Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Interview - Lindsay Starck - Noah's Wife - Showcase

Please welcome new to me author Lindsay Starck whose here to shed some light on her new just released, debut novel, Noah's Wife. In her interview Lindsay calls Noah's Wife "Book Club" fiction and I'm always on the lookout for super reads to feature in both my on-line and in-person book clubs, so I'm excited that my copy is high on the to be read pile and once you learn more about the novel I'm sure it will be top on your shelf too!

ISBN-13:  9780399159237

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Release Date: 1/26/2016
Length: 400pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible


In the tradition of Daniel Wallace's Big Fish and Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child, a gorgeously written, brilliantly introspective, fable-like novel reimagining Noah’s Ark for our modern times
"Noah's Wife may be a contemporary allegory, but Lindsay Starck is a classic storyteller. . . . Her novel is an engrossing fusion of wisdom and beautiful writing." — Mary McGarry Morris, internationally bestselling author
When young minister Noah and his dutiful wife arrive at their new post in the hills, they find a gray and wet little town where it's been raining for as long as anyone can remember. Noah's wife is determined to help her husband revive this soggy congregation, but soon finds her efforts thwarted by her eccentric new neighbors, among them an idiom-wielding Italian hardware store owner, a towering town matriarch, and a lovelorn zookeeper determined to stand by his charges. Overwhelmed, Noah's wife fails to realize that Noah, too, is battling his own internal crisis.

Read en Excerpt:

In the beginning it was not raining, but it is raining now—
and steadily.
It has been raining for so long that even though it has not
always been raining the townspeople begin to feel as though
this is the case—as though the weather has always been this
way, the sky this gray, the puddles this profound. They feel,
sometimes, as though the sun has never risen over their town at
all, not ever; that its very existence is nothing but a rumor: a
product of the same sort of fallacy and telescopic inaccuracy
that had everyone thinking for so long that the world was flat
or that the constellations were arranged in patterns.
“There are no patterns!” they say to one another now—
and darkly. “There are no stars. There is only the rain, and the
They divide their lives into two sections: the time that came
before the rain and the time that will follow it. But after a
while the rain soaks so thoroughly through their consciousness
that they begin to feel as if there is no time but the present.
“Today is the only day!” says Mauro to his neighbors when
they enter his general store.
“You mean—there is no day but today,” they say. They propel
their arms in circles to rid their sleeves of rainwater.
In the beginning they had all believed that it would end
because whenever it had rained before (as it rains everywhere),
it had always ended. After a few weeks, when it didn’t stop, they
tried to find a scientific explanation for it. At first they congregated
in the library to seek counsel from written accounts
of great rains of the past, and rotated the rabbit ears of their
television antennae in a vain attempt to find a weather station
that would illuminate their situation. As the rain continued, the
transmission of their televisions and their radios grew worse
and their sense of isolation increased. They turned the damp
pages of their books, and when they met on the street they
exchanged theories about the rain as some sort of meteorological
quirk resulting from a change in the winds or the tides. Later
on, as the vitamin D drained from their blood and a damp
despair seeped deep into their hearts, they decided that there
was nothing that could explain it and so they stopped trying.
“It is not something to be explained,” they say to one another,
philosophically. “It is merely something to be endured!”
They endure.
What is more: they take pride in their endurance. They strive
to see the rain as something that sets them apart, makes them
stronger, wetter, wiser. “If this had happened to anyone but to
us,” they remind each other, “those people would not have been
able to bear it. They would have left long ago.”
Thus staying becomes the quality that singles them out. Staying
becomes the symbol of their strength, their response to
clouds hanging heavy and low, the mantra that they mutter
when they find their outlook to be especially gray. Sometimes,
on the days when they believe they cannot bear it any longer,
the rain seems to let up—but the clouds never scatter, and a day
or two later it has begun to fall again in earnest.
The water pours down roofs and rushes through gutters and
falls in silver arcs from the eaves to the ground. It collects
between the cracks in the sidewalk and then spreads in pools
across the pavement. The townspeople postpone school picnics
and town parades, put away their bicycles, carve ditches through
their lawns, take baseball bats to knock the rust from their cars.
They purchase special light boxes from a mail-order
catalog because the description promises that the bulbs will cheer them
by simulating the sun. They look at the sky so often that they
become experts on the many different shades of gray. They collect
ponchos and rain boots and wear them with self-conscious
style. They learn how to walk two abreast on the sidewalk while
carrying open umbrellas. The trick is in the tilt: a slight movement
of the elbow toward the side of one’s body so that the
spokes do not collide.
“How lovely the streets look with the color of all the
umbrellas!” says Mrs. McGinn to her neighbors with a fierce
and dogged optimism. “How pleasant it is not to have to water
our lawns or wash our cars.”
In short: they adapt. They are, in fact, surprised to find how
fluid their lives are. They are surprised to discover how easy it is
to make these alterations, how simple it is to shift their daily
habits to fill the empty spaces and restore balance. Weeks
become months and years. By the time the new minister arrives
in town with his birdlike wife, it seems as if it has been raining
“There really is a certain beauty in it, isn’t there?” exclaims
the wife, examining the jeweled drops that cling to the windowpanes.
She looks attentively to her husband.
“My cup runneth over,” says the minister, watching the water
topple out and over the edge of a brimming rain gauge. His
voice is hard and bright.
“There are good days and there are bad days,” explain the
townspeople—and this is true. There are days when they wake
full of pristine joy, when the town outside their windows
seems cleansed of trash and filth and old muddy dreams. But
there are also long hours of mildew and frustration; there are
moments when they lash out at their friends with bitter words or
threaten each other with strong resentful shakes of their spiked
They are not always happy, or at peace. They miss their shadows.
Sometimes when they step outside in the morning the first
drop of rain on their plastic ponchos echoes in their ears
with the resounding toll of a funeral bell. Sometimes when they
return home in the faint gray light of evening, they cannot bear
the hoarse whispers of their rusted wind chimes and they cannot
bear the sight of the water steadily rising in their rain gauges.
They despair; and they are sick of despair. With swift and sudden
anger they take up the shining cylinders and they hurl the
water into the grass and they fling the gauges with great force
toward the concrete, standing and watching while the glass
shatters and breaks. At the moment of impact they feel something
crack within their very souls and then they go inside—repentant—
to find a broom to sweep up a pile of pieces that are jagged and clear.
In the rain, the wreckage shines like diamonds.

