Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Club Exchange: Andrea Thalasinos

I'd like to welcome author Andrea Thalasinos to Book Club Exchange. Ms. Thalasinos's new novel TRAVELING LIGHT is currently available, and I think is sounds wonderful. It's described as "an inspiring story about fate, family, and healing." By all accounts, that should make it perfect for book clubs!

I am so glad that Ms. Thalasinos agreed to take time from her busy schedule to write this guest post about her experiences with book clubs! I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

My first experience with book groups taught me that I was not book group material. After having been invited by co-workers to participate as a guest I ended up dominating the entire evening with ideas, thoughts and even crossed swords with the President of the College where I taught at the time. Somehow the idea of respecting protocol or rank hadn’t seemed relevant. Me, a probationary sociology faculty, the College President, a larger than life figure (who wore floor-length capes and cowboy hats) that everyone else knew better than to challenge—but what did I know. All was fair when it came to books, ideas and the expression of truth. Or so I thought. 

“Big mouth,” my mother used to call me. “You always have to have the last word.” Okay, so maybe there was (and is?) some truth to that. In retrospect, I did manage to keep my job though I wasn’t invited back.

Then it happened a second time, a few months later, only this time with people down the street—essentially my neighbors. This time I held back, was polite, let others take the lead in discussion. By the time it was over I left with the beginning of one hell of a whopping headache that blossomed on the walk home. At the time I blamed it on my being a displaced New Yorker in a mid-sized Midwestern city where people are more likely to think before they speak, let others take the lead in talking and most importantly, not interrupt. That was also the time I started writing fiction and discovered that I fared much better as a visiting author than a participant. 

I still read like a fiend and my interests take me to favorite authors such as Daniel Woodrell, J.M. Coetzee, Marilyn Robinson, Russell Banks to name a few. I read to become a better writer, to see how others structure stories, develop scenes and characters, and whether they strike that most elusive of chords—having the burn of truth.  I always know when they hit it because their stories follow me for days, exhorting me to examine my motives and sense of honesty a little more carefully.   

I’m always scouring book shelves, asking others for tips on stories. And I count on writers who’ve come before me to help show the way, to humble and make me glad that I get to do this most demanding of crafts.  

Writing, whether novels, journals or stories of any kind, leaves you with a record of what your life is like in a given time. You will freeze frame a moment. It always strikes me with a sense of relief yet discontent when I finish a story. “Okay for now, but next time I’ll get closer to my own burn of truth.” Maybe that’s why I’ve come to love writing more than talking.  

Summary: Paula Makaikis is ashamed of her marriage. Driven out of their bedroom by Roger’s compulsive hoarding, she has spent the past ten years sleeping downstairs on her husband’s ratty couch. Distant and uninspired, Paula is more concerned with the robins landing on her office window ledge than her hard-earned position at the university.

Until a phone call changes everything.

A homeless Greek man is dying in a Queens hospital and Paula is asked to come translate. The old man tells her of his beloved dog, Fotis, who bit a police officer when they were separated. Paula has never considered adopting a dog, but she promises the man that she will rescue Fotis and find him a good home. But when Fotis enters her life she finds a companion she can’t live without. Suddenly Paula has a dog, a brand-new Ford Escape, an eight-week leave of absence, and a plan.

So Fotis and Paula begin the longest drive of their lives. In northern Minnesota, something compels her to answer a help-wanted ad for a wildlife rehabilitation center. Soon Paula is holding an eagle in her hands, and the experience leaves her changed forever.

An inspiring story about fate, family, and healing, this novel explores what is possible when we cut the ties that hold us down and the heart is free to soar. 

Traveling Light by Andrea Thalasinos is an inspiring story about fate, family, and healing. -- Forge
Andrea grew up in the New York area as the daughter of a Greek American family. Her early love of animals was confined
mostly to luring home stray dogs by surreptitiously feeding them and then trying to keep them hidden from her parents. Kostantino and Mary were not keen on dogs!

After taking a creative writing course in high school her life was changed. Working in the school library, she'd cut classes and sneak out with an armful of books, hitchhiking down to Jones Beach even in winter to read and write.

Through a quirk of fate she later moved to the northern Great Lakes and began attending the University of Wisconsin Madison where she completed a PH.D. With academic training in sociology, she compares the excavation of history, people and events to, "discovering diamonds in a place one would never expect, embedded into stories that are yet to be told. It's exhilarating as information and story weave together to form new ways of seeing previously unexamined or unknown things."

She remembers telling a close friend after graduation, "Whew, glad that's over, now I can write fiction and get a dog!"

Currently, Andrea lives in Madison, Wisconsin where she is anxiously awaiting the publication of her second novel, Traveling Light, scheduled for release on July 16, 2013 by Forge Books, (Macmillan). Traveling Light is available for pre-order. An Echo Through The Snow was released in August of 2012 and is available for purchase. Andrea is working on her third novel.

A huge thanks to Ms. Thalasinos for participating in Book Club Exchange!

If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.  


Beth F said...

Ha!!! I loved hearing about Andrea's experiences with book clubs. I'd love to be in a club with her; I'm all for speaking up.

bermudaonion said...

I'd like to be in a book club with Andrea too - sometimes I think my book club is too reticent.

Suko said...

I have never been in a book club! But that is because I don't think I'd do very well in such a group (for different reasons than listed here). Great guest post. :)