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Jessica
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Questions for Laura Moriarty

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IBIS
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

Hello Laura, thank you for joining our discussion, and sharing your thoughts with us.

The Rest of Her Life resonated deeply with me. I am planning to read your earlier book THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING, which I see from the blurb also has a mother as the main character.

I know that my worldview underwent a paradigm shift when I gave birth to my daughter. She is now 23, and on her own. But we have in the past, are now, and will always in our futures, always adjust and massage our constantly changing relationships.

So my question is: are you a mother yourself? And how would you compare the creative identities of mother with the creative life of an author?
IBIS

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kiakar
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

Laura, I read your first novel "The center of everything" and fell in love with it just like I did again with "the rest of her life". It really strikes something in me how sensitive you are to what these two moms were thinking. What makes them perculate, their deep down emotional state. You do this with such feeling. Have you had any experience at this or do you know women that have had some of these things happen in their past?
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kiakar
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

Laura, I have another question. I hope you do not think I am too noisy. But it has been a few years since you wrote your last novel. What have you been doing since then? Maybe teaching?
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LauraMoriarty
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty



IBIS wrote:
Hello Laura, thank you for joining our discussion, and sharing your thoughts with us.

The Rest of Her Life resonated deeply with me. I am planning to read your earlier book THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING, which I see from the blurb also has a mother as the main character.

I know that my worldview underwent a paradigm shift when I gave birth to my daughter. She is now 23, and on her own. But we have in the past, are now, and will always in our futures, always adjust and massage our constantly changing relationships.

So my question is: are you a mother yourself? And how would you compare the creative identities of mother with the creative life of an author?





What an interesting question. I am a mother - I have a three-year-old daughter, so I'm a little newer at mothering than you are. But I have heard that ages two and three can be mild foreshadowing of the mood swings and quests for identity seperation that is rumored to run rampant in the teen years; my daughter doesn't have any more tantrums than the average three-year-old, but when she does have them, I believe I am experiencing some of the wonder, hurt, and worry that I will experience in her teen years. She wants me close, and then she wants me to go away. She loves me, and then she hates me. (She actually said this once, but I think she just needed a nap.)

In regards to your specific question about comparing mothering with writing, I'm going to have to give that more thought. To be honest, I think of writing and mothering separately. I only write during weekdays, when my daughter is in day care. Of course I'm thinking about her when I'm home writing, and I'm thinking about writing when I'm caring for her, so there must be some overlap, even if it's subconscious. But I wrote 'The Center of Everything' before she was born; and I do think I was able to imagine what it was like to be a mother before I actually became one. In fact, now that I am a mother, I look back on what I wrote about Tina in 'The Center of Everything,' and I think it matches my actual experience as a mother pretty well. When I wrote that first novel, I was in grad school, and I was caring for only myself and my dog. Tina (a character in The Center of Everything) was a single mother, and I tried to imagine what would be hard about that, and I imagined it would be hardest when you weren't feeling well and there was no one else to pick up the slack and you had to keep being a parent anyway. And I was right. That is what's hard about being a single parent! My point is that I think it's possible to empathize and imagine someone else's experience without having it. I think I could have continued to write about mothers and daughters even if I wouldn't have become a mother myself. So I hope I could just as easily write about a father, a son, an identical twin, or a woman living in a very different time or place than I do.


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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty



kiakar wrote:
Laura, I read your first novel "The center of everything" and fell in love with it just like I did again with "the rest of her life". It really strikes something in me how sensitive you are to what these two moms were thinking. What makes them perculate, their deep down emotional state. You do this with such feeling. Have you had any experience at this or do you know women that have had some of these things happen in their past?




Thank you for your encouraging words. Almost all of my characters - Tina and Leigh included - are hybrids of myself, people I've known, and purely imagined people. So there are traits and feelings in both Leigh and Tina that I recognize in myself, but I've maybe exaggerated them. And then they aren't me anymore. Evelyn, the narrator of The Center of Everything, thinks many of the thoughts I had at her age, but she isn't me. I grew up in a two parent home with three sisters, and I've been a vegetarian since I was ten. (Evenlyn has one brother, and is eating meat throughout the book.) So I'm not my characters. That's an important distinction for me - I really enjoy writing about someone who isn't me. It frees me from being in my own head for a few hours a day. I don't mean that I don't like being me - I do. But experiencing someone else's thoughts and feelings is a helpful - and I'd say restful - exercise. I get a break from myself, if that makes any sense. This is something I also love about reading, and I imagine this is the same reason a lot of people read.

