Interview with Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Comfort of Lies

comfort of lies

I’m happy to announce two things: 1. This week on Traveling With T- Randy Susan Meyers stops by for an interview and author spotlight (where she reveals a special surprise for book clubs that have chosen The Comfort of Lies for their reads!) and 2. that The Comfort of Lies will be August’s Book Lovers Unite online book club selection. August’s selection will be hosted here at Traveling With T (Jen @ Book-alicious Mama had a wonderful time hosting The Painted Girls for July!) For more information on August- read here.

 

Interview with Randy Susan Meyers

Randy Susan Meyers- thank you for agreeing to be interviewed!

Thank you for choosing my novel for your group! It’s an honor that I truly appreciate.

What was the inspiration for The Comfort of Lies?

How do you create characters? Are the characters based on people you know?

Hope this is okay—I am answering the above questions together, as the answers are quite linked.

I didn’t give up a baby for adoption nor adopt a child, but with every pregnancy scare I had, I wondered about the choices I might make. Infidelity? I struggled with the issue in ways that allowed The Comfort of Lies to come frighteningly alive in my mind (and hopefully on paper.) I haven’t suffered through all of my characters’ crises but I’ve been close enough to imagine them all far too well.

Writing this book drew me to dark places and gloomy themes (falling hard for a man who isn’t yours; learning your husband has cheated; an unplanned pregnancy; thinking that you’re not cut out for motherhood; giving up a child for adoption; wrestling with the pull towards work and the demands of motherhood; failing at work.) Blowing up emotional truths into a “what-if” novel forced me to visit past sins of my own, sins that were visited upon me, and sins that had always terrified me as my future possibilities. People disappearing, or not being what or whom one thought—these themes are at the core of my writing and my life. The Comfort of Lies is not autobiographical—but I drew on bad times and exploded those stretches into “could be far worse” and “what if.”

I examined that thin line teetering between morality and absolution. These are themes I seem to visit in all my writing: the many ways women approach motherhood, fear of truth, forgiving others for sins and forgiving oneself for sins.

There something a little creepy about knowing that when friends, family, neighbors, and mailman read the novels I wrote, that they’re probably thinking:  So that’s what she thinks about when she has sex! Oh, that’s how she really views her kids! My God, she lies to her husband?

No matter how much I insist that no, the mean cheating husband is not really a faintly disguised version of my husband (or ex-husband), I’m quite sure that their nod of agreement translates to, Sure. I just bet.

How to explain a writer’s joyous transmogrification of demons into fiction? How to tell someone that no, that is not my mother, my sister, my husband, but a stew of the emotions and fears and love that I’ve absorbed. Philip Roth said it well in an interview (that I can’t locate) where he explained how it was the very goodness of his mother that allowed him to write about awful mothers. I understood that, because it was only after I entered a warm loving relationship that I could explore the darkest parts of myself without fear.

I’ve tried to explain my work process, in answer to those knowing glances about my characters: No. It’s not me—it’s nuggets of all my fixations blown up into a world of crazy. It is, as I read in The Nobodies Album, a novel by Carolyn Parkhurst, the butter that I can finally put in the cookies, a phrase from Parkhurst’s main character, a writer, who muses:

“There’s an analogy I came up with once for an interview who asked me how much of my material was autobiographical. I said that the life experience of a fiction writer is like butter in cookie dough: it’s a crucial part of flavor and texture—you certainly couldn’t leave it out—but if you’ve done it right, it can’t be discerned as a separate element. There shouldn’t be a place that anyone can point to and say, There—she’s talking about her miscarriage, or Look—he wrote that because his wife has an affair.”

I hope I never forget the phrase (and that I always give proper thanks to Parkhurst) about “the butter in cookie dough”. What a perfect capture for fiction—taking the elemental issues with which one struggles, giving those problems to one’s characters, and kneading those thorny emotional themes that haunt into the thoughts, minds, and actions of those characters until, hopefully, you can beat that sucker into submission.

Then move on to the next one.

How do you explain to a neighbor that your lifelong struggle with a mother obsessed with vanity became a character’s need to re-invent herself as a cosmetic tycoon? That your daily struggle with weight grew into a character’s morbid obesity? That your lonesome childhood morphed into a Dickensian orphanage?

How do you answer the questions, “Where did you get that idea?” There’s not a book club I’ve visited that hasn’t asked me that question about my book, and while the answers I give are honest: a childhood incident, the work I’ve done, a letter to the editor I read—those are the answers about the book’s recipe.

Now, thanks to Pankhurst, I have the answer to how the emotions marbling the story really came about:

It’s the butter in the cookies.

 

In Comfort of Lies, there are several characters- did you have a favorite?

