From the Journal!
Writing an Epic Family Saga
(This post was written for the blog Book Country)
Every family is an epic. Even a single generation has so many stories tucked away that ten thousand pages would be required to tell them all. A family is the perfect proof of chaos theory – the one where a butterfly causes a blizzard in Florida or an airplane crash in the arctic. Your mother tickles you on your left foot while you snooze in your cradle and you develop an allergy to walking barefoot on grass in your middle age.
So… how do we go about this epic task of writing an epic family saga? One of the things I like best about writing is coming upon strange facts. Even when I’m working on fiction, there is research to be done; Locale. Weather. Trees and wildlife. History! And of course, clothes and habits. Writing THE PURCHASE was a special treat in this regard. The story is based on a few facts I knew about my grandfather’s grandfather, a Quaker abolitionist who became a slave owner in 1798. [Read More]
Turning Myself Into the Past
(This post was written for the blog Fresh Fiction for Today’s Readers)
My latest book, THE PURCHASE, is being called historical fiction. And I suppose it is.
But writing historical fiction is a mug’s game. Are we recreating the past, or creating it? While writing, I am imagining things that never happened, trying to make it seem like they did, like they were part of the actual pageant of history, like they make as much sense as the history we all learned in school, some of which was also a fiction. While writing, I am leaning backward from my 21st century chair and hoping to smell things that no longer even exist, to create medicines and foods and conversations I have never heard or seen or tasted.
So, I am turning myself into the past! I am becoming a way in which it can exist in the present. And if all events are with us forever, as causes and effects, then I am translating something from a language I’ve never heard. As I would translate the work of a stranger who speaks a language I don’t understand – a stranger who provides me with a dictionary. [Read More]
U.S. Book Reviews
The New York Journal of Books
Jeremy McGuire | Released: August 6, 2013
“It is said that a great work of art moves us on four levels: entertainment, instruction, inspiration and enlightenment. Rarely are all four found in one volume. The Purchase is one of those rarities.”
The Historical Novel Society
“Spalding’s writing is beautiful and her storytelling captivating.”
Historically, The Purchase is fascinating as it combines several different elements of the country’s unique background. Daniel’s world is as unfamiliar to him as it is to modern readers, but it is Ms. Spalding’s succinct descriptions that allow readers to adapt and learn about this unfamiliar setting and lifestyle.
Linda is interviewed by Maria Judnick. Mary is an online literary journal sponsored by Saint Mary’s College of California’s MFA Creative Writing program.
MJ: In the course of reading The Purchase, I was greatly intrigued by the female characters and the roles that they carved out for themselves in the midst of this male-dominated world as healers, teachers, or churners of “heavenly butter.”
Linda: I am fondest of Daniel. His was a difficult portrait – really the most challenging – but he seems very human to me. The women were easier because I think their lives were not so very different from my own grandmother’s.
Interview on KCRW Radio August 8, 2013
KCRW Radio, a community service of Santa Monica College, is Southern California’s leading National Public Radio affiliate.
Canadian Book Reviews
Linda Spalding’s newest novel, The Purchase, has been awarded the Governor General’s Literary Prize for Fiction
Governor General’s lit prize winners led by women
Women dominate the winner’s circle for the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Awards, with authors Linda Spalding and Susin Nielsen, and illustrator Isabelle Arsenault among this year’s English-language laureates.
The Canada Council for the Arts, which administers the annual literary honour, revealed this year’s recipients in Montreal on Tuesday morning.
Women won five of the seven English-language categories (and 10 of 14 categories overall).
The awards offer “not only a chance to honour our very best books, but it is also a chance to pay tribute to Canadians who are rising stars in the world of literature,” Gov. Gen. David Johnson said in a statement.
“I congratulate all the winners who have worked hard to add their tale to our collective memories.”
Vancouver author Susin Nielsen won for her children’s book The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. (Tundra Books/Random House)
Toronto’s Spalding earned the fiction prize for her book The Purchase, a historical tale looking back at the lives of slaves and slave owners that was inspired by stories from her ancestors, who were Quakers. The jury praised Spalding’s writing as “warm, dignified prose” in its citation.
“An historical novel about race, religion and family, Linda Spalding’s The Purchase is refreshingly free of retrospective judgment.”
Ancestor’s dark past revealed in The Purchase
Q: Tell us a bit about your book.
A: This is a story with many characters but the primary one is Daniel, a Quaker father who is disowned by his community when he takes a 15-year-old Methodist for his second wife. Daniel and his five children and new wife must leave Pennsylvania and find a new home.
Historical story impressively original, darkly rendered
“THE Purchase is a literary novel, in the sense it focuses on character, psychology and morality, as much as plot.
But it also has a fine, albeit slowly evolving, plot, wrapped in a darkly rendered gem of an historical story.”
Open Book: The Purchase, by Linda Spalding
“Linda Spalding’s novel The Purchase is as engrossing as it is partly because it is set in a time, the dawn of the 19th century, and a place, the frontier society of slave-owning Virginia, where bad judgment could very easily prove fatal.”
Linda Spalding’s haunting spin on the plantation novel