We’re so excited to have the lovely and talented Kyran Pittman joining us to try on her tiara today!
Kyran Pittman is a Contributing Writer for Good Housekeeping. Originally from the island of Newfoundland, she now lives in Arkansas with her husband, Patrick, and their three sons. Her memoir, Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life, is available now from Riverhead Books.
Kyran Pittman Takes the Deb Interview
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
So many; but since my book is a memoir of family life, I’ll go with Jean Kerr’s wonderful Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. I read it for the first time when I was ten or twelve, having probably pilfered it from one of my grandmothers’ shelves on a rainy summer day. Kerr was funny, smart and cultured, and she wrote about domesticity with a voice that was both wonderfully wry and tender. As if the joke was on her, to be raising four kids in post-war suburbia. She managed to be both subversive and immersive.
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
I have a soft spot for poor old Newland Archer, from the Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. He’s someone who’s caught between a deep regard for convention and the yearning to break out. Every time I read that book, I’m rooting for him to follow his bliss with the Countess Olenska. Yet I totally understand the gravitational force of tradition, society, and security. I suppose his appeal is part scheudenfraude: there but for grace, I go.
Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
People have started reporting to me whenever dandelions pop up in their yards, as if I planted them there. I’m feeling pretty clever to have picked a book marketing strategy that’s self-seeding.
Where do you love to be?
Believe it or not, in the car with my husband and our children. I love the close quarters; the sense of being castaways on our own private island. A few years ago, we drove from Arkansas to Newfoundland–seven days each way. To some, I’m sure a solid week in a minivan with three kids sounds like the seventh circle of hell. But I was in heaven.
Which talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could play an instrument. Musicians were frequent guests in my childhood home in Newfoundland. I spent many nights sitting at the top of the stairs past bedtime, listening to the music of a fiddle or tin whistle. I would love to recreate that experience for my own children, but I have no patience for the repetition of practice.
Planting Dandelions is a memoir about a free spirit putting down roots. Spanning twelve years in eighteen linked essays, Pittman writes passionately and honestly about what it means to belong to a family, and still remain true to one’s self. With equal measures of humor and soul, Planting Dandelions celebrates the richness of so-called ordinary life, from the absurd moments to the profound.
Deb Eleanor and Kyran did a panel together at the Arkansas Literary Festival, so we can vouch that both Kyran and her memoir are wonderful – if you’d like to win a copy (US & Canada), leave a comment here!
When our new class of Debs started getting to know each other last summer, one of the first things I learned about Sarah Jio is that she’s from the Pacific Northwest.
I’m a third generation Oregonian, so I was delighted to have someone else who knows the secret Pacific Northwest handshake (though Sarah seemed taken aback by the butt-pat. Do they not do that part in Seattle?)
I wondered at the time whether the Pacific Northwest setting might play in Sarah’s novel and whether I could count on seeing some familiar landscapes in THE VIOLETS OF MARCH. Not only did I see them, but heard them, felt them, smelled them, and tasted them.
The setting in this novel is so vivid, so sensuous, that it’s like a character all its own. While the romance and mystery elements of the story were brilliantly woven and the characters were lovely and complex, it was the setting that truly won my heart.
Even if you aren’t a Pacific Northwest native, Sarah does such an amazing job capturing the gorgeous nuances of the region that you’ll feel yourself transported to Bainbridge Island. You’ll see the rows of wine bottles lined up in the quaint grocery store. You’ll smell the salty sea air. You’ll hear the gulls squawking. You’ll taste every morsel of every delicious meal. You’ll feel the sand between your toes and the soft texture of the red velvet diary between your fingers.
Have you ever read a story that so perfectly captured a setting you felt like you were there? Whether you have or haven’t, I highly recommend THE VIOLETS OF MARCH to give you that experience.
Consider it the least expensive – and most gratifying – vacation you’ll ever have.
Hello lovelies! I am reporting in from a very exciting debut week (and, a big thanks to all my fellow Debs for cheering me on this week). I’m spinning from all the excitement of being a published author for exactly three days now (I’m such an old pro at this author thing now, you know!). There have been so many things happening on the book front, I found myself a little crazed this week—in a go0d way (though I’m pretty sure the lack of sleep thing is going to catch up to me in a bad way before too long.) News to share:
*Violets was chosen by Redbook magazine as a May book pick, and the editors called it “engrossing”!
*I survived my first round of industry reviews–with positive write-ups in Library Journal (with a comp to The Postmistress (swoon), and Publisher’s Weekly.
