ASW: Hi, Traci, and congratulations on your novel, The Love Of My (Other) Life. Your novel is both poignant and humorous and contains magical realism, mystery, and my favorite subject, I confess, literary romance. Could we begin with you giving an overview of your latest novel? And, a discussion of some of your forthcoming and previous titles?
TS: I recently finished Far Shore, Book 3, in the dystopian “After Series.” This is a book where all the characters are evolving. It’s set in the same mist-ravaged world, in the United States. Damaged beyond belief, Arthur is held prisoner by sociopathic Alexei; Emma leaves everything behind to rescue Arthur. The attempt forces her to grow in ways she never expected.
The Love Of My (Other) Life, is a bittersweet romantic comedy about choices, loss, and second chances. It’s a science fiction romp that looks into the depths of the human condition. What if the one person who was your soul mate was the one person you could never be with, because he’s from another universe altogether? And who would you be if you had made different decisions in your life? How do you reach your potential as a woman, as an artist, and as a wife?
I’m working on two novels now: The Year Of Loving, a woman’s novel about the complexities of modern women’s lives, and Broken, a historical novel set during WWII in Paris.
ASW: In The Love of my (Other) Life, the main character, Tessa, is a struggling artist who is also hit with a divorce and financial problems. And I’m going to make a generalization here, but I think Tessa represents so many contemporary women who struggle with the vision of following their own authentic paths—be it raising children as a stay-at-home mother, a lawyer, a caregiver, an artist. Did you intend to show in this novel the complexities that women must navigate to follow their true paths—and not become derailed by societal and/or economic pressures in this day and age?
TS: Yes, that’s part of it, for sure. I’m very interested in the multi-faceted lives women lead. How do we balance all the demands for our time and energy with our talents and longings? It’s complex. It requires constant responsiveness, continual monitoring and reinvention.
We want to immerse ourselves in great love while also achieving great personal and creative fulfillment in our chosen career. We also want great friendships. And we must have the money to do everything necessary. This is all a negotiation with the specific commitments and obligations of our daily lives. It’s tricky.
ASW: Please chat with us about the character, Bryan Tennyson. He pops into Tessa’s life without warning and turns her world upside down. As a writer, what was the process of developing his character and function in this novel?
TS: I use a technique called a Character “X.” I draw an X on a sticky note and then I label the endpoints with four character traits for my character. More than four tends to make the character too slippery to get a handle on, either for writer or reader; fewer than three tends to make the character feel flat and one-dimensional. After labeling the endpoints of the X, I put the note up on the side of my iMac so I can keep the character traits in mind.
I envisioned Brian as brilliant/inventive, exuberant, determined, and loving. He’s all about his heart, but he has a unique and giant brain, too. He just goes right up to what he wants and doesn’t take “No” for an answer. But he’s a nerd, too.
ASW: Tessa must choose love over logic. Do you think Tessa represents many women in our Western culture these days?
TS: I think there are times every woman has this choice presented to her. Each situation is different, though. Sometimes the “right” answer is love, sometimes it’s logic, and sometimes there is no right answer, there are just different experiences that emerge from the dilemma and resulting chaos.
ASW: You graduated from Yale, undergraduate degree, and pursued a graduate degree at Columbia University. You are a mother, wife, publisher, and columnist for the Huffington Post, and Co-founder of Parvati Press. How did your academic background prepare you for your professional roles? Or did it?
TS: I attended Yale from a family where no one had ever gone to college before, and I did so after an educational career that spanned ten different elementary schools. What I learned simply by getting into Yale is that I can teach myself anything and can reach way beyond my comfort zone. Those are lifelong lessons.
Yale gave me a phenomenal foundation in literature. I also took a writing class called Daily Themes there. My tutor Gordon Turnbull, who is now the world’s expert on Boswell, taught me a great deal about the nuts-and-bolts of prose writing. I must now offer a disclaimer: all writing tics, imperfections, and infelicities are my own. He mustn’t be held accountable.
ASW: You have published one book of poetry and six novels; another one is forthcoming soon. Given your professional roles and family roles—I understand you have three children, and one is an eight year old—how do you create the time for yourself to write?
TS: Sheer blunt force of willpower. I wish I had an easier answer for that, but it comes down to determination. I make time to write every day, and I write. No matter what.
ASW: Please chat with us about your role as Publisher and Co-founder of Parvati Press. What sorts of titles are you seeking to publish? Would you conclude with providing myself, and readers, with an overview of your press?
TS: I am very excited about Parvati Press. With print-on-demand and eBooks, we’re in the midst of the biggest revolution in publishing since the invention of the Gutenberg press. It offers unparalleled opportunities to authors and entrepreneurs—as long as we’re pathologically persistent and inventive. We do not have to wait to be ushered in the staid gates kept by dinosaurish traditional publishing companies. We can surge forward—a grassroots revolution, the demotic speaking up.
Parvati Press has grown slowly since its inception in 2011 but I’ve been seeking for the last year to add other authors to our line. I’m looking for books I fall in love with, and for authors whose work and whose voices delight me. This press will publish quality fiction and nonfiction titles.
ASW: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I hope our readers will find The Love Of My (Other) Life intriguing, and will take the time to check out your other great titles at Parvati Press.
TS: Thank you! I very much appreciate the interview and your thoughts on my novels. Southern Literary Review readers can find out more at www.tracilslatton.com and at www.parvatipress.com They’re welcome to send an email to email@example.com.
About Traci L. Slatton
Traci L. Slatton is a Manhattan poet, novelist, and founder of the independent Parvati Press with Southern roots that show. She came by storytelling honestly, having grown up at the kitchen table, listening to her Missouri-born mother, Arkansas-born father, and Ozark grandmother tell tales. As a kid she traveled with her military family, even living outside Memphis, Tennessee, for a few years.
Slatton attended Yale and Columbia and has published dozens of poems, short stories, and articles. She is a regular Huffington Post contributor, and she is also the author of 10 books: the historical novel Immortal (Bantam Dell, 2008); Piercing Time and Space (ARE Press, 2005), a nonfiction title on science and spirituality; The Botticelli Affair (Telemachus Press, 2011), an art history mystery vampire romp; Fallen (Telemachus Press, 2011), an award-winning dystopian novel, and first in the acclaimed AfterSeries; The Art of Life (Parvati Press, 2011), a survey of classical figurative sculpture through the ages; Cold Light (Parvati Press, 2012), the sequel to Fallen; The Love of My (Other) Life, a bittersweet sci-fi-rom-com that seeks to answer the question, “What worlds would you move for your soulmate?”; and Far Shore,the third book in the AfterSeries, which was mentioned in a USA Today list of recommended HEA paranormal fiction. She has also published How to Write, Publish, and Market Your Book Yourself, Independently: A Manual for the Courageous and Persistent.