Saturday, September 19, 2009

Guest Blogger: Joy Preble

Yesterday, I reviewed DREAMING ANASTASIA by Joy Preble and thought it was a terrific read. I think many young girls, as well as us older ones, are really going to enjoy this modern-day tale about a young girl who discovers that she can save Anastasia Romanov. I am just so excited that Ms. Preble has written a guest post especially for Booking Mama. I love that she discusses how mothers play a role in her book DREAMING ANASTASIA.

When I wrote the first draft of what would become Dreaming Anastasia, it was not my intent to have a story that was – to some degree – about mothers and the lengths they might go to for their children. Somehow, the muse seemed to feel differently. Yes, I’d still penned a story about sixteen year old Anne who discovers that her life isn’t really all that ordinary and that she’s got this crazy destiny to save Anastasia – at least according to mysterious hottie Ethan, who tells her that those wacky and frightening dreams she’s been having are more than just dreams. But that protective aspect of motherhood – well, I discovered that it had somehow wormed its way into the story.

On page one, Anastasia invokes this theme when she tells the reader, “Of the stories my mother told me, only one did I love hearing over and over. And later in that same paragraph, she describes the doll her mother had given her. “My matroyshka nestled on the soft goose-down pillow. The matroyshka – the doll my mother gave me near the end, the one she told me to hold tight, even though she new I was seventeen and far, far too old for such things.”

I had chosen the matroyshka doll for the story because it is Russian folk art and because the layers of the doll fit the layers of story in the novel. Only later, when looking up the word itself, did I learn that in Russian, ‘mat’ refers to mother – a ‘little mother’ doll, essentially.

And as the story continues, mothers lurk about. Anne’s mother – coming to terms with the loss of Anne’s brother to cancer two years before the story opens. Anastasia’s mother, Tsarina Alexandra, whose own choices figure large in the story and which Anastasia reveals to us through her diary entries. Baba Yaga the witch – a mother figure of a very different sort. A few other mothers that I can’t tell you about or I’d give away some crucial mysteries of the plot! And of course, the matroyshka doll itself – which, like the one in the Russian fairy tale “Vasilisa the Brave” that I’ve woven into the text, had a definite mind of its own when it comes to protecting Anastasia while she’s in Baba Yaga’s hut.

Dreaming Anastasia does not belong to any of those mother figures. It’s Anne and Ethan and Anastasia’s story. But they hover in the background, sometimes helping, sometimes hurting, sometimes aching for the things they didn’t – or couldn’t – get right for the ones they loved. Sometimes they just shout out the number for Domino’s and tell everyone that mothers can’t make dinner when they’re on a deadline for revisions. (Okay that last part was just me. It’s not in the book. But let me say right now that if I could have gotten that little matroyshka doll to cook dinner every night, possibly the pizza delivery guy wouldn’t have my address memorized.)

And sometimes, like in this exchange between Anne and her mother, they see more in their daughters than their daughters see in themselves.

“’What you need,’ my mother tells me, grinning, ‘is the tiara.’ She lifts the little silver-and-rhinestone crown from the display case and places it on my head.”

Mothers in Dreaming Anastasia. Hope you love them. And, of course, the rest of the book, too!

I'd like to thank Ms. Preble for taking the time to write this excellent guest post, and I sincerely hope that you will check out her novel DREAMING ANASTASIA.


Pam said...

I find it so interesting to read of the many books that end up so differently than planned by the author. This book sound fabulous and I can't wait to read it!

bermudaonion said...

I'm like Pam - I'm amazed at the way authors just let stories unfold. I really don't understand how they do it - I guess that's why I'm not an author.

Anonymous said...

I can not wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. I have heard great things about it!