A big THANK YOU to Terri Giuliano Long for joining me on the blog today!
Message from Terri: Thank you so very much for hosting me, Autumn! It’s an honor to be here today!
What books have most influenced your life?
When I was a child, my mother read to us every day. The fairytales, stories by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, transported me. As my mom read, an imaginary door opened to an enchanted parallel universe and I became the characters, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. The Little Match Girl on the winter street, looking in the window at the holiday feast, the blazing fire, lighting matches to warm my frozen fingers.
Around age five, I began to tell my own stories. I’d spend hours alone in my sunny attic bedroom. The sounds of summer drifted in through the open window, the kids playing hide and seek, laughing, calling each other. Stickball - the crack of a baseball bat, squealing, the kids cheering the runner around the bases. I would be sprawled on the floor, drawing outfits for my paper dolls, creating characters, giving them names, and telling their stories.
As I grew older, the stories I listened to as a child took on new meaning. Stories give me joy and stories comfort and nourish me. At night, stories lull me to sleep. Telling stories has become my life’s work. I tell stories in the hope of reaching and giving to others. It all began with the fairytales I listened to when I was a very small child.
What is the first book you remember reading by yourself?
I’ve always been an avid reader; as a child, I spent many hours reading. The first book I remember reading is King Author and the Knights of the Round Table. When I was twelve or thirteen, I read Exodus, a glorious book by Leon Uris, about the birth of the nation of Israel. It was, to my mind, the first truly important book I ever read.
What are you reading right now?
Our travel schedule over the last year has been hectic, so I haven’t had much time to read. I’m currently trying to catch up on the wonderful work of my indie author friends. Out of Breath, a brilliant and poignant novel by Susan Salluce, is on my Kindle now. Next: The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge by the talented Christine Nolfi, Dead Case in Deadwood by gifted writer Ann Charles, Sister Issues by the terrific writer Cynthia Harrison, and Blue Straggler, a debut by Kathy Lynn Harris.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love spending time with my family, doing pretty much anything. One of our daughters lives in the D.C. area – I love going to the zoo and the museums. In our spare time, my husband, Dave, and I love to travel. We were in China in 2008, a few months before the Olympics. Seeing – and climbing – the Great Wall was an inexperience I’d dreamed of for many years. Often the anticipation of a place or event is greater than the actuality. Not true of the Wall. Built by the First Emperor of China, 220 – 206 BC, the wall, including trenches and other barriers, is estimated to be 5500 miles long. Seeing the immensity of that Wall – from the towers, you can see it for miles and miles - you can’t help but be awed by the breath-taking power of humankind.
What do you think makes a good story?
As I’ve said, I love fairytales. The stories spring to life in your imagination and transport you to faraway places. They also sneak up on you. You think they’re about the prince and the princess or the children. They are, of course, but they’re also about life. They teach important lessons – what it means to be honest and giving, to be a good person. Fairytales are a model for great stories. I admire stories with a vision – that provide insight into our lives and our struggles and that invite philosophical questions.
Who would you consider your favorite author and why?
The short story writer Andre Dubus wrote 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 authors are, in my mind, 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 beautiful work reaches the hands of so few readers. I also love Susan Straight’s elegant work. These authors use language brilliantly, though simply. The language provides a window into poignantly drawn worlds that are meaningful and philosophically rich.
What book, if any, do you read over and over again?
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. This powerful, masterfully written novel drops us into a dismal, post-apocalyptic world, where humans are reduced to animal instinct; for inhabitants of this world, murder and cannibalism are a means of survival.
Within this brutal environment, McCarthy gives us an elegantly rendered father and son. Traveling the road, starving, the man and his son face excruciating hardships, which they meet with dignity and grace. Dying, the man says to his son: "You have my whole heart. You always did.” That line has stayed with me – as have so many other stark, tender moments.
Terri: Thank you again, Autumn! Your generosity and support mean a lot to me. Thank you, readers, for giving me your time today!
Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent blog guest. A contributing writer for IndieReader, she’s written for news and feature articles for numerous publications, including IndieReader, the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah's Wake is her debut novel. For more information, please visit her website: www.tglong.com
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