Today we welcome novelist Ann Garvin, an Easterner who lives in the Midwest and a fiction writer who makes a living as a scientist and educator. While working as a nurse, she completed her PhD in exercise psychology. Decades of teaching health and studying what makes people tick proved a perfect backdrop for her novels, On Maggie’s Watch (Berkley/Penguin 2010) and The Dog Year (June 2014/Berkley Penguin). Her teaching position as an adjunct in the Master of Fine Arts program at Southern New Hampshire University allows her to marry her love of people and story.
Her latest novel, The Dog Year (coming from Berkley Penguin in June 2014) is the story of a woman, a dog, and two secrets that both break her and save her. Lucy Peterman, a breast reconstructive surgeon, had everything, lost everything, and now wants to shoplift the rest, including the hope of life after the death of her husband.
Ann took our Deb interview, and has offered to send an advance copy of The Dog Year to one lucky commenter. Details at the end of this post. Welcome, Ann! Thanks for visiting today!
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about you.
I love stories of survival. I love to wonder how I would do in a life or death situation. The plane crash, desert island, lost in a car in the snow, on a raft in the ocean. It’s a total fascination of mine, that battle with few resources and your wits. Let me be clear, I’m fascinated from afar, I like to wonder about it while drinking coffee in my robe. I’m not that person who puts myself in those positions but I do wonder, If I was on a raft in the ocean with only a chip clip and a tube of chap stick, could I survive?
When I was younger and L.L.Bean was a real outfitter magazine, I would scan it’s pages. There were these tins of supplies you could buy—mini adventure survival kits—and they listed the ingredients within. A piece of foil, a needle, twine, a reflective blanket, a tiny compass, a razor blade. I had no idea what I would do if I had to survive with this tiny tin, and I had no interest in reading about how to use the kit. I wanted to riddle it in my own mind. I wanted to think, what could I do with the three wicks that were provided? Could I ration them appropriately or would I panic and burn them in fear? Would I save the day or pee my pants? That’s what I want to know.
What time of day do you love best?
This is easy. I Iove 5 AM. It’s dark, everyone who’s anyone is asleep. It feels like stolen time. Like it doesn’t count. I get a huge cup of coffee and write. It’s just the dogs and me and my computer. I actually get irritated if someone gets up and joins me.
Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
Physical embarrassment no matter who or what it is. After someone has gone through whatever it was and there is a story involved, I think I empathize so much, and feel their embarrassment so acutely that I laugh an almost hysterical laugh. The kind of laughing that happens when you fear you might not be able to stop laughing; you’re in a public place, and people will only put up with so much of another person’s good time (see photo at right). Recently my good friend told me the story of eating too much fat-free ice cream. (It has maltose, an artificial sweetener that if consumed in large quantities really cleans you out—and not in a good way.) She told me about getting hit with the urge in a public place, how she had to get home and then literally crawl to the bathroom. The vision of this dignified friend, a friend who has more polish and old-world panache than I own in my pinky, done in by ice cream made me laugh so hard in such sympathetic pain that my kids took pictures.
Which talent do you wish you had.
This is going to sound silly considering the high brow talents available to me—painting, music, poetry. But, I wish I was a better runner. The kind of runner who wakes up and effortlessly pounds out five miles without the sort of self-talk and bargaining that goes into my runs. I’m an exercise physiologist by education and I teach exercise, nutrition and health every single day, yet running is as painful to me as public speaking is to most other people. Oh, to run like a gazelle, to not be embarrassed for my students to see me run, to feel like running was food and not medicine. Ah, a girl can dream.
What is making me happy right now.
Coffee. I don’t say this lightly. Every day the newspaper has more bad news about food. Plastic in Subway sandwiches bread, ecoli in the spinach, pink slime in our burgers. Thank goodness coffee is still considered good for you, filled with anti-oxidants and a little pick me up called caffeine. Thank goodness.
What makes you laugh? And what is it about other people’s embarrassment anyhow?
GIVEAWAY! Comment on this post by noon EST on Friday, March 14, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of The Dog Year. International entries welcome. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!