From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
I always ask writers on my blog what sparked them writing a particular book. I know the answer to this, but it’s so moving, I’d love for you to talk about it.--Marshal Zeringue
Yes, my first husband died of a heart attack when he was 37 and I was 35, and many of the experiences and the emotional turmoil in THIS ANGEL ON MY CHEST are based on my own life. That said, the book is fiction, and plenty of elements are made up or fictionalized. The opening story, “Ten Things,” was actually written in the throes of grieving, the first thing I wrote after Robb died. I started the rest of the book years later, sparked by a random breakfast conversation at an artists’ colony. Someone mentioned she was teaching a class on the literature of subcultures, and I decided to spend the day writing about a subculture, since the novel I brought to work on wasn’t going anywhere. This ended up being the story “The Circle,” about a young widow’s support group similar to the one I attended for several months. Once in that world, I couldn’t leave, and I scribbled out dozens of ideas for stories exploring that part of my life. I’m so grateful that I was up early enough for breakfast that day.
How difficult was it, after such a loss, to write this book? Did anything surprise you while you were writing?
Almost fifteen years had passed since Robb’s death, so I had a lot of time to grieve and gain perspective. Even so, yes, some of these stories were...[read on]