If there’s any character I can call a favorite, it would be the most silent: Savannah. The little girl captured me from the first time I wrote her name/s. (The fact that there were two names represented, for me, the pull on this child.)

The book has nothing written from her point of view—but my original manuscript ended with an epilogue from Savannah, a scene that takes place seven years after the end of the book, when Savannah is 13. I might have written that scene just for me, as I had to know what happened to her (and the rest of the characters.)

After much back and forth, my editor and I decided not to end with that epilogue, but now, so many readers have asked what happens to Savannah, that after the paperback comes out (Feb 2014) I am going to send a PDF of that scene to all book clubs who’ve chosen The Comfort of Lies for their group. (This is the first time I’ve written about this plan, Tamara! I’m breaking this news here.)

As for the main characters—(in order of appearance!) Tia, Nathan, Juliette, and Caroline—it was never a matter of favorites, but of challenges. Each character forced me to access a different side of my self and of other people I know, of beliefs, of experiences. I found that fascinating. I write each character from a very close point of view, entering their world in totality. We are all the stars of our own show. The same is true of characters. They believe the reality they tell themselves, so each character must be written with a sense of empathy for self, the same as we hold for ourselves.

The only time I consciously base a character on someone I know is in the case of minor or walk-on characters. These are characters that are allowed to be more ‘one-note’ so I can have some fun by pulling up memories and either honoring (or not) people from my past.

When writing Comfort of Lies- did you know how it would end? Or did the ending reveal itself as you were writing?

I outline about ¾ a book before I write. This gives me enough of a road map to know where I am going. Then, as I write, I am drawn to what will become the inevitable (to me) conclusion. This outline gives me the structure that I need, without losing the momentum I want for passion and discovery.

As I wrote The Comfort of Lies I had that anxiety of “what are they going to do!” that keeps me on edge, keeps me taking long walks to figure out what everyone will do. I search for the most logical and honest-to-the-characters ending, while keeping in mind a satisfying arc for the reader (and for me!)

Randy, I remember reading an article that you had written about being a writer of a certain age. Do you think being older helps in your writing? Are you more focused now than possibly at an earlier time?

Yes, yes, and yes! I always loved writing (and in fact co-authored a nonfiction book in my twenties) but due to circumstances (single-parenting, working two jobs) it took many years before I could concentrate on my true love (besides my children and 2nd husband) of fiction.

One of the main advantages in waiting to write is this: I believe using emotional experience from the past gives me greater control in my work than I had when I was writing from fresh wounds. When I look back at some of my earlier work (unpublished!) I see that I was far less able to be honest. I was not able to write without “the reader over my shoulder.” It is obvious to me (with much wincing) how much I was writing to either heal my own past or justify decisions I’d made. Now I don’t feel that constraint.

And, very important, now I can have a calm life while infusing my work with every bit of drama I can squeeze in, living by these words from Gustave Flaubert:

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

How long did Comfort of Lies take to write?

Drafting and editing the novel took about eighteen months. Then there is an entirely new set of edits and revising that one does with their editor, so from conception to publication was about three years.

If Comfort of Lies was made into a movie- Randy , do you have a dream cast in mind?

These were the actor-images I imagined as I wrote—vague dreamy versions of them. Caroline was a combination of a young Meryl Streep and Laura Dern. Tia held a sense of Natalie Portman’s coloring and fragility (along with Keira Knightly.)  Nathan held a hint of a young Andy Garcia combined with Craig Bierko. And Juliette, although the coloring is wrong, I had a feel of Julianna Margulies.

How would you describe Comfort of Lies?

The short version is:

The Comfort of Lies, a novel about the collateral damage of infidelity, reveals the darkest and most private thoughts of three women. A little girl’s birthday triggers a collision course for three women—the woman who gave birth to her, the woman whose husband fathered her, and the woman who adopted her—forcing them to face the damages of infidelity and make decisions about marriage, motherhood, and their careers. The Comfort of Lies, a novel about the collateral damage of infidelity, reveals the darkest and most private thoughts of three women.

The longer version would include:

Three Mothers. Two Fathers. One Child.

Five years ago Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption. Now, she’s trying to connect with her lost daughter and former lover.

Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a loving family, a solid marriage, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He’d promised he’d never stray again and she trusted him. But that was before she knew about the baby.

Now, when Juliette intercepts a letter containing photos meant for Nathan, her world crumbles again. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. Her quest leads to Caroline and Tia and before long, the women are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted.

Any ideas as to what the next book will be about, Randy Susan Meyers?

In my next novel (which has a current release date of September 2014, from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster) social worker Maddy Illica shields herself with pills and work as she protects herself and her children from husband Ben ‘s temper. Public defender Ben dreams of being a hero while his family crumbles under his periodic rages, until his recklessness precipitates a tragedy. Maddy can no longer protect anyone and nothing is certain. The story is told from the point of view of Maddy, Ben, and their 14-year-old daughter.