Lindsay Hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Please tell my readers about Noah’s Wife.
Hello! Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me. Noah’s Wife, my first novel, is a contemporary reworking of the biblical flood story. My goal was to take a minor figure from the original tale—a woman so completely defined by her husband that she isn’t even given a name—and turn her into a protagonist. As I wrote, I wondered: What does it mean to play a supporting role to someone else? How much of our identities are defined by other people? How do we understand ourselves outside of those relationships?

Your publisher says - “ –Lindsay Starck, has taken an age-old story and reinvented it as a modern allegory.” Wow!
Are you looking to tell your readers a message/morality tale or is this strictly entertainment?
I think of the novel as a piece of literary fiction—not a morality tale at all. I engage with the original themes (destruction, doubt, renewal, faith) and the imagery (animals, rain, boats, doves) of the biblical flood story in order to create something new. To me, the novel is first and foremost a story about community; it’s not about religious faith, but rather about the faith we place in others and in ourselves.
Perhaps a better term than “allegory” is “adaptation,” since the novel very loosely “adapts” an ancient story for the contemporary world. The goal of any adaptation, I think, is to engage with the original narrative in new ways, to reveal something we hadn’t seen before in that original. Books are always talking to each other—that’s what I like about them.

Lindsay I also read in your promo that you always wondered why such a dark story about the destruction of mankind was always shown in such a positive light.
How old were you when you first questioned this and who did you ask about it?
I don’t think I considered it very seriously until I was an adult. It was when my friends started having children and I was looking around for baby gifts that I saw Noah’s ark-themed paraphernalia everywhere. The animals and the rainbows are charming for a nursery, but the story behind those images (the destruction that you mention) is actually quite terrifying. The narrative of the ark appeals to me in part because it’s complicated: the darker themes of disappointment and destruction are balanced by hope, renewal, and the promise of future possibilities.

Your mom was a librarian in Milwaukee so I’m assuming your love of literature doesn’t fall far from the tree.
What do you like to read and what was the last novel you recommended?
I spent much of my childhood in the library. My favorite book of all time is a young adult novel I read over and over as an adolescent: Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Greensleeves. (The heroine eventually decides to become a writer—perhaps that’s where I got the idea.)
These days I still enjoy character-driven, literary fiction. The contemporary author I most admire is probably Marilynne Robinson; and the most recent books I’ve recommended are Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, which have been receiving a lot of press—for good reason!

