Q&A

#GuestPost #Q&A
Love is a Rebellious Bird by Elayne Klasson
@JKSlitpublicity

#GuestPost #Q&A Love is a Rebellious Bird by Elayne Klasson @JKSlitpublicityTitle: Love is a Rebellious Bird

Author: Elayne Klasson

Published by: She Writes Press on November 12, 2019

Genres: Women's Fiction

Pages: 336

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Who is it we love and why do we love these people? Toward the end of her life, Judith asks these questions, trying to understand why she chose Elliot Pine to love. Why, for sixty years, did she persist in loving someone who never gave as much as he was given? In her quest for understanding, she writes her story to this exceptional man. Meeting as children in Chicago, they move to opposite coasts. Elliot embarks on a remarkable legal career in Washington and New York while Judith raises her children alone in California, after tragedy. Coming together again and again throughout their lives, their love is never equal, Elliot defining the terms of the relationship.

 

“A beautifully written tale of enduring love by a master storyteller.”

— Jill G. Hall, author of The Black Velvet Coat & The Silver Shoes

 

And Now a Little Q & A with Elayne Klasson

 

Can you tell us where the title of this work came from?

The title comes from the opening line of The Habanera, the aria sung by Carmen in Bizet’s great opera of the 1870s. Flamboyant Carmen sings of how you can’t control love. When love does come, you may not want it. However,  “…you call him quite in vain if it suits him not to come…”. There is also a lyric in The Habanera saying “love has never, ever, known a law…” which is fitting and ironic as Elliot, the object of Judith’s love, is a prominent lawyer, for whom the law serves as a type of religion. This is actually the first and fourth title! I abandoned it originally after a friend in publishing dismissively said, “no one likes opera.” But then, after trying two other titles, went back to the original. I love opera. 

 

Why did you choose to write this novel in second person – to have Judith speak directly to Elliot?

I found that after the book was nearly complete, I questioned who Judith was telling her story to. I wasn’t happy with this being told to an anonymous audience. I thought Judith could finally be honest with Elliot by telling the story to him..addressing him even if there was a possibility he might not hear her. She had, for so long, been afraid to express her true feelings to him. If Portnoy hadn’t already done it so perfectly, I might have had it be in a long therapy session! 

 

Childhood love is often dismissed as naive, but Love is a Rebellious Bird follows lovers from childhood throughout their mature lives. Why do you think it’s important we discuss and acknowledge love at every stage of our lives?

I agree that childhood love is often dismissed. Yet, I think these formative relationships in pre-adolescent and teen years are crucially important to who we become and how we view ourselves in relationship to others. I am in such awe of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend and the subsequent 3 books in her Neapolitan Quartet. She explores relationships formed in the character’s early years and how this put a deep mark on the women the girls in the quartet become. In Love is a Rebellious Bird, Judith had such admiration and adoration and compassion for Elliot as a kid, no one else could ever match up. She says in the novel that her feelings for him, even when they were young, become the definition of what love is. Similarly, the rejection she experienced from Elliot and others in their elementary and high school years, left marks on her, perhaps forever. I think the sometimes cruel rankings kids give each other, may stay with us. I went to my 50th high school reunion recently. It was a large Chicago high school and a surprisingly well-attended event. And while there were many surprises, the crowds and cliques were still firmly in place.

 

You have lived in a variety of locations over the years, from the midwest, to Barbados, to California. Has this sort of worldliness influenced your approach to writing or the way you understand your characters?

Perhaps the years in the midwest, the Caribbean, and northern and southern California has convinced me of the importance of our universal search for love. I’ve been a columnist in both the Caribbean and California, and it is obvious that everyone wants to be “seen” and understood through intimate relationships. I interview people for most of my columns and I know how much people (old, young, disabled, athletes, professionals, working class) want to be heard and how rarely we listen deeply to each other. I also know that coming into people’s lives at a particular age means we never get to know the person they were in earlier stages. My husband and I recently moved to a different area of California, four hours south of the previous town we’d lived in. I feel sad that no one really knows who we were earlier, just as I can only guess at the rich and juicy lives of the people we are meeting now who are in the later stages of their life (sixties, seventies, beyond). Who were the babes? The powerful men? What were the tragedies? The accomplishments? 