 

*Special thanks to Randy Susan Meyers for agreeing to be interviewed!

 

randy susan meyersRandy Susan Meyers, author of The Comfort of Lies, is working on her 3rd novel. For more information on Randy, visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, HuffPost, Pinterest, and Goodreads pages.

 

Reading Schedule for August Book Lovers Unite: The Comfort of Lies

traveling with t

 

Looky-looky! A new button! Are you joining in on the fun of Book Lovers Unite? Well, you can post this button to your blog and let people know you are #bookloversunite member!

 

August’s Book Lovers Unite selection is: The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers!

 

Reading Schedule: Week 1 questions will post on AUGUST 9th (I just need more time to read & to post questions this month because of a busy schedule). AUGUST 2 will have a couple of general opening questions to get you thinking about the book- but the real questions will begin AUGUST 9th.

Schedule:

Week 1- pg 1-110. Begin with chapter 1 and read through the end of Chapter 11)

Week 2- pg 112-211. Begin with Chapter 12 and read through the end of Chapter 24)

Week 3- pgs 212- 323. Begin with Chapter 25 and read till end of book- Chapter 37

 

“But T, – there are 5 Fridays in August and you are rushing us!” Yes, there are- and we will have 1 or 2 general questions on Aug 2nd, Reading Schedule Questions Aug 9th, 16th and 23rd- and the 30th- an Q&A with Randy Susan Meyers! *For the Q&A, you will need to post questions on the “Ask Randy Susan Meyers” post. I’ll need the questions by Aug 19th– as that I have to email her and she will email me answers back. You’ll see the answers on August 30th in a post “Randy Susan Meyers Answers”.

 

Questions? Thoughts? Concerns? Ask away!

Literary Friday ya’ll…

Friday 🙂 Hope everyone has big weekend plans!

 

1. Deep South Mag– #literaryfriday is off to a great start! There was a Beth Hoffman Twitter chat (super-fun!) Other tid-bits: Beth Albright will guest post on Deep South Mag next week, news of TAMPA, Zelda and Hemingway news, and more!

If you missed the Beth Hoffman chat- use #southernlit to read a transcript on Twitter! Need more Beth Hoffman? Here’s the interview and author spotlight that posted on my blog this week!

 

2, I just finished (last night) reading Finding Colin Firth. It was fabulous! I enjoyed it! So much! Want to win a copy? Comment on my interview with Mia March for a chance! Need more Mia? Here is the Author Spotlight!

 

3. Wanting to know what the August Book Lovers Unite online book club selection is? It’s The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers!

 

4. My #fridayreads IF YOU WERE HERE by Alafair Burke, THE PAINTED GIRLS, and I’m trying to decide on a 3rd book!

 

5. Coming up soon on the blog: posts about meeting Stephanie Evanovich (Big Girl Panties), Susan Crandall (Whistling Past the Graveyard) and Anton DiSclafani!

 

6. Like Mermaids? Check out the blog next week- there’ll be talk about a Mermaid that live in NYC (Brooklyn, to be exact!)

 

Happy Reading 🙂

August Book Lovers Unite: The Comfort of Lies

comfort of lies

August is fast approaching and that means it’s time to announce the August book club selection for Book Lovers Unite online book club!

We’ll be reading The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers!

Reading schedule will be posted in the next week or so. The author Randy Susan Meyers has agreed to answer questions about The Comfort of Lies (yay for that!) Due to her traveling and writing in schedule- she will not be able to have a more interactive experience like Kimberly McCreight did. I will have a post titled Ask Randy Susan Meyers (it will be posted August 1). Post your questions there by August 19th!

More details will be revealed as we get closer to August!

 

 

Tuesday Mash-up….

Quick look over all the things going on: giveaways, reviews, and more.

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow:

Looks like from the buzz She Reads has picked another great book for it’s book club.

Some of the reviews (so far!):

A Novel Review: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

Bookmagnet: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow (plus a giveaway of the book!)

Books You Can Read Along with Groups for March:

Naturally you can read along with She Reads as we read and discuss The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow during March.

But say you want more? I know, I know- 1 book is just not enough- guess what? You are in luck!

Join Allison at The Book Wheel and Rebecca at Love at First Book as they read Tana French’s In the Woods all through March!

#giveaways:

GR8Thoughts is giving away The Affair for the April #gr8books Tweetchat. The March chat (Wife 22) happens tonight from 8-9pmCST. Come, join in- the ladies are great, the chat is good- and the convo is fun!

Drey’s Library giveaway of Randy Susan Meyers The Comfort of Lies has 5 days left!

 

 

 

 

Literary Friday ya’ll…….

