Today's guest blogger is Gail Graham, author of the literary novel, Sea Changes.
When Sarah’s husband dies suddenly, she is left with no anchor and no focus. Grief is an ever-present companion and counseling a weekly chore with minimal results, but when Sarah decides to end her life her suicide attempt takes her to an underwater world where she finds comfort and friendship. Afterwards, back on the beach she wonders – Was it a dream? Was I hallucinating? Or am I going mad?
Her efforts to make sense of the experience lead to Sarah’s becoming a suspect in the alleged kidnapping of a young heiress. Now her worlds are colliding – and the people she trusts are backing away, not believing a word she says. She must decide what is real and what is not. Her life depends on it.
Gail Graham’s previous novel, CROSSFIRE, won the Buxtehude Bulle, a prestigious German literary award. CROSSFIRE has been translated into German, French, Danish, Finnish and Swedish. Three of Gail’s other books were NY Times Book of the Year recommendations. Gail lived in Australia for 32 years, where she owned and operated a community newspaper and published several other books, including A COOL WIND BLOWING (a biography of Mao Zedong) STAYING ALIVE and A LONG SEASON IN HELL. She returned to the United States in 2002, and now lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Gail is going to share a bit about the characters you'll find in Sea Changes. Make sure you stick with us to the end because we'll be giving you a chance to win an ARC of Sea Changes.
Sarah Andrews’ life has always revolved around her husband, Charles. Now Charles is dead and Sarah is alone in Australia, a country she doesn’t understand. My life is gone. But I’m still alive. Counseling doesn’t help. Nothing helps. I want to die. I’ll go for a swim, and just keep swimming.
She’s not afraid of death. But this isn’t death. This is impossible. There’s no such thing as a world at the bottom of the sea. I’m sad, I’m grieving, but I’m not crazy. I must have dreamed it, Sarah decides afterwards. Or maybe I had some sort of hallucination.
Even so, something happened. You can’t deny that. Something definitely happened. The important thing is to act normal. If you act normal you are normal and people leave you alone. Besides, I am normal. I know the difference between reality and illusion. I do. Then how to explain the girl asleep on her couch? The girl exists. But did she really come from a world beneath the sea? Or is she the missing Queensland heiress they’re all making such a fuss about?
Charles always said, Anything is possible.
Maybe Charles was right.
Kahn is a middle-aged Australian psychotherapist. He keeps his distance from clients, never answering personal questions. They teach you this, at university. They teach you about the grief process, too. Disbelief, anger, bargaining, acceptance. Psychotherapy is a job, like any other.
Kahn is baffled by Sarah Andrews. Her tears, her sadness, it’s all too much. Of course, she’s a Yank and, you’ve got to take that into account. You’d never see an Australian carrying on like that. Even so, Sarah annoys him, and that’s unprofessional. You can’t let clients get to you.
All her talk about how different Americans are from Australians! Americans are romantic. Americans are inspirational. Americans have a work ethic. Well, so what? What’s so wonderful about a work ethic? In Australia, work is what you do to earn a crust. A job is a job and one job is as good as the next.
He has to let her talk. Allowing clients to speak freely like is part of the technique. And that’s what psychotherapy is, really. A technique, something you learn at university. Something you do to earn a crust.
Felicity Andrews is a thirty-something, single Australian journalist. (All right, she’s not technically Australian. She was born in America. But she grew up in Australia and she feels Australian, and that’s what counts. Right?) Of course, Mum wouldn’t agree. But Felicity and her mother Sarah rarely agree about anything. It’s too bad Dad died, but that was two years ago. It’s time for Mum to get over it, that’s what Felicity thinks.
Why can’t Mum just be like other people? (Other Australians, Felicity means) Mum has always been different from all the other mums. It’s irritating. It’s even embarrassing. Felicity sometimes thinks she’d give anything to have a normal mum, like everybody else.
And then there’s the money thing. Instead of investing Dad’s superannuation and growing it so that there’d be something for Felicity to inherit, Mum opted for an annuity that will only last as long as she lives. That totally sucks. I mean, how selfish can you get? So Felicity has to work for a living, and if she hasn’t got much time for Sarah, well whose fault is that?
WIN AN ADVANCED READING COPY OF SEA CHANGES!!!!
Here are the rules for this contest:
1) Comment here with your working email address so that we can contact you if you win.
2) Get an additional entry for blogging about this contest. Leave a comment here telling us where you are blogged about it.
Contest runs from today until on June 14, 2009. The winner will be announced at this blog on June 15, 2009.
This contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada only.