 

While this is your debut novel, you have extensive experience a columnist and journalist. What was your experience in this transition?

I have been writing fiction for twenty-five years. Plowing away at it. My idea was that if I kept writing, I’d keep getting better and eventually, I’d get read. I won a few awards, writer’s residencies, but got very little recognition. But I kept writing fiction because I love doing it. I love creating characters and populating a world with them. But novels take years to complete, and I live inside them. Writing columns and features is another matter completely. It allows me to finish something in a few hours and have that sense of completion and see it in print the next week. It also allows me to broaden my world by talking to real people..not just the ones in my head!

 

Do you find that your background in psychology and studying human behavior has aided you in your writing, especially your fiction writing?

I really do love talking to people and trying to figure out what makes them tick. The act of giving someone your undivided attention, is a successful one in both a therapeutic sense as well as in writing and in life. For years, I taught a university course called, “Frames of Reference,” in which I would lecture psychology students on the various therapeutic schools: analytic, behavioral, humanistic. But I always stressed that the most successful therapeutic method is to truly listen deeply, giving the person the honor of being really paid attention to. I think this works in newspaper interviews and in fiction writing. In fiction, I try to really listen to the character’s voice and what they might be saying and feeling. Sometimes the characters come from real life as I remember them, sometimes they are completely imaginary. But I try to listen respectfully.

 

“A deeply touching story that moves deftly through the decades to a sweet and graceful finale.”

— Carl Alasko, Ph.D., author of Beyond Blame and Emotional Bullshit (Tarcher/Penguin)

 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links!

                             

 

 

Thank you to Elayne Klasson and JKS Communications for being featured on my blog today!

 

About Elayne Klasson

ELAYNE KLASSON is the author of Love is a Rebellious Bird. She went to university and graduate school in the Midwest—Ohio State University and the University of Michigan with a Masters of Public Health and then a PhD in Psychology. She has lived in Barbados, West Indies, first working as a health-care consultant with Project Hope and the U.N. in the Caribbean; then, several decades later, as a writer and columnist for the Barbados Daily Nation. Her professional career has largely been in academia at San Jose State University, with her research and clinical area of expertise being the severely mentally ill. A recent transplant to the Santa Ynez Valley, she is a popular lifestyle newspaper columnist. Elayne has also appeared on San Francisco public television as a restaurant critic. She is married to David, a scientist. Between them, they have five children, all grown.

Blog Tour, Q&A: Chasing Ghosts by Kamila Zahno

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Synopsis

All her life, Kamila had wanted to find her birth family. She hoped that retirement would give her the much needed time but a prognosis of incurable cancer put paid to that. They say curiosity kills the cat but not in Kamila’s case – it keeps her alive. As her own future shuts down, the past, that she had half-heartedly researched until she realises that death is imminent, begins to open up. She discovers that her parents come from Switzerland and India. And that’s just the beginning…

This is the story of one woman’s quest for her origins – and some of the unexpected insights that lit up her path.


 

Q&A with Kamila Zahno

You have had a successful career in policy development and diversity, compared to these other endeavours how hard was it for you to pen your own memoir?

Incredibly hard! I had to relearn how to write. Although putting fingers to keyboard was easy, my style of writing was formal rather than creative. At first I had the idea of writing about adoption policy and how it had changed from the post war years when my three siblings and I were adopted. But my first attempts read like a policy document! When I started a memoir writing course the tutor, Damian Barr, asked me why I wanted to write. I told him that I had an unusual story and wanted to leave it as a legacy. He tactfully told me my personal voice wasn’t coming through. I went back to my childhood in my mind and found my child’s voice. I learned to describe events just how they were and the whole story began to come to life. I was even persuaded to write the stories I didn’t want to write! I talk about overcoming my struggle with writing in the epilogue of my memoir.