It’s Friday and my #literaryfriday is almost to the limit with good stuff. So sit back and enjoy 🙂

1. Deep South Magazine and their #literaryfriday: Erika Robuck’s Call Me Zelda trailer, Joshilyn Jackson’s birthday, and much more!

2.Deep South also unveiled their picks for Ten Reads for Spring. Out of the 10, I’ve read 2- and they were very good!

Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home made the list (and it was She Reads Feb Book Club Pick!) Holly Goddard Jones The Next Time You See Me also made the list.  Here are my reviews for Calling Me Home and The Next Time You See Me

3. It’s the first day of March- and She Reads wants you to know that our March read will be The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski. It’s her debut novel.  At the end of the month, there will be a discussion on She Reads and we’ll have a Twitter chat as well (both are hosted by me!)

Good news if you like Goodreads- A group on Goodreads called Southern Lit Lovers will be teaming up with She Reads for the reading of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow- there will be tons of chances to discuss this book during March. Southern Lit Lover is moderated by Jo (Twitter handle @BloominChick) and she is looking forward to some great discussions!

EVEN BETTER NEWS: Jo @BloominChick is giving away copies of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow on her blog! Check out Jo’s Blog Diggin’Around for a chance to win! Giveaway ends SUNDAY 11:59pm EST.

4. She Reads has some great posts this week- in case you’ve missed them, here they are:

Tell Me Something True-A Visit With Alison Atlee

Tell Me Something True- A Visit with Maryanne O’Hara

A Room of Her Own- The Writing Space of Julie Kibler

5. Liked Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home? Want to discuss it? Come on to She Reads and let’s discuss- the discussion is happening through the weekend!

6. My #fridayreads is Skelton Keys by Laura Childs. What is your #fridayreads?

7. More #giveaways:

Drey’s Library is giving away The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers!

Goodreads is giving away The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate.

Happy Reading 🙂

 

Discussion, Giveaways, & exciting news!

Doing a little looking around on the internet today & found some #giveaways to brighten up a Monday!

Giveaways:

Drey’s Library is giving away a copy of Randy Susan Meyers THE COMFORT OF LIES. Listen, I’m not going to even lie about how much I want to win this book. Ever since I heard from multiple sources about how much I’d love this- I’ve wanted. Needed it. But- I’m a nice gal- so I’ll share the links with ya’ll so you have a chance to enter as well. May the odds be ever in your favor! (I know, I know- so cheesy- but I just had to write it!)

Southern Spines is giving away a copy of Amy Franklin-Willis THE LOST SAINTS OF TENNESSEE. Plus there is a podcast! I haven’t read it yet- but the cover is intriguing to me. I was in Lemuria Books a few weeks ago- and I saw it. I kept looking at it and thinking “I’ll come back and get it”- then when I walked back over- a lady had reached up and snatched the last copy 😦 Moral of the story: If you want the book- grab it before someone else.

Drey’s Library is still giving away a copy of THE HOUSE GIRL by Tara Conklin.

Exciting News:

Southern Lit Lovers (a group on Goodreads) and She Reads will be teaming up for March! Both groups will be reading THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW by Rita Leganski.

Discussion:

Book Club Discussion for CALLING ME HOME by Julie Kibler is happening now. Going on all week. Come by, chat with me. I’ve already posted the first set of questions/thoughts- and will continue to update all week. If you were a fan of CALLING ME HOME- don’t miss out.

 

 

 

 

Interviews, Giveaways, and Happy Pub Days!

Today’s a day where several books are released- and it’s got Twitter and Facebook a-buzz with the excitement. Out of the 5 books that I know that were released today- I’ve read 3- so buckle up for the wild ride through interviews, reviews and giveaways!

Happy Pub Day to Gods of Mischief by George Rowe, The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones, Calling Me Home  by Julie Kibler, The House Girl by Tara Conklin, and The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers!

Giveaways:

She Reads is giving away a copy of The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers. Just comment on She Reads post for a chance to win!

Women’s Fiction Writers is giving away a homemade bracelet to celebrate Julie Kibler’s pub day of Calling Me Home. They also have an interview with Julie Kibler for your reading delight. Read the post, follow the directions, and good luck to you for the bracelet!

Interviews:

Bookmagnet interviews Tara Conklin, author of The House Girl.

Bookmagnet also interviewed Julie Kibler, author of Calling Me Home.

Book Reviews:

Katherine Scott Jones reviews Gods of Mischief by George Rowe

Bookmagnet (aka Jaime Boler) reviews The House Girl by Tara Conklin.

Bookmagnet reviews Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.

And lastly I (Traveling With T) review:

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

Gods of Mischief: My Undercover Vendetta to Take Down the Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang by George Rowe

It’s a good day book lovers- a really good day!