Saturday, June 18, 2011

Guest Blog: Terri Giuliano Long

Me Want Food welcomes Terri Giuliano Long! If you are interested in guest blogging, contact kspatwriter at yahoo for details.

Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit, and allowing me to share my thoughts!

In Leah’s Wake, my debut novel, tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a star soccer player, has led a perfect life. When she meets a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs—all this feels like freedom to her. Her terrified parents, thinking they’re losing their daughter, pull the reigns tighter. Unfortunately, they get it all wrong, pushing when they ought to be pulling, and communication breaks down. Soon, there’s no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine caught between the parents she loves, and the big sister she adores, finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to pull her family together. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn't enough? 

Jodi Picoult fans often tell me the book reminds them of hers.
I’m not sure she – or I – would agree, but we both write topical family stories. And it’s a lovely compliment.

How did you become inspired to write this work?

Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their struggles. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me. 
My husband and I have four daughters. When I began writing In Leah's Wake, they were teens. Most families experience conflict during their children's teenage years. We’re no different - though, thank goodness, ours were tame. We experienced nothing remotely like the problems and challenges the Tylers face in the book.
As a parent, I knew how it felt to be scared, to be concerned for your children’s future. Although I didn’t think about it at the time, I now see this as a primary force driving this story. My work with families, my personal experiences and core beliefs – all these things played on my conscious and subconscious mind, and ultimately emerged as this book. 

What is a day in your writing life like? Do you have a set schedule?

Ideally, I blog in the morning and either write or edit the novel I’m currently working on from early afternoon until dinnertime. This schedule doesn’t always work. During crunch time, when I’m busy editing and grading students’ papers, my own work falls by the wayside. For the last few months, marketing In Leah’s Wake, I’ve neglected Nowhere to Run, my novel-in-progress, and I’m eager to dig in again. Typically, when I’ve been away from my fiction, it takes a few weeks to catch up and establish a regular routine.
In the past, I insisted that students write every day. I now see rules as counterproductive. The right way to do anything is the way that works best for you. Life interferes with the best-laid plans. You can fight it or go with it. I try to go with it. That’s not to say I always succeed.

Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? Or maybe both?

Writing the first draft of In Leah’s Wake for my grad school thesis, I was a pantser. I had no idea where I was headed– in writing programs, organic writing is usually encouraged. In the revision process, I looked for and developed themes. In Leah’s Wake is character, rather than plot driven; tight plotting would have produced a different book. For all of us, I think it’s helpful to have clear goals. The intent of genre fiction is to entertain; plotting helps maintain action and pace. For literary fiction, the goal is to develop and understand character. With In Leah’s Wake, I hope I’ve done that. I’m not saying we can’t break rules –write character-driven genre novels or plot lit-fiction. There are conventions. If we flout rules, we should be prepared for the consequences, which may mean losing readers.

My novel-in-progress, Nowhere to Run, is a psychological thriller, so I’m approaching this one differently. I’ve mapped out a partial plot and I’m using the points as markers, while writing organically. While I recognize the benefits of plotting, sticking too closely to plot feels limiting. Allowing myself some degree of freedom opens my mind to new ideas and possibilities. It also makes the writing a messier, longer and more painstaking process. At least that’s been my experience. While I lean toward pantsing, I now do some of both.
Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?

Families fascinate me. While my stories differ—my novel-in-progress is a psychological thriller with a historical twist—they always tie back to the family, the ways we love, yet often hurt one another, the grief, the sorrow, the revelation, the joy. I think people connect with these stories. Many readers – family, friends, reviewers, readers I’ve never met - have told me that In Leah’s Wake feels real, the problems complex. They’ve been there – as a parent or a teen. They feel like they know these characters, and they care about them. This connection, for me, is by far the most important reason for writing.

Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?

I blog about writing, writing tips and inspiration, with occasional musings thrown in: Interested readers can find information about the book on my main site: I’m also active on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads:


Desert Island quiz: you can only bring one album, one DVD set for your favorite TV show, and one movie. What are they?

Tough question! Storyville, by Robbie Robertson, and Enlightenment, by Van Morrison. Cheating, I know – both recordings transport me. I couldn’t bear to leave either behind.

Although I don’t watch much TV, I’m hooked on Criminal Minds - especially the episodes edited by my immensely talented friend, indie filmmaker Nina Gilberti. If I could put together a custom DVD with all her episodes, I’d insist upon taking that.

My film list constantly changes. If I had to narrow to 2011, I’d choose Winter’s Bone.

Who are your favorite authors in your primary genre?

The short story writer Andre Dubus wrote some of the most thoughtful, moving stories I’ve ever read. Although my work pales in comparison, his stories influenced mine. Jessica Treadway, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for her latest collection, Please Come Back To Me, writes haunting, stunningly gorgeous family stories. Primarily short story writers, both, in my mind, are grossly under-appreciated. Most readers I talk with don’t know who they are. That’s the business, unfortunately; still, it feels terribly wrong that such brilliant work reaches the hands of so few readers.

Although I didn’t care for Amy and Isabelle, her first novel, Elizabeth Strout hooked me with Abide With Me and Olive Kitteridge. I also love Susan Straight’s elegant work.

Do you have a favorite charity? How does it appeal to you?

The scholarship fund for the Woods College of Advancing Studies endows worthy nontraditional Boston College students. I married shortly after graduating high school. When I decided to return to school, the dean, the Rev. James A. Woods, S.J., welcomed me with open arms, supported, encouraged and mentored me – through college and grad school, and for the 15 years I’ve taught in the program.

To say the school changed my life is a gross understatement. My Boston College career shaped my philosophy, and made me the person I am. As a teacher, I’ve been blessed to witness a similar transformation in so many people. Students come to class, often after a full day of work. They’re juggling so many responsibilities and they’re often exhausted, but when class begins, you see the light in their eyes. They work hard and push beyond boundaries to achieve. Witnessing these life-changing moments is incredibly rewarding.
Without the scholarship, especially in this economy, many students would not have the opportunity to attend. I received this scholarship myself once, so I know how important it can be. As I’m sure you can imagine, the WCAS scholarship fund is dear to my heart.

Who do you like in the next World Series?

The Red Sox! No self-respecting Bostonian would root for anyone else. All over the country, whenever the Sox play in town, Red Sox fans fill the stadium. We’re rabid, and not always nice - though we haven’t trampled anyone, as far as I know. This year, in Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, we have three ace pitchers. The current pitchers are young and less experienced than Schilling, Martinez and Lowe were in 2004, but they’re an impressive trio. It’s early, but five guys are hitting over .290. So I have hope!

Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows better than anything else can. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a writing instructor at Boston College. She blogs about writing and the writing life at Or connect on Twitter: @tglong







Terri Giuliano Long

Pages: 352

Format: Paperback, Kindle

ISBN: 1456310542

Publisher: CreateSpace

Website: In Leah’s Wake


Amazon Kindle:

Barnes & Nobles Nook:

Amazon UK:

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