Friday, June 20, 2008

Linda Merlino and Belly of the Whale

When I read the synopsis of Belly of the Whale, I couldn't help but be intrigued.

"Hudson Catalina has given up. Having lost both breasts to cancer, she is emotionally and physically exhausted, no longer willing to endure the nausea and crushing weakness that chemotherapy causes, until the wrecked-by-life young Buddy Baker arrives, bent on murder. A touching story of despair, abuse, murder and survival takes you on a journey through the darkest places of the human mind and spirit, and in the end leads you back out of “the belly of the whale” enriched by the experience."

This story idea touched me personally. My mother died of cancer when I was only 14, and I've often wondered if the two years she suffered after her mastectomy left her hoping it would soon end. My mind wandered to what kind of research Linda would have to do to portray Hudson's experiences as a woman battling cancer. This is what I've asked her to write about for you today.

My research for Belly of the Whale took place over the span of about a year. It was the first year of "writing" the story. That year I collected information more than I wrote. The idea was in my head and not so much on paper. I was concerned for authentic emotions and correct therapies. I did not want to write a book about cancer, but I had to be accurate nonetheless.

I resourced through magazine articles, newspapers, online articles and "talking" to doctors and breast cancer victims. I was focused on how a young woman with a family history of breast cancer would handle a diagnosis and subsequent treatment. I wanted to find out about caregivers and especially spouses. From all I garnered it was repeated over and over that the compassionate, supportive spouse was a key factor in recovery and in acceptance of what might happen.

Lastly I took myself into her head, after all, I created Hudson Catalina, I could get into her mind. The story is very emotional...that was deliberate. I was very careful of mis-speaking on a subject that I had not experienced; other than being a "driver" for friends to chemotherapy and my mother's surviving breast cancer, I had no brushes with the beast. I tried to use the emotional thread that is in all of us,which is that hope binds us to the planet, that hope connects us to life, hope is the lifeline; the umbilical cord.

You can find Linda on the web at and at MySpace.

Belly of the Whale is available at and from Kunati Book Publishers.

The BELLY OF THE WHALE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Linda's tour in progress, visit in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced on her tour page at June 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Welcome to The Book Connection, Linda. It's great to have you with us.