Ed Tarkington's new book is Only Love Can Break Your Heart.
From the author's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
I always want to know what sparks a book--what was haunting you at the time so you knew you had to write this?--Marshal Zeringue
Well, to tell you the truth, I've known I was going to write this book since I was a kid. I had an older half-sister whom I really loved. She turned me on to the music that makes up the soundtrack of the novel, so to speak. Like Paul in the novel, she smoked in the house. I knew she was a bit of a bad girl. What I didn't know--what I didn't find out for several years--was that she was struggling with mental illness, which really thwarted and overtook her life and caused a lot of pain for her and everyone around her. I didn't really find out how bad things were for my sister until I was about ten, when she attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of extra-strength Tylenol. That night was also the first time--one of only two times, as a matter of fact--that I saw my father cry. The combined effect of those events moved me profoundly. It was, for me, the origin of the urge, you might say. I understood implicitly that the only way to make sense of the emotions I was feeling would be to write about them. Still, I pushed the core conflicts and characters in this story away for a long time. I needed to find a way to distance myself from the more personal elements of the story. I also had to overcome the fear--acquired from years of mainlining Cormac McCarthy, Robert Stone, and Denis Johnson--that this material wasn't serious or edgy enough. Mercifully, I...[read on]