Friday, March 4, 2016

Interview with Jessica Treadway, Author of Lacy Eye

Please join me in welcoming author Jessica Treadway to A Literary Vacation today! Her novel, Lacy Eye, is a psychological thriller about a mother who begins to learn her daughter might not be who she thought she way and it sounds really good. Jessica's stopped by today to answer some questions and I hope you enjoy!

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and answer some questions! To get us started, can you tell us a little bit about Lacy Eye?
Sure, and thanks for inviting me. The novel is about a mother who wants most desperately not to believe what her intuition tells her about one of her daughters, and about that daughter’s involvement in a fatal family crime. I wrote it because I was fascinated by a real-life case in my hometown, in upstate New York, in which the mother of a son accused of murdering his father, and trying to murder her, became the son’s steadfast defender even after he was convicted. I was interested in exploring what went on in my character’s mind – the choices she might be forced to make between two competing values: the truth, and what she would prefer to be the truth.

The idea of memory and the tricks it can play on a person has always fascinated me. The slow release of memories can also create quite a bit of delicious tension in a story. What drew you to include this aspect in your story?

I knew that as in the real case, the mother in my novel, Hanna, would have suffered cognitive injuries in the attack that affected her memory. It was important for me to include this because it allowed her a natural “out” when it came to decide whether she would trust what she thought she remembered, or not. But in the end, it was also important to me that she be able to distinguish where those deficits ended and the strength of her character began, if that makes sense. I see her as a woman who is asked by circumstances to show how courageous she can be, despite her fear that she can’t live up to what’s expected of her.

The child/parent relationship and the excuses, allowances and sometimes even lies one might say or think to protect or reconcile with the other is another theme I love. As a parent I can completely see how it would be nearly impossible to imagine that my child could have anything to do with something as heinous as happens to the parents in Lacy Eye. Is there anything in particular that lead you to include this aspect?
Only my own fascination with this theme, which I share with you! It’s hard for me to imagine anything more difficult than accepting that a child you’ve invested so much in, and love so much, could be responsible for an act you can’t imagine anyone committing, let alone that child. But obviously the real-life case that inspired my novel is not a singular occurrence. I’ll be interested to read Sue Klebold’s new memoir, A Mother’s Reckoning, because it seems to me that she must be struggling with very similar feelings to those of my narrator, though their situations are somewhat different in that Hanna’s child is still living.

Clearly there are some dark themes running through the story. Did you have to conduct any sort of research when writing it? What sort of writing process did you go through?

Mainly, I just did my best to imagine my way into Hanna’s internal landscape. I did do some research on sociopathy, for the character of the daughter Dawn’s boyfriend. Other than that, I just felt my way along rather slowly; this book went through many drafts before the final version.

What does a typical day (if there is one) look like for you? How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

I’m a professor of creative writing, so on the days I’m teaching, I get little if any writing done. But on other days I try to immerse myself as much as possible in whatever I’m writing, for intervals of about 45 minutes or so. I use a timer, and try to accumulate multiple intervals during a day. I found I was amazed at how much I could get done in a relatively short time, if I wasn’t interrupting myself for emails and the demands of everyday life.
A lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?
I think it’s great for the people who do use social media in that way, though I tend to be somewhat more reserved – promoting myself, or my work, doesn’t come very naturally to me (though I do it as much as I feel comfortable with). I’m always very happy to receive emails from readers via my website, and to hear their experience of my work.
Are you working on any other books that we can look forward to reading in the future?

Thanks for asking! I’ve just finished another novel, called How Will I Know You? It’s scheduled to be published in December. 

To close out, I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?

Although I do like reading non-fiction, I tend to read contemporary fiction more than anything. One of my favorite new novels is Suzanne Berne’s The Dogs of Littlefield, which I enjoyed very much, and I also liked Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, as well as an older one by Siri Hustvedt called What I Loved. Earlier in the year I reread a couple of favorites: Continental Drift by Russell Banks and The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle, because I loved what both of those books did with the omniscient narrative.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016
Pages: 368
ISBN: 1455554081 / 9781455554089

A haunting, evocative novel about a woman who might have to face the disturbing truth about her own daughter.

Hanna and Joe send their awkward daughter Dawn off to college hoping that she will finally "come into her own." When she brings her new boyfriend, Rud, to her sister's wedding, her parents try to suppress their troubling impressions of him for Dawn's sake. Not long after, Hanna and Joe suffer a savage attack at home, resulting in Joe's death and Hanna's severe injury and memory loss.

Rud is convicted of the crime, and the community speculates that Dawn may also have been involved. When Rud wins an appeal and Dawn returns to live in the family home, Hanna resolves to recall that traumatic night so she can testify in the retrial, exonerate her daughter, and keep her husband's murderer in jail.

But as those memories resurface, Hanna faces the question of whether she knows her own daughter-and whether she ever did.

Praise for Lacy Eye

"Deftly plotted... Treadway paints a devastating portrait of a family torn apart from both the outside and within." — Publisher’s Weekly

"It's been a long time since I've read a novel at once this gripping, and this wise, and psychologically complex. As a portrait of motherhood, and an exploration of the limits of knowledge--of others, of one's self--LACY EYE probes, devastates, and informs." — Elizabeth Graver, author of The End of the Point

"An intricately plotted psychological thriller." — The Chicago Tribune

"Perhaps there's always something inexplicable about evil but at the heart of Jessica Treadway's new novel is a woman who is determined not to explain it at almost any cost. I defy anyone to read these beautifully written, brilliantly observed pages without becoming deeply involved in Hanna's life and her choices. LACY EYE is a wonderful, and deeply suspenseful novel." — Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

"Since her debut story collection 'Absent Without Leave,' came out in 1992, Jessica Treadway has wowed critics with resonant depictions of flawed, all-too-human characters." — The Boston Globe

"Quietly disturbing...nail-bitingly suspenseful." — The Columbus Dispatch

"Complex and author to watch." — Reviewing the Evidence

"Treadway is a deft hand at crafting complex mysteries...asks provocative questions." — The Reading Nook

Buy Lacy Eye 


About the Author

Jessica Treadway's story collection Please Come Back to Me received the Flannery O'Connor Award

Learn more about Jessica on her website.
for Short Fiction. She is also the author of And Give You Peace, which was named as one of Booklist 's Top 10 Debut Novels of the Year, and the collection Absent Without Leave and Other Stories. Her stories have appeared in the Atlantic, Hudson Review, Ploughshares, and Five Points, among other literary journals. A professor at Emerson College in Boston, she lives with her husband in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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