Carrying on with a long weekend of reading, I am bringing a book to our blog readers that I read over a weekend, because it was unputdownable and a great escape. You are very quickly drawn into the story, because there is so much that one can see of oneself in it… I cannot even count how many years I spent sitting in the park waiting for one or two kids to finish an extra-mural, and keeping the smaller children entertained, while I chatted with other moms each week and years later we are still friends and can pick up our conversations wherever we left off, no matter how long it has been since we saw each other. In fact, there is a lot in this book that is relatable to your life wherever you are… Read on for the Author Interview and the GiveAway…
How often as moms we are introduced by our children, the book is about three moms:
- Rebecca, the mother of Amy: Rebecca is a working mom, an artist, who appears to be doing her best to have it all together. After years of infertility treatment she and her husband have adopted their child and are constantly trying to cope with their cross-cultural adoption in an uncompromising world. You might find yourself wondering how Rebecca manages to be the I can do it all kind of mother.
- Rose, the mother of Maggie: Rose is the quintessential “good mother” in the book, alway loving, always cuddling, taking photographs of her wonderful child… and a great park friend, she listens and shares anecdotes that make you know that she understands… the fact is that she doesn’t share very much about herself, and you will find yourself wondering if there isn’t something deeper going on.
- Lilith, mother of Ruby-Mae: Lilith is a single mom, who arrives in the park looking for true friendship, moving from mom to mom until she meets up with the duo of Rose and Rebecca, and they appear to be just the friends she needs. The question you have to ask is why does she need them so badly?
This book is touted as a thriller, though I might have called it a mystery. However you classify it, from the very beginning you have a feeling that the characters have hidden depths and that you are only slightly touching the surface with each of them… Rebecca’s life looks way too perfect; Rose never talks about herself and Lilith feels slightly invasive… she steps into their lives and one feels that she is interviewing them, rather just relating to them. There are so many questions… and I had to know what was going on. Who were these three characters really… and as you read along you will find yourself having quite a few aha moments, but never enough of them. There was always something just out of reach that we weren’t told… when Lilith’s behaviour becomes somewhat dubious, and when Rose starts to feel like the “third wheel” her true colours are revealed… but where does this all leave Rebecca? She is stuck in the middle, and ultimately a people pleaser. It is not that she always wants to do the right thing, but more that she is compelled to do the right thing. That and and her naivety, makes her the perfect victim of a crime… or is it a crime?
This book is a fabulous read, for folk just wanting to escape… it’s perfect. The book just rides the ebb and flow of life, and there is no horrific or violent event to catch you unawares, but there is this consistent niggle, an uneasiness that makes you want to read on an figure out exactly how this book plays out. I love that the book was written by a South African and places the story well within the South African context. I have to say that it is fabulous that at last South African writers are emerging, who are writing stories that can be read and enjoyed by readers all over the world, writing books in the South African setting, without judgement… for or against. If you are South African here or away, you will relate to this book… you will find parts of yourself within the pages, and if you are not South African, you will totally get the book, and at the same time you will get a peak into the everyday culture of South African Life.
Meet The Author: Gail Schimmel
- Let’s start with an introduction: Tell us about your perfect day…
- Did you always want to be a writer?
- What are you reading right now? And do you have an all time favourite book?
- Who or what has been your biggest influence in writing?
- Tell us about your work style: Are you compelled to write when inspiration strikes or disciplined or do you just squeeze it in whenever you can?
- Where do you work best? On the couch at a desk ?
- Your characters so real where do you find them? Where do you get your inspiration to create them?
- Do you have something to tell our followers who think that they might have a book inside of them, a word of encouragement or some advice?
Can it be a complete fantasy? Can I wake up late and not have to get the children ready for school? And then even though the children aren’t at school, they are magically amused and I write for an hour, before pottering in my garden and reading and meeting a friend for a lovely lunch. . .
More realistically, a good day for me is one where I tick all the boxes – I get some “day job” work done and it is interesting, I get some writing done, and I am there for my children and nobody has a meltdown – especially not me. To be very honest, I quite like a very full day that is just very slightly too full – I thrive on a bit of stress.
From when I could put pen to paper. But then my father – who was an artist and should have encouraged me – told me that there is a lot of editing and rewriting involved. And that was before computers, so it sounded very tedious and a lot like hard work. I didn’t want to work too hard, so I became a lawyer instead. . .
Right now I am reading The Nix by Nathan Hill. John Irving – who is one of my favourite writers – describes him as something like the best living American writer. . . and I am loving the book. So far this year I have also loved A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart, and The Empathy Problem by Gavin Extence. Looking at this list is a bit weird – because I actually usually prefer women writers!!
I don’t have an all time favourite or even a top 5 – I read fiction but within that I am fairly eclectic. And I read so much that it is hard to say what my favourites are. I always love a great story with great characters. My read-of-the-year last year was probably A Little Life – but it’s not a book I would reread because it was an emotionally gruelling read and left me quite destroyed.
This is a hard question. My mother taught me to look at life as a “novel writing idea”. My friend Marion Scher, who is a great journalist, gave me confidence in my writing. And obviously I am greatly influenced by books that I enjoy.
If you wait for inspiration to strike, you’re going to wait a long time to get a book done. It really can only be done with some amount of discipline – what they refer to as “bum glue”. I try to write 500 words a day, but to some extent it becomes a matter of when and if I can fit it in. And I only write on work days, not over weekends or holidays.
At a desk. But I can also manage my daily 500 in bed. . .
My characters are never based on real people – but at the same time, there are pieces of real people in them. Because really, people are just amazing and fascinating and often very hilarious. My characters also tend to take up residence in my head when I am writing – they have long chats when I can’t get to a pen! Some characters are also more fun to write than others – in The Park I loved writing Eugenie Clark. And in my previous book (Whatever Happened To The Cowley Twins?), which is written from several points of view, I loved it when it was Cricket’s turn to speak.
- Number one – it is about discipline. Most people have a book inside of them but they seem to expect that it is just going to appear one day. You have to sit down and you have to write. But set realistic targets. If you try to write 2000 words a day I am telling you now that you will fail, and then give up. Find what you can do realistically – and do that.
- Next tip is that sometimes your first book is NOT the book you were born to write. My first book will never be published – it was my learning exercise. It gave me confidence to write and it showed me that I had the discipline. If you have written a book and are frustrated because it isn’t getting published, maybe your next book is the one that will be good enough.
- For me, another lesson hard learned was that I cannot talk about a book while I am writing it. If I tell the story, I lose the need to write it. Nobody ever knows what I am working on next.
Previous Posts on the Book Tour
- The Book Musings: The Park by Gail Schimmel…
- Message from my Books: Pregnant Musings from a Swollen Belly… reading about Rebecca…
- On Bookish: Your Next Book Club Read Just Got a Lot More Chilling… and An Author Interview with Gail Schimmel.
- The Blessed Barreness: Gail Schimmel’s the Park – A Glimpse into Life as a Cross Racial Family via Adoption in South Africa.
- Making Mountains: Motherhood Myths and the Park.
- The Paperback Reader: Interview with Gail Schimmel, author of The Park.
We have a copy of The Park to GiveAway… This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before 24 April 2017. We will draw and publish the winners in the following Fabulous Fun Post. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway.
Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!
We would love to thank Gail Schimmel so very much for the interview with us and we would like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa who provided us with two copies of the book, one for review purposes and the other for a giveAway. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write the review and the opinions are as usual entirely our own.