Today, I’m going to share an audio sample of the book, Fly Away, as well as a Q & A with author Kristin Hannah.
The paperback of Fly Away was just released on March 25, 2014.
Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than thirty years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever. But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on. . . .
Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate–to be there for Kate’s children–but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.
Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her . . . until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.
Dorothy Hart–the woman who once called herself Cloud–is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.
A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need one another–and maybe a miracle–to transform their lives.
An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness.
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with Kristin Hannah
When it was first published, you described Firefly Lane as the book that hit closest to home for you. What is it about the story of Kate and Tully that continues to be so meaningful to you?
Of all the books I’ve written, Firefly Lane has the most of me on every page. I grew up in the town where the novel is set; I lived in the house that was described. I was very much of that era. I went to the University of Washington, and got the same degree as Kate and Tully did. The world of Firefly Lane is very much my world. Also, I lost my own mom to breast cancer. That’s a very personal story that I wanted to tell. Writing Firefly Lane was my way of looking back on the loss of my mom and understanding it as a woman. Additionally, I wanted to give readers some information about what to look for with breast cancer that maybe they didn’t know. So the book has a really important and personal message for me, too.
You seem unafraid to make your characters suffer. Is that hard for you? Do you suffer along with them?
Actually, I love to put my characters in really difficult positions. In writing about women in the worst years in their lives, I allow my characters to really discover who they are at their core. I guess when it’s all said and done, I believe in the power of transformation. I believe that hard times both shape us and reveal us. It’s a stressful and dangerous world out there, and we women try to do so much. So much of fiction—and the nightly news—focuses on the negative situations that exist around us. I guess it feels important to me to remind people that optimism matters and effort can be rewarded. We can survive really difficult times—and not just survive but ultimately triumph. My books tend to be about women coming into their own and triumphing and living their best lives.
Do you ever miss your characters after you’ve finished writing about them?
It takes me between a year and two years to write a novel, with fourteen months being about average. Over the course of it, I do a lot of prep work—and a lot of drafts. So, by the time I get to the end of a novel, I really feel like I’ve created the best version of the story, and the best characters within that framework. Once I’ve done what I set out to do, I am ready to move on to something else. Firefly Lane is the one exception. That’s why it’s the only follow-up novel I’ve ever done. Because I did keep Tully and Cloud, in particular, in my head. And I really wanted to know what happened to them after the loss of Kate.
Is it hard for you when a character you’ve created dies?
It’s harder for me to write the emotional reaction scenes. In other words, it was harder to write about Kate’s death from Tully’s perspective or Marah’s than from Kate’s. Because, frankly, nobody ever accidentally dies in my books; I know from the beginning who’s going to live and who’s going to die. So I am guarding against that emotion. But I’m often surprised, after the book is done and I read it, that it can be really emotional for me—although it’s never the death than catches me off guard, it’s the little moments that get me. In Fly Away, it was Kate thinking about her sons—just sentences really, but they hit home.
Is there anything you’ve always wished a reader would ask you? What is that question—and how would you answer it?
Yes! I wish one reader one day would ask me to please write more slowly. Because what I get constantly is:” “Can’t you write any faster?”
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