Friday, June 12, 2015

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

Q &A with Kathryn Craft
1. Your book is a perfect choice for book clubs because it raises questions for discussion and in-depth conversation. What book have you read that you couldn't wait to talk about with someone?

Thank you. I am drawn to both writing and reading books that invite reader participation and incite reaction, because discussing books is one of my favorite ways to interact with people. I’ve felt that urgency to discuss, perhaps most recently with Gone Girl. Readers are deeply divided about this novel yet are never apathetic! I love the way Gillian Flynn created unlikable characters that kept us guessing, yet still offered up so much truth about human nature. And about myself—it was unsettling. My copy is heavily underlined.

2. This book provides an honest portrayal of what happens daily in many women's lives. What part of the writing process was the most difficult for you?

One part felt difficult to the point of dangerous: In the seventeen years since his suicide, for the first time, I opened my wedding album and allowed myself to remember how much I loved my husband. The story needed to show the near end of happy, even if doing so deepened my sense of tragedy and loss. It was easier to stay angry. But just as the human body is designed to heal and the heart is made to love, the human psyche is meant to adapt. The change isn’t easy, and finishing the novel pushed me into a new phase of grieving. But remembering love is so important, and may well have been the final part of my healing journey.

3. What is one piece of advice about life that has stuck with you and that you pass on to others?

It’s so simple I made a hashtag and a Twitter movement out of it: #choosethisday. Every day we get out of bed and go about our daily business, we are choosing this day to live our lives. It wasn’t until my husband chose not to that I realized this and it is so empowering. Give yourself credit for showing up. And now that you realize the precious minutes of this day were yours to choose—what will you do with them? I love reading about what makes people come alive with this hashtag on Twitter. We can use more positive messages. Every step you take, large or small, is a choice that counts in the book of your life. Live a great story.

4. I'm inspired by your courage to write what many authors shy away from. Are there any authors who inspire you with their writing?

Thank you so much. Once you’ve lost someone to suicide, you realize how harmful it is to guard “the unspeakable.” We need to share our humanity with one another, warts and all. Some who are masters at bringing flawed characters to life on the page, and who inspire me to do so as well, are Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Khaled Hosseini, and Anna Quindlen.

5. Are there any books you've recently read that you have loved and can recommend to readers? 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh were both novels where I got to the halfway point and then had to keep reading in one sitting just to relieve the knots in my gut. And believe me, that’s tough these days—I don’t have half-days available for sitting around and reading! But both authors were able to create in me that deep need for resolution.

Ronnie's husband, Jeff, is supposed to move out today. But when he pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned. The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage—and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie's fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family's lives depend on the choices she will make—but is what's best for her best for everyone? 

Based on a real event from the author's life, The Far End of Happy is a chilling story of one troubled man, the family that loves him, and the suicide standoff that will change all of them forever.

Kathryn Craft is the author of The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania literary scene, she loves any event that brings together readers, books, food and drink, and mentors other writers through workshops and writing retreats. A former dance critic, she has a bachelor’s in biology education and a master’s in health and physical education from Miami University in Ohio. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and spends her summers lakeside in northern New York State.

Connect with Kathryn on social media:
Twitter: @kcraftwriter

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