And I've been fortunate enough to have never been involved in a car accident like this one. But in doing research for this book, and in hearing from readers, I know how common they are, and so I can only hope that good fortune continues. I will say the experience of writing this book has made me a more careful driver. I hope it's made me a more careful mother as well.


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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty



kiakar wrote:
Laura, I have another question. I hope you do not think I am too noisy. But it has been a few years since you wrote your last novel. What have you been doing since then? Maybe teaching?





Hi Kiakar. No - it's not nosy. (There's quite a bit about nosiness in The Rest of Her Life; I don't think it's always a bad thing to want to know what's happening in the lives of other people, but I would be interested to know what readers think of the character Eva.)

So here's what I've done in the last four years: I moved back to Kansas from New Englad, had a baby, wrote some things that I set aside, got divorced, learned how to be a single parent,and wrote The Rest of Her Life. That's kept me pretty busy. I might publish at a quicker pace in the future, but I might not. I decided at some point that it's important to experience life if I want to write about it, so I give myself days off every now and then to hang out with my daughter and my friends (or even just go for a walk if it's nice out.)


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty


LauraMoriarty wrote:



In regards to your specific question about comparing mothering with writing, I'm going to have to give that more thought. To be honest, I think of writing and mothering separately. I only write during weekdays, when my daughter is in day care. Of course I'm thinking about her when I'm home writing, and I'm thinking about writing when I'm caring for her, so there must be some overlap, even if it's subconscious. But I wrote 'The Center of Everything' before she was born; and I do think I was able to imagine what it was like to be a mother before I actually became one. In fact, now that I am a mother, I look back on what I wrote about Tina in 'The Center of Everything,' and I think it matches my actual experience as a mother pretty well. When I wrote that first novel, I was in grad school, and I was caring for only myself and my dog. Tina (a character in The Center of Everything) was a single mother, and I tried to imagine what would be hard about that, and I imagined it would be hardest when you weren't feeling well and there was no one else to pick up the slack and you had to keep being a parent anyway. And I was right. That is what's hard about being a single parent! My point is that I think it's possible to empathize and imagine someone else's experience without having it. I think I could have continued to write about mothers and daughters even if I wouldn't have become a mother myself. So I hope I could just as easily write about a father, a son, an identical twin, or a woman living in a very different time or place than I do.


Laura, that made me think about what a good writer has in common with a good shrink. Neither has to experience everything someone else does, to write about them or understand them. Most the time they can't but both have the capacity to put themselves in the role of another person and what they must be going through. When I did a lot of writing in high school and college, I wrote much more about what I saw, or things I thought people might be feeling than what I actually had experienced. And some people I wrote poems or stories for loved them and said thats exactly how I feel! This was the same in my grad work in psychology. We had to do some reflective and active listening exercises that were taped, where we had someone come in with anything they wanted to present as a problem and we had to be able to show that we undestood what they were saying first of all with parroting them back (saying exactly what they say) or but using cliches like "and how did that make you feel". It was great training in being empathetic with people while being objective too. I dont think a shrink has to be a mother to understand what she might feel, or a man, or of this sexual orientation or that, for that matter, and I dont think a good writer does either. As a matter of fact, some of the best are the ones you find out dont have the lives of their characters but you sure believed they must have when you first read it because it was so real.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Stephanie
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