Was a desire to write a natural progression for you and was it always a novelist you aspired to become?
When I was a child, I liked to write. In middle school I wrote a story and sent it off to a publisher, who promptly sent it right back. It was my first experience with rejection (though certainly not my last), and I was discouraged enough to stop writing for a while. In college I was on track to become a lawyer… but then I studied abroad in Italy, where I began to keep a creative journal for the first time in years. When I came home, I discarded my plans to take the LSAT and dedicated myself to fiction. I found a particular kind of joy in writing—in choosing the perfect word, in hearing the sound of the sentences in my head—that for me cannot be replicated anywhere else.

You say that you chose not to give a name to your Noah’s wife.
The short answer is that she isn’t named in the biblical story, and so I couldn’t name her in mine. The longer answer is that I wanted to explore the ways in which we are defined by our relationships: as spouses, parents, siblings, friends. Noah’s wife is comfortable playing a supporting role to Noah—that’s how she understands her place in the world, as his wife—but when Noah falters, she is forced to reconsider her position and find her own path.

Lindsay even though you were raised in Wisconsin you now reside in NC.
I’m a huge fan of Low Country fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Okay I’m a fiction fanatic.
What genre would you shelf Noah’s Wife under?
My first choice for genre would be literary fiction.
Is “book club fiction” a genre? Because I hope that readers find they have a lot to talk about!
The novel is also, as I mentioned above, a kind of adaptation. I’ve always admired the way Michael Cunningham rewrote Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway in The Hours… so if there’s a category for “adaptations,” or “literary echoes,” I’d like to think that Noah’s Wife would fit there, too.

There are many kudos for your debut, in fact Library Journal calls this “A debut of biblical proportions.”
Are you an author who fears or applauds reviews?
For me, reading reviews has been the toughest part of the process. Perhaps this is because it’s the part that’s most out of my control.
Another author told me that to survive reviews, you have to learn to take each one (whether good or bad) with a grain of salt. If you allow yourself to get too excited about the good ones, you’ll be devastated by the bad ones. This was true for me… When I received my first negative review, I was heartbroken. I’m working very hard to develop a thicker skin!

What did you learn during the writing/publishing process for this novel that will most help you with book 2?
Next time I’d like to outline the plot of the book before I start. Since this was my first novel, I dove right in—and then I spent years rewriting and rewriting, trying to shape messy drafts into a successful story. I had to throw out hundreds and hundreds of pages. It would be nice if I could write two or three drafts next time, instead of six or seven… Then again, I suppose that every novel must take the time that it needs. I’ve certainly had to learn to be patient.

Any hints about book two that you can share?
Noah’s Wife has a fairy-tale, fable-like feel, in that it floats outside of time and place. My next novel will be very firmly grounded in the twenty-first century, in the Midwest—where I grew up!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I can’t wait to read my own copy of the novel.
Are your author events/signings listed on your website?
Yes, they’re all there. Thanks again for inviting me to interview with you. Please come out to see me, if you can!

Connect with Lindsay - Website - Facebook - Twitter

MEET LINDSAY:Lindsay Starck was born in Wisconsin and raised in the Milwaukee Public Library. She went on to earn her B.A. in literature from Yale and her M.F.A. from Notre Dame. She currently writes and teaches in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and their dog. Noah's Wife is her first novel.

Today's Gonereading item is:
A great selection of booklights
because once you start Noah's Wife
you won't want to stop
click HERE for the buy page


  1. I really like classics of any kind that are modernized, they can be so much fun. Thanks for sharing this one Debbie and great interview.

    1. Thanks Kindlemom, I can't wait to read it. It looks so good!

  2. Hmm I am not too sure about literary fiction as such, however this does sound readable and I have put it into my wish list on Goodreads. Great interview as always, the questions elicit such interesting information.

  3. That's good, I dislike religious reads because it has the tendency to get preachy. I'm fine with the bible and the weekly sermons, thank you, I don't need it in my fiction too.

    Yet another amazing book feature, Debbie! Bravo!

    1. Braine you're too kind and I agree about "inspirational fiction" aka Brainwashing

  4. An adaption and exploring a secondary character as a protagonist sounds fantastic. Enjoyed the interview, ladies!

  5. I loved the Snow Child, so I am very curious about this :)

  6. What an interesting concept/twist. And yay an NC author!! She's just a town or two over from me too :D

    1. Wow well look at that ;-)
      I hope you like it Anna, Its on my pile!