*I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw that Violets was chosen as a Book Buyer Pick by Costco, and featured in their Costco Connection magazine. You have to read the lovely things they said here.
*My husband’s hometown paper interviewed me for a front-page story, which, of course, made him the talk of the town! And my mom got interviewed by my hometown paper, which she thought was pretty cool. (Turns out, my dad’s old bus driver read the story and called my aunt to buzz about it! Don’t you love small towns?)
*I sold Spanish rights to Violets. (How do you say hooray in Spanish?!)
*The great country of Canada put in a big order for the book recently, so my dear friends up north can soon pick up the book at their local bookstores.
*Violets sold out at several book stores on its debut day!
*I have loved, loved, loved the thoughtful reviews that are coming out in newspapers and across the book blogs. This has been less frightening than I thought, and I’ve made many new friends across the blogs. I’m so grateful for everyone’s reading time!
Thank you so much for cheering me on! So far, I’m still standing. xo, Sarah
It’s here! It’s here! Not many of us can have TWO babies in just four months – but our Deb Sarah had a beautiful boy named Colby this winter and now please join us as we welcome her debut novel The Violets of March. Congratulations, Sarah. And while Sarah’s baby keeps HER up at night, her book will keep YOU up, as you will not want to put it down, I promise you. If you’ve ever been in love, lost in love, thought love was long gone, or that love was no longer an option for you, whether young or old, The Violets of March will open your eyes and your heart to new possibilites from unexpected places. The best part of being a Deb at The Deb Ball is reading each other’s books before they debut. It’s great fun to share in the excitement and butterflies in the stomach trepidation of debut week. Please do visit Sarah’s site (HERE) and choose your favorite retailer. The Violets of March willl make a lovely Mother’s day gift for all the special women in your life. KIM
What you’ll love about Deb Sarah’s The Violets of March!
The Setting – Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Even if you’ve never been to Bainbridge Island (confession – neither have I!) you’ll feel like you have after reading this book. The ferries, the chilly coastline, the seafood restaurants, the houses…they all feel beautifully real in Sarah’s book!
The Mystery - who are Esther and Elliott?
When Emily finds the diary in her great-aunt’s house, she immediately cannot stop reading the tale of Esther and Elliott, and everyone around her is oddly cagey about who they are and why she is the one who was meant to find it. I found myself reading so quickly because I wanted to discover the secrets myself!
You’ve known Sarah long enough to know that though she’s ridiculously healthy, she’s also a total foodie, and Violets of March does not disappoint. I am not a seafood fan, but I still found my mouth watering at the idea of clam chowder on the ferry, or asparagus prepared by one very charming islander (confession: I was also somewhat hungry while reading the book). (The picture is of something called “Blackberry Slump” from the Four Swallows restaurant on Bainbridge Island. Now you really want to go, don’t you?)
The Love Stories
I grew up reading romance novels, and am a sucker for a good love story – and Sarah’s been kind enough to provide us with two! They’re both tricky and complex and give you lots of opportunity to wrestle with what the right path for the characters is, and I’ll admit I was torn in quite a few places. If you’re anti-sap, don’t worry – they’re human and complex and real and absolutely made the book for me.
I purposely haven’t revealed too much of the plot here, so if you haven’t already, skedaddle yourself over to Sarah’s site for more details (and her gorgeous trailer)!
It’s been several months already since I had the extreme pleasure of reading Deb Sarah’s beautiful debut, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, but I still can’t think about it without heaving a satisfied sigh and smiling.
(Tawna, I know what you’re thinking. Different genre. Though the men Sarah gives us in this book are seriously dreamy…)
Sarah had me hooked very early. Emily, VIOLETS’ main character, is in her apartment having a conversation with a man, and says, “…it was difficult to look in those dark brown eyes knowing the man I married was leaving me, for someone else.”
It’s so simple; yet that matter of fact tone walloped me with the agony of what Emily really felt — the disbelief and torture of losing your whole world. The moment’s impact was so huge for me that I raced to write it down… then the novel got even better from there.
I’ll let the book’s Amazon.com page give you the official summary (and a great spot to buy the book!), but the gist is that with Emily’s life in shatters, she accepts an invitation from her Aunt Bee to visit Bainbridge Island and get away from it all. Though her plan is to figure out her own life, things take a different turn when she finds a journal from the 1940′s. Its pages reveal a love story wrapped in a mystery, and Emily is enthralled. She’s driven to unravel the diary’s secrets, and is stunned both by where the journey takes her, and how much it affects her own personal crossroads.