Laura,

I would love to hear about your next book, and I'm sure the group would as well. I'm looking forward to it.
Stephanie
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LauraMoriarty
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for asking what I'm working on now. I'm not sure if I'll stay on with this idea, but I've been thinking about how when I was in college, my parents, and a lot of my friends' parents, were getting divorced. I think that often happens when the youngest, or almost youngest, child leaves home. And I remember noticing that a lot of our mothers did not fare so well financially after the divorces. I know this isn't always the case, but statistically speaking, divorce is a lot harder on women's finances than it is on men's. I was thinking a mother's sudden plummet into near poverty might really change the dynamic between that mother and her on-the-verge-of-adulthood daughter, and I thought it might be interesting to look at how that change would affect the daughter's decisions as far as school, career, and relationships, and also how it would affect her relationship with her father. My concern is that I would want the characters to be real people, not just victims and bad guys, but shaded characters, and I want the novel to be a story that asks questions, not a diatribe about how mothers should live their lives (staying home with kids vs. having your own career.) Feminism has done a lot for us, and continues to, but even today, it is not always possible to 'have it all.' In some cases, you do have to sacrifice a career, or some of a career, when you become a mother. It depends on the kind of job you have, the kind of job your partner has, and the need level of the child you have, but I do believe that some women are still forced to make hard choices, and I'm interested in a story that illustrates and examines that.

I've had a two month break from writing because of the book tour (and because I clean my house once a year, like Leigh!), but I'll get back to what I've already written soon and see if it's worth going further.


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kiakar
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty



LauraMoriarty wrote:
Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for asking what I'm working on now. I'm not sure if I'll stay on with this idea, but I've been thinking about how when I was in college, my parents, and a lot of my friends' parents, were getting divorced. I think that often happens when the youngest, or almost youngest, child leaves home. And I remember noticing that a lot of our mothers did not fare so well financially after the divorces. I know this isn't always the case, but statistically speaking, divorce is a lot harder on women's finances than it is on men's. I was thinking a mother's sudden plummet into near poverty might really change the dynamic between that mother and her on-the-verge-of-adulthood daughter, and I thought it might be interesting to look at how that change would affect the daughter's decisions as far as school, career, and relationships, and also how it would affect her relationship with her father. My concern is that I would want the characters to be real people, not just victims and bad guys, but shaded characters, and I want the novel to be a story that asks questions, not a diatribe about how mothers should live their lives (staying home with kids vs. having your own career.) Feminism has done a lot for us, and continues to, but even today, it is not always possible to 'have it all.' In some cases, you do have to sacrifice a career, or some of a career, when you become a mother. It depends on the kind of job you have, the kind of job your partner has, and the need level of the child you have, but I do believe that some women are still forced to make hard choices, and I'm interested in a story that illustrates and examines that.

I've had a two month break from writing because of the book tour (and because I clean my house once a year, like Leigh!), but I'll get back to what I've already written soon and see if it's worth going further.





Laura, this sounds like a wonderful book. I hope it happens! It sounds great! Keep them coming. Now you have got to work alittle harder this time! Maybe One year instead of four. I am not complaining, but four years is too long to wait for your books!
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Wrighty
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty


LauraMoriarty wrote:
Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for asking what I'm working on now. I'm not sure if I'll stay on with this idea, but I've been thinking about how when I was in college, my parents, and a lot of my friends' parents, were getting divorced. I think that often happens when the youngest, or almost youngest, child leaves home. And I remember noticing that a lot of our mothers did not fare so well financially after the divorces. I know this isn't always the case, but statistically speaking, divorce is a lot harder on women's finances than it is on men's. I was thinking a mother's sudden plummet into near poverty might really change the dynamic between that mother and her on-the-verge-of-adulthood daughter, and I thought it might be interesting to look at how that change would affect the daughter's decisions as far as school, career, and relationships, and also how it would affect her relationship with her father. My concern is that I would want the characters to be real people, not just victims and bad guys, but shaded characters, and I want the novel to be a story that asks questions, not a diatribe about how mothers should live their lives (staying home with kids vs. having your own career.) Feminism has done a lot for us, and continues to, but even today, it is not always possible to 'have it all.' In some cases, you do have to sacrifice a career, or some of a career, when you become a mother. It depends on the kind of job you have, the kind of job your partner has, and the need level of the child you have, but I do believe that some women are still forced to make hard choices, and I'm interested in a story that illustrates and examines that.

I've had a two month break from writing because of the book tour (and because I clean my house once a year, like Leigh!), but I'll get back to what I've already written soon and see if it's worth going further.




Wow Laura, that sounds like a great book. Your idea hits close to home for me. It sounds like my parents. They divorced when I was in college and they only had one child left at home. It was a huge shock and a dramatic change in every aspect of our lives. My mother also hit financial lows but she worked hard and everything she gained was hers alone. She took great pride in that and she has been an amazing role model for me. I like the idea you had about showing people in shades of gray instead of good and bad. That sounds more realistic to me. Although we often think of my father as the bad guy he's not a terrible person. He thought he was doing what was right because he was doing what he was taught. He was a very hard worker and a good provider but he didn't have much left to give of his time or his emotions. Unfortunately he still hasn't learned from it and is married to his job first. My husband and I both have divorced parents and it has made a difference in our marriage and how we parent. We try very hard not to repeat their mistakes. I look forward to reading your next book and all of the ones after that!
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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

My parents divorced when I was in high school. My older brother and sister were out on their own by then and I had a younger brother at home still too. They were married over 20 years and never got along. I was glad they were divorcing actually. I was just a kid who was worn out by wondering what was going on , on the other side of that door when I would come home from school each day and would I get dragged into it. School was my refuge and my grades were great so I concentrated on that and my younger brother. Its not that my father was a bad man, he provided for us, wasnt mean. Actually its that he wanted so little conflict that just as this family in this book faced a huge crisis, my family did too at one point, and when I needed him, he didnt do anything one way or the other. He was emotionally checked out on all of us. I needed his emotional support and love and actual physical protection and he did nothing. So, for me,with all the fighting between my mother and him and at the biggest crisis in my young life happening and he did nothing,not even tell my mother. I was glad they got a divorce. They wound up remarried in just about two years tho because my mom couldn't handle working and supporting the three of us, even tho I volunteered to get a job after school each day, so she went back. They were married for over 20 years that first time then about 4 more after. But my mom didnt leave again until she had found a "replacement" first. She has now been married 6 times. All of my syblings have been through at least one divorce except me, I chose not to get married and just pursued my college education and a career until I became disabled.

I am one of those "iffy" people about your idea of a for the new book Laura lol. I read what you wrote about it and thought to myself, what can you say about a divorcing family that isnt just another "Lifetime" tv movie and would be interesting enough to read. No offense or attack on your idea ok? Just considering in my head the topic and you are right, you would have to do it in such a way that it isn't "just another diatribe on mothers". I like your writing style and the characters in this book but I doubt I would buy a book about the affects of a divorce on a family, I can't see it really drawing me in, its just too familiar to us all, who doesnt have a divorce somewhere in their family anymore. Its the ones who stay together that intrigue me. You do have a task on that one indeed, to make it interesting enough so that its not another, been there done that book, or a how to book. But, if you ever go back and write what you talked about doing before you did this one with the car accident, and do the one with the baby left in the car one, I would love to read that and all the emotions going on inside everyone in the family. It is something that happens way too often today but still astounds us all and we never hear anymore about how the family and their friends and neighbors feel,once the incident is out of the news. That would take us somewhere most of us have never been and hope to never be but are curious about how people handle such an event or how they are perceived after it. Its a very timely subject now too and I would love to hear where you were going to go with that.
As for the divorce book, all this is just my opinion of course lol and I am sure you would find a twist of some kind to put on it, so good luck with your future writings :smileyhappy: .
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Bonnie824
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

Hi Laura
I am late getting started here, so I hope this hasn't already been asked and answered somewhere else- What made you decide to write this from Leigh's POV (I have only started so maybe this switches later)?
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Stephanie
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Re: Questions for Laura Moriarty

Laura,

I think it's an excellent idea for a novel, because the relationship between that youngest daughter and her mother is often a clearer one than the relationship the older siblings have had with the mother. Less angst. I'm a "youngest" - can you tell? There are six others, and I got to learn all the mistakes the easy way, by watching my sisters and brother make them. :smileyhappy: My mother and I had quite a lot of honest discourse about the directions our lives were going through the many changes to the family dynamic.

Will you tell the story from the daughter's point of view?
Stephanie
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