Thanks to Lesley MM Blume for the great interview on her new book, Tennyson! *Spoiler Warning*! If you haven't read this fantastic book, then read no further! We don't want to ruin the fabulous ending for you!
Bookworm: What inspired you to write Tennyson?
Lesley: The influences for Tennyson were many and have been in my life for a long time, such as two photography books titled Immediate Family and Ghosts Along the Mississippi. The idea for the characters and the plot just occurred to me one day, and within weeks, I was down in southern Louisiana's river road plantation country, doing research. I stayed at some incredible, haunted plantations while I was there...and in the end could only use about 1/1ooth of the material that I gathered from these places. I loved writing Tennyson and really, really miss that world now that the writing is over.
Bookworm: Are any of the characters in the book based on real-life people?
Lesley: For the first time in my life, no. My first two books, Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters and The Rising Star of Rusty Nail, were based on my personal history and that of my family. Tennyson is wholly fictional. There are, of course, homages in some of the characters...savvy readers might detect a touch of The New Yorker's Alexander Wolcott in my character, Bartholomew Prentiss. And the main character, Tennyson, and her younger sister, Hattie, were partly inspired by the two daughters photographed in Immediate Family. But as far as being based on people in my own circle: no.
Bookworm: Why does Sadie leave in Tennyson?
Lesley: Sadie is a very complicated, sad, character...and I remain completely fascinated in her. As readers of Tennyson learn in the first chapter, Sadie is a failed writer, and she blames this on her family. She imagines that if she could just get away from the burdening responsibilities of family life, she could realize her talent.
Most of my readers despise her, but I feel terrible for her. Not every woman is equipped to be everything at once: a wonderful mother, a successful artist, a devoted wife. Many of us have to make choices among those categories. It's not always an easy choice. And Sadie was obviously not the most centered person to begin with.
But I hope that my readers will view her with a little bit of compassion, despite the fact that she abandons her children and husband. I truly believe that in her heart, she felt it was the best thing for everyone, and that Emery would do a better job raising the girls alone, without the stain of Sadie's bitter disappointment and instability.
Bookworm: Are there any new/upcoming books of yours that will be published soon?
Lesley: I'm working on a few things all at once (which is difficult, by the way). I'm working on a book for young readers, which is quite different from the first three novels...I'm also working on an adult novel. Incidentally, I've also written an adult short story based on the relationship between Sadie and Emery (the parents in Tennyson)...but it hasn't been published yet.
Check out Lesley' book Tennyson at your local bookstore or library!