Recently I corresponded with Paullina Simons to ask her several questions and one was why she likes to write about depressing subjects. Why so much strife for her characters? Why must her characters suffer so much for their happy ending? Wait. I must check myself because in her books a happy ending is an uncertainty. If you’ve read The Bronze Horseman or Tatiana and Alexander or The Summer Garden, you’ll know what I mean about “strife.” There is always some human conflict. A bit of pain and a bit of suffering. All you care about by the journey’s end is that they are alive and whole in body and spirit. There might be some wear and tear along the way but at least they are alive. But then again these are not romances. However they have a compelling love story in them.
Here was her response to my question about writing such depressive topics:
I write about the human condition, which is multi-layered. Some of those layers are angst, strife, and suffering. Suffering is conflict, conflict is strife, strife is drama, drama makes good stories. Most fiction contains in it human conflict because without it, you just have people looking out the window, painting, watching TV, talking with friends, bike-riding maybe. That’s the kind of life I want, but I’m not sure I’d want to read a book like that.
Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies is nothing short of miraculous. It’s the only thing I’m recommending these days. That and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (talk about strife).
I did email her a second time to ask one, last, final question which was: what is The Bartered Bride all about? Will we have another emotional roller coaster journey? As of now I haven’t heard back from her but what I did find was a synopsis online that had this to say about her nineth novel:
This is the story of three girls just out of high school on a journey across America. It’s 1981 and Shelby Sloane gets a canary yellow Mustang convertible as a graduation present. She sets out on an odyssey to find her mother who left her many years earlier. When Shelby’s former best friend Gina asks to come along, Shelby reluctantly agrees. And so the two girls, who at eighteen think they know everything, are about to set out to find out how much they don’t know. The girls think the trip will last a week at most. This will be their first mistake. Some other things they don’t know: map skills; geography; God; gambling; how to deal with real terror; what it’s like to love. And as the trip continues in spurts and starts, they feel the stress of their past conflict and the secret heartbreaks between them – secrets that fill every empty space in the tiny Mustang. When they see a young woman hitchhiking on the side of a country road, they don’t want to pick her up. They turn their gaze away. But days later, they find her again. Candy, the Bartered Bride, gets in. She sucks them into her treacherous world and her own frightful journey, which is as far removed from theirs as the moons of Saturn are from Earth. The ride that began with high spirits and good humour proceeds into the darkest backroads of America, when Shelby, Candy and Gina are forced to make real moral choices that have critical consequences for their future, and by their ordeals they learn some of those things they did not know.
Well, does that sound like another emotional journey to you or what? The Bartered Bride is to be published by ANZ and will be released this November. Plus she is going on tour. Ms. Simons goes on to say that most of her books are being published in the US by Doubleday and Book of the Month bookclubs first and then by the trade publishers in the near future. Anyway, it’s good to see her books published in the United States. Many of us after reading The Bronze Horseman had to order the sequel from the UK as well as the third and last entry in the trilogy, The Summer Garden. However first two are now available to purchase at Amazon.com. The third title is only available through Doubleday bookclub. Ms. Simons also has a cookbook and anecdote book coming about called Tatiana’s Table which will be released in Austraila and New Zeland on Mother’s day.
I also found more author info on her official website paullinasimons.com and a wiki that states that she is currently writing a screenplay for The Bronze Horseman. Interesting because I can’t imagine who could play Alexander or Tatiana. Would you watch it? I’m wary but then if the author had a more significant role in who was playing what I might watch it. Maybe. However I did find this quote by Ms. Simons about the adaptation of the movie:
The fascination about a possible movie being made out of Bronze Horseman is astonishing. But this is the one book that I cannot and will not entrust to someone else to adapt to the screen, and I myself am flooded with prose work. I hope to have a screenplay finished soon.
In conclusion, I wish I had more juicy gossip to share with you but alas this is all there is my friends. Of course if I learn anything new I will share it with you. If you haven’t read The Bronze Horseman you should. It’s not a book that has universal appeal but it has stayed with me for years. Why? I love Ms. Simons authorial voice, her realistic dialogue, her characters and their tale of overcoming strife and adversity.