Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Alexandra Burt Interