New Release Feature Safe Keeping- Author Interview Barbara Taylor Sissel
Please join me in welcoming to The Reading Frenzy today Barbara Taylor Sissel whose novel Safe Keeping just recently released and she's here today talking about it. Enjoy the interview!
Publication date: 3/25/2014
At the heart of every crime, there's a family
My son is a murderer . So begins this chilling and emotionally charged mystery from highly acclaimed author Barbara Taylor Sissel.
Emily Lebay had always thought of her family as ordinary. Sure, they've endured their share of problems, even a time of great trouble—what family hasn't?
LibraryJournal-A gripping read for enthusiasts of this genre. The characterizations are vividly real. Perfect for a book club
Kirkus- The story is thought-provoking and well-paced, and Sissel is truly gifted at setting up emotional conflict and heart-rending doubt. The characters' misgivings toward their own actions and the fragility of their loved ones are powerful, and Sissel builds a believable and poignant examination of a family under pressure and their attempts to learn the truth while bracing for the worst.
Publishers Weekly-Past secrets contribute to present-day angst in this solid suspense novel from Sissel (Evidence of Life)–the even pacing keeps the reader’s interest until the captivating conclusion.
Barbara, Hi Welcome to The Reading Frenzy Good morning, and thank you so much for having me.
Tell my readers and I about Safe Keeping What would you do if a loved family member, your own son, say, was arrested for murder? That’s the question at the heart of Safe Keeping. It’s the heartbreaking question that confronts Emily and Roy Lebay when their 34 year-old son Tucker is arrested after yet another woman is found dead in the woods near the Lebay home. Terrified and convinced there has been a tragic mistake, Emily and her daughter Lissa set out to exonerate him, but the family is quickly embroiled in emotional chaos as the investigation reveals long-held secrets that then give rise to a host of difficult questions regarding Tucker’s innocence, and their own potential culpability in Tucker’s becoming the man who might be capable of such inconceivable acts. Ultimately, while his life hangs in the balance, what the Lebays discover proves far more shocking than anything they might have imagined. Safe Keeping is a story of what happens when a family is subjected to heartrending doubt, when their love for one another and capacity for compassion and forgiveness is tested nearly beyond endurance.
Barbara that’s quite a premise for Safe Keeping Where did the idea come from? I’m the kind of mother who does that … asks those terrible questions. What if this and what if that. Maybe it’s having sons. Or maybe it’s from my experiences while living on the grounds of a first offender prison. I’ve always been interested in crime and how it affects families, and when I talked to family members of the inmates, the mothers of those young men, they’d tell me how they were coping. Their situations were often so poignant and heartbreaking, and I would think what if it were me, one of my sons. What would I do if he was accused of a crime? What if he didn’t commit it? What if he did? I’m compelled to explore that. It’s such fertile ground with so much capacity for compassion and forgiveness, for searching out the labyrinthine mystery of human nature.
Barbara, according to your bio you said you remember the exact moment you first knew you wanted to write, when you were 11. You also say that you’ve never forgotten the sensation and your description gives me goose-bumps too. In fact your inspiration book is my favorite classic, Wuthering Heights. How long before you fulfilled that desire/dream? Was it an easy road for you?
Oh, as for how long it too, I honestly believe it’s been my life’s journey with many detours. I think one of life’s most important questions is to be able to answer who you are. It took me awhile to figure that out. And then who you are has a different answer at different times in your life. I wrote for years and nothing really happened. Sometimes it was hard to keep going, but another belief of mine is that there is something in you that always knows what you should be doing (if you aren’t doing it) and it will guide you in spite of yourself. Writing was always the place I came back to no matter what. As hard as it got or even now as difficult as it can be, that very difficulty, the arduousness of it, is a gift in itself. If it were a simple waltz in the park, I don’t think it would matter near as much.
Since writing was a dream come true for you, what do you most dislike about writing?
That I have to show up every day and do it. That it demands discipline, punctuality, persistence and commitment. When on some days I would rather not be any of those things, but there’s that thing in me that is relentless.
You say that another dream was to write for MIRA. For those who know me well, know that as far as I’m concerned Harlequin makes the world go round. I read and review the Harlequin line including MIRA for RT Reviews magazine and for LibraryJournal. So what made you want to write for MIRA/Harlequin?
I have always heard for many years, nearly since I wrote the first page of my first novel, what a great publishing house they were when it comes to building relationships with authors and readers. They’re fair minded and supportive. And everything about my experience with MIRA has been exactly as I was led to understand and much more.
Along that same line of questioning. Tell my readers and I about the “call” when you got your MIRA book deal.
You know, I don’t think I believed it. It was as if the world receded and I ascended to some high, nearly airless mountaintop. I lost focus and concentration, and it took a few days before the reality kicked in. It was so exciting!
Are happy endings a must for you?
No. Logical endings, endings with elements of forgiveness and compassion are a must. Stories with endings that inspire empathy are a must. But that doesn’t always translate to the pure definition of happy. I’m thinking of the ending of Wuthering Heights. It wasn’t exactly happy, but it was right, I think.
I know a few (very few) authors who aren’t readers. What’s wrong with that picture according to you?
I don't really know about anyone else, but for me, if I didn’t read my life would be flat. Reading, in particular fiction, has taught me more about life and about how to be in the world, how to think for myself, how to have courage by giving me heroes and heroines and epic adventures to follow than classroom work, say. It has taken me places and into times I could never otherwise experience. It challenges me to think and tests my judgment and perceptions. Reading is riches; it’s life’s blood. As vital as breathing to me. I can’t imagine how I would write if I did not read.
On the topic of reading who are some of the adult Barbara’s favorite authors?
Annie Proulx, Anita Shreve, Beth Powning, Anna Quindlan, Stephen King (loved his early stuff), Andre Dubus, John Hart, Cheryl Strayed, Lori Roy to name a very few. There are so many!
Now for a little something personal, it’s okay we can keep a secret. What’s the first thing you do when you put a book to bed? Walk around in a daze! I’m also a little bereft. I love my characters usually, and I miss them. Sometimes I’ll find myself wondering what they’re doing now. It’s kind of crazy. OK, it’s a lot crazy!
Barbara thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Good luck with Safe Keeping!! It was my pleasure. I enjoyed talking with you and your readers! Thanks so much for the good wishes and for having me.