with a surprise groom, though she's already looking for the escape hatch in her shiny new marriage. As for the oldest, Katya, let's just say that it would be a relief if her husband's big secret were just the affair she suspects he's having. As these trials unfold, certain family truths come to light but will they shake Mira's resolve?

Guest Post

Anne Tyler is my literary hero.

I ran across a copy of Breathing Lessons for 25 cents at a garage sale when I was a teen-ager, and in the years since, I've re-read it countless times. This book showed me that it was not only possible to write about inner lives in a compelling way, but possible to do so beautifully. The characters in her Pulitzer Prize winning book were a whole generation older than me at the time (except, of course, in flashback to their own youth) and now I'm catching up to them, so the book has new layers of richness for me each time I read it. I remain a fan of Ms. Tyler. My recent favorite of hers would have to be Digging to America, another chronicle of family life, in this case, two starkly different families brought together by chance and the unique experience of adoption.

Despite this, I lost faith for a while in the draw of internal stories. Rather, I lost faith that such supposedly "quiet" stories could find a place in today's publishing world. I tried writing a "noisier" story, and it wasn't fun, and it didn't turn out great, either.

A family story kept calling to me, a story about messed up grown kids – Katya, Ivan and Irina -- coming home for an anniversary party and the shocking secret awaiting them there, courtesy of their unconventional hippie mother, Mira.

And so that's what I did. I won't flatter myself to think I've achieved the heights of Anne Tyler's craft in a first novel. But I remembered all I loved about that book and others like it and I wrote Real Life & Liars for an audience of one: me. It's just my kind of book. Lucky for me, it was also my agent's kind of book, my editor's kind, and early readers have already started to embrace it as well.

I think one reason we love stories of families struggling with themselves and each other is that we're all a little screwed up! You don't have to be mired in a stale marriage with spoiled kids like Katya, or the perpetual family loser in love and career like Ivan, or a beauty who flits through life carelessly to hide a feeling of worthlessness, like Irina. Whatever your particular foible, be it large or small, it's a comfort to see this frailty reflected in a novel, especially when the characters begin to take steps to break old patterns at last.

Thanks for dropping by to see me today. So tell me, what are your favorite books celebrating the drama of inner lives?


Kristina Riggle, freelance journalist and author of the novel Real Life & Liars, available June 16, 2009 from Avon/HarperCollins

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Thank you for that insightful post, Kristina. It's always intriguing to see the road to one becoming a writer! Readers, your comments are most welcome!

What's your answer to Kristina's question? You may just win a copy of this book if you're lucky enough!


To Enter
  • Just leave a comment with your email address in the body of the comment saying : What are your favorite books celebrating the drama of inner lives?
  • Only comments containing both pieces of info (the answer of the question above and your email address) will be considered. 
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Deadline   Midnight CST of June 8, 2009.

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24 People said

  1. I just finished Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. It was great!



    I haven't read a lot of books dealing with life's inner drama. Anne Frank is a classic and I just finished reading The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende which was fantastic.

  3. Gosh, don't want to scare anyone, but I have studied serial killers for many years and you just don't have much more "inner drama" than that. (I'm not nuts, I've been in law enforcement for years)

  4. I'm also a fan of Anne Tyler and of Anita Shreve. Other books I enjoy about the drama of inner life are written by Barbara Delinsky and Nicholas Evans, to name a couple.

  5. I'm looking forward to reading your book, Kris! I love Anne Tyler novels, too, but I think my recent favorites on the drama of inner lives are Maile Meloy's paired novels, Liars & Saints and A Family Daughter; I also really admire Andrew Sean Greer's writing. A Story of A Marriage is his most recent novel, but The Path of Minor Planets is my favorite.

    I'm at carolinemgrant[at]gmail[dot]com

  6. I would say Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp.


  7. I read a wonderful book resently "Thank you for All Things" by Sandra Kring, published in October 2008.
    Theresa N

  8. Roxana Robinson's 'This is My Daughter' is a great read with this issue. Mixed family issues.


  9. I will always love The Great Gatsby, for inner drama. Much more recently, however, I really enjoyed Meg Wolitzer's The Ten-Year Nap and seeing how each of the mothers in that novel deal with their lives at this point and their visions for the future...

  10. i would say the books by ann rule she writes true crime thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

  11. I would say The Diary of Anne Frank.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Mary
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    Autobiographies are my favorites for inner drama! One of my favorites was written by Elizabeth Taylor, and another great biography was about Lucille Ball. I love the inner drama stuff because it helps me to see how similar all of us are in the inside and with what life throws at us.
    Please enter me in your nice giveaway and thank you always :)

  13. So many mentioned books I have been reading lately. I would say the one I liked the best for "inner turmoil" would be "Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp". I was completely enthralled.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    bsyb100 at gmail dot com

  14. I would say "Not without my sister." I forgot who wrote it,but its about a cult. thanks

  15. I would say that Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp was my favorite one.


  16. I think my favorite is The Secret Life of the Bees. Both the movie nad the book.

    thisbookforfree at gmail dot com

  17. I just finished reading "I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti" by Giulia Melucci - there's plenty of inner drama there, along with some wonderful recipes. asthenight at gmail dot com

  18. I'd say any of the Jodi Picoult books. They always involve a drama and a decision to be made that doesn't have a clear black and white solution. My Sister's Keeper would be one example. Thanks.


  19. I think Jodi Picoults book My Sisters Keeper was very dramatic. Please include me in your giveaway.

  20. I would have to say "The red Tent" by Anita Diamant.

    madamerkf at aol dot com

  21. For me, that would be anything by Elizabeth Berg. I'd love to be entered in this giveaway. msbookishreviews (at) gmail *dot* com

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. I think Anne Tyler is really good at depicting inner lives. I like just about every work of hers. And I recently finished The Amateur Marriage. This is a good one. Please count me in.


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