This novel delves into your own personal journey to discover your birth parents. Were your adoptive parents/family supportive of this journey and did they help you in any way?

My adoptive parents had died long before I wrote my memoir, and even before I had begun to search for my birth parents seriously. Many adopted people think that it’s somehow disrespectful to start looking for birth family while your adoptive parents are still alive. All my siblings said the same. As far as my search went, my brother and sister were very supportive, as I was of their own searches. The memoir interweaves their stories with mine and recounts our different experiences. And they were supportive of my writing – even when it was about them! They couldn’t help very much with the technical aspects of my search but were there at the end of the phone and applauded whenever I fitted together a new piece of the puzzle.

We learn in the story that your birth heritage is part Indian and part Swiss. Were you able to actually meet any of these distant relatives, and if so have you remained in contact with any of them?

Yes indeed. I don’t want to reveal too much because that forms the final chapters of my book. Incredibly my Indian father never left London and was actually living there when I did. I could have bumped into him without knowing. Sadly both my parents died before I could meet them. But I ended up meeting two half sisters, one in Oxford and one in Switzerland. I found I had a nephew and a niece and innumerable cousins. And yes, I’m still in touch with everyone.

After experiencing the emotional and physical highs and lows of this process, would you do it again?

It’s strange because although I didn’t feel anything physical one of my half sisters describes how she had goosebumps when I phoned her for the first time. She knew of my existence and that proved to both of us that we were indeed sisters. It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster – a journey that lasted many years. I would find dead end after dead end and each time I would give up for a few years. But I persevered. I would do it again but I would tell anyone not to expect a ready-made family. Family life takes years to build and you can’t waltz into someone’s life and expect to have the same relationships as you do with the family you grew up with.

You are a strong supporter and public spokeswoman for the World Land Trust organization. Can you tell us a little bit more about them and why they hold a special place in your heart?

I’m a geographer and am passionate about preserving the natural environment. I am sad that climate change and the impact of humans is reducing biodiversity. The World Land Trust is an organisation committed to saving some of the world’s most fragile and endangered habitats. I came across their work when I was looking for a charity to bequeath part of my legacy when I die. David Attenborough is their patron. There are plenty of wildlife organisations that work with particular species but without the land to support them they may struggle to survive. Donations to the World Land Trust help purchase land across the world but the land is managed by local wildlife organizations.


 

About Kamila Zahno

kamilaz_3Kamila Zahno is an adopted British/Swiss/Indian woman who writes about identity, adoption and living with cancer. She has just published her memoir Chasing Ghosts: not just an Adoption Memoir, the story of growing up as a mixed race child in 1950s Birmingham, getting involved as a black activist in the ‘80s, and her recent search for her birth parents’ families. Her book was researched and written while living with a diagnosis of incurable cancer.   Kamila’s quest is interwoven with the attempts by her three adopted siblings to find their own birth parents. In 2015 her short story, The Search, an amusing account of her meetings with adoption counsellors, was published in Tangled Roots: true life stories about mixed race Britain. In 2015 she completed the Guardian’s year-long memoir writing course, tutored by Damian Barr.

She graduated with an MA in geography from Edinburgh University in 1974, followed by a master’s degree from the University of Western Ontario. She worked as a town planner for the London Borough of Southwark for several years, switching to a career in consultancy designing and implementing socio-economic policy for local and central government. One of Kamila’s favourite pieces of work was to facilitate local people to spend European Union regional grant money to address poverty in Tottenham, North London.

Kamila lives in north London with her cat.

Thank you to the gracious Kamila Zahno for introducing us to her new novel, Chasing Ghosts, on my blog today.  It has been a real honour and pleasure.

Pick up a copy of Chasing Ghosts, available now, from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Chasing Ghosts and Kamila Zahno, visit her website at: kamilazahno.com

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