Emily Arsenault's new novel is What Strange Creatures.
From the author's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
A brother arrested for murder, a sister who must prove his innocence, trying to save him when her own life is in turmoil. Where did the idea come from? What made you haunted enough by it to write a novel?Learn more about the book and author at Emily Arsenault's website.
To start with, I was pretty sure I wanted to write a story about a jaded brother and sister, and I was pretty sure I wanted their relationship to have some humorous elements. In very small ways, I based them on my mom and my uncle, who live a block away from each other in the same New England town in which they grew up. (Like Theresa, my mother eats out a great deal. And like her brother Jeff, my uncle is very frugal and scavenges her doggie bags.) Of course, I couldn’t write a novel about these two simply sitting together at a kitchen table and making wisecracks. I needed for them to have a challenge that would jolt them out of their sarcastic passivity. So I threw a murder at them.
How did you find out about Margery Kempe, the medieval mystic, and how does she function in the novel?
I learned about Margery Kempe through a survey of early English lit class when I was fulfilling credits for English teaching certification years ago. I was intrigued by her unusual life—particularly the fact that she managed to convince her husband to allow her to take a vow of celibacy—and to go on pilgrimages by herself—after she’d had fourteen children with him. When....[read on]