Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Book Nook: Queenie

For those who remember the fifties as equitable and idyllic with a car in every garage and only one household member working, Queenie
 by LC Van Savage (Science and Humanities Press) offers a strong dose of reality.  It’s a compelling semi-autobiographical coming of age story with romance and complex relationships overlaid with the social/cultural/racial truth about the fifties.  It’s not always pretty, but it is a page-turner for adults and young adults alike.  Additionally, there is a surprise and shocking revelation toward the end that will make you think and feel even more deeply about the characters and the era.
Protagonist Courtenay Wolcott was born into money—lots of it. In her early teens, her wealthy lifestyle is suddenly torn from her. Forced to mix with the lower classes she’s always disdained and mocked, now out of her social element, she struggles to keep a balance, surviving a severe beating, endless harassment, constant humiliation, ethical issues and emotional turmoil as she strives to fit in with the poorer elements of society. A vicious family scandal allows her to finally realize the true goodness of the “Not of Our Kind, Dear” people. This is a great story of awakening, realization and maturing. 

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.
Why did you decide to write this book? 
 "Queenie" had been living inside of my head for decades, but because of other commitments in my life and because like so many of us, I reasoned I had all the time in the world to write her story I did what's so very easy to do--I procrastinated.  But when one hits the 80 mark, one's thoughts on these sorts of issues change greatly!  Thus I will say here that "Queenie" is a Bucket List book.  Her story was always there asking to be told, but I kept telling her to wait. Wait!  Eventually, Queenie advised me that waiting was no longer an option, so I finally wrote her story.

How is this book semi-autobiographical?
A well known author once told me that ALL books are semi (or perhaps not so semi) auto-biographical to a degree.  This may not come as a huge epiphany to anyone but it was, sort of,  to me.  In "Queenie's" case, this book was a bit more than "semi." I'd say that about 85% of the things in "Queenie" actually did happen to me. Perhaps more.

What do you hope people will get out of this book?
So many writers love to say "Mine is a story that MUST be told."  I'm not so sure "Queenie" fits into that slot at all, and maybe all writers, in their secret way-back ego place, like to believe that our words will save readers' lives and rock their worlds.  I do not think I had these secret thoughts about "Queenie" -- maybe! who knows? --but I do like to think that readers who have been bullied or hurt in some way on their life's paths can maybe see in Queenie's story that survival can happen.  There are certainly others, billions of others, who have suffered far, far worse paths than Queenie's, but comparisons, as they say, are odious and perhaps her story has some merit. Maybe readers who have suffered similar fates will see that they can make it through and come out stronger, better and even perhaps enriched somehow.  If none of this happens, then perhaps readers will simply find "Queenie" is a good story, decently told and an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. 

A prolific writer, LC Van Savage’s next novel, Frances, is currently being edited.  Her column "LC's Take" appeared in the Times Record in Brunswick, Maine for over 30 years, and was also featured weekly in The Coastal Journal out of Bath, Maine for ten years.  Her stories and essays also appear in the Maine Seniors Magazine.

LC also hosted a local TV show on Maine Public Broadcasting Network for 15 years called “IncredibleMAINE” where she travelled with her crew all over the state to film unique shows about Maine, her people and the things they do; she never ran out of ideas! Additionally, she had a weekly radio show for three years called "Senior Moment" broadcast from Bowdoin College. In total, she hosted four different radio interview shows over the years.

A collaborative writer as well, Van Savage wrote a book with Marilyn Monroe's first husband (Jim Dougherty ) entitled, To Norma Jean with Love,Jimmie, featured on E!, TV Guide, The Larry King Show and Bill Green's Maine. Other collaborative books include Dancing for Poppy, about a woman who overcame an abusive father and went on to survive a long and dangerous life, and Jan of Cleveland, a time-travel book about the 1300s and the intense horrors and humors of that era. Van Savage also wrote the biography of Virginia Mayo, a movie star famous from the l930s through the '70s entitled The Best Years of My Life, as well as the biography of John Agar, Shirley Temple’s first husband and also a famous star from the 40s and on, entitled On The Good Ship Hollywood.

LC has had articles and short stories published in magazines, small press magazines, anthologies and books. She writes rhymed and rhythmed poetry, and has included these in a book called LC's Take - Poetry- I. She still does readings around Maine from her poetry, columns and books.

A how-to book called How to Paint People's Life Stories is being updated, and includes some of LC’s murals, rugs, bowls and other folk art she has done as well as instructions on how others can do the same. She currently does smaller, one-subject personal bio paintings as well as paintings in that genre on many of the wonderful songs of the Great American Songbook (the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin etc.) and will happily be painting these fabulous songs for the rest of her life.

Born on Staten Island, New York, she has lived in Brunswick, Maine since 1974 with her husband Stephen. They've been happily married for 60 years, have three sons, and six grandchildren.

No comments:

Post a Comment