There are many things I love about Sarah’s book. I love the pitch-perfect interplay between her characters. The relationships of both Emily and her best friend Annabelle, and Aunt Bee and her best friend Evelyn feel absolutely real, and showcase the power of deep bonds between women. I love the ease with which Emily slips back into Aunt Bee’s daily life after so many years, and the way the two often know exactly what the other one needs without it being said. I love how Sarah metes out the journal entries in brilliantly measured portions that leave us partially satisfied… yet as hungry for more as Emily herself.
Yet more than anything, I love the way Sarah brings Bainbridge Island to life.
I’ve never been to Bainbridge Island. I don’t know if its reality is anything like the timeless idyll of Sarah’s book. Despite what I say in the title for this post, I actually don’t think I want to go, because I’m not sure the reality could ever live up to how stunning it is in VIOLETS. I have read few books with a sense of place as strong as this one. Sarah’s Bainbridge Island wraps its visitors like a cozy afghan. As readers, we rediscover the Island along with Emily, and it’s heavenly. This is a place where everyone knows everyone else; where high school lovers’ initials remain carved in trees for generations; and where the best path between two houses is a stroll along the sandy beach. Sure, Bainbridge Island has its journal-locked secrets, but that never takes away from its sense of comfort and peace.
In the book, Sarah talks about the Island “calling to” people. It certainly called to me, and I’m thrilled I get to answer that call again and again, by diving back into the pages of this gorgeous book.
Congratulations on your Debut Week, Sarah!!!! I know great things are ahead for you and VIOLETS, and I’m so happy and excited for you!!!!
Deb Eleanor is at Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet, VA (near Charlottesville) this Thursday at 6 pm. Come say hello! And if you’re reading this early Sunday morning, tune in to the Today Show for John Searles’ spring book picks. I have it on good authority there’s a little Deb surprise in there for ya!
Deb Tawna is currently doing line-edits for her August debut. Seeing the manuscript laid out as an actual book (as opposed to a mere Word document) is both thrilling and terrifying.
Deb Kim has a new wrting gig! I was invited to write for MSNBC’s MomsTODAY group site. My first post about the texting bus driver is HERE.
Deb Dish — In Honor of the Easter Bunny… any Close Encounters with Costumed Characters (in the mall or elsewhere)?
Forgive me if I’ve told this story before — I can’t remember — but at my first Walt Disney World Marathon, I was so excited that I ran as fast as I could… which is not very fast, but for me it was speedy. I heard two gazelle-legged guys chatting to one another as they ran beside me, “This is great — we’re starting out at an easy nine-minute mile.”
There’s no such thing as an “easy nine-minute mile” for me. If’ I’m running a nine-minute mile, I’m pushing it. But on that day, it felt like flying. I didn’t dream of stopping.
By mile 14 I was walking… with a limp.
By mile 17 a guy on crutches passed me.
But the kicker was Mile 20, when a very excited Donald Duck appeared on the sidelines, eagerly rooting for me (with body language, of course) to go-go-go!!!!
I cursed him out. It seemed appropriate at the time.
At the end of a truly exhausting and stressful week, I was spending the weekend at a resort near Universal Studios in Orlando. I dragged myself to the elevator, wanting nothing more than to head to bed. When the doors opened, I was greeted by none other than Woody Woodpecker. Woody gave kind of a half-hearted wave, and his two handlers sheepishly moved to the side so we could get in the elevator.
“You know what?” I asked. “This is actually not the weirdest thing that has happened to me this week.”
My neighbor has these shiny blue tights that he wears at night in his living room window while he… Wait. I was channeling Tawna. Well, if I think back, visiting the Easter Bunny at London’s Department Store in Attleboro, Mass was my favorite holiday treat as a child. And I had a great Easter bunny costume that I wore in 3rd grade to deliver baskets to my friends in the neighborhood. Happy Easter and Passover!
Thank heavens, none for me! I do not like men in bunny costumes.
When I was two, my dad took me to see a furry, costumed creature called Cinnamon Bear. He was a fixture at a local department store at Christmas as an alternative to the countless Santa Clauses. The line to see Cinnamon Bear stretched across the entire store, so my dad and I settled in for a long wait. After 20 minutes, a friend of my dad’s strolled past and stopped to say hello. My dad took his eyes off me for only a few seconds, but that was all I needed to make my escape. When he looked down, I was gone. Frantic, my father began scouring the store calling my name and peering under clothes racks. As it turned out, he didn’t have to look far. I had crawled through the endless maze of legs in line and found my way into Cinnamon Bear’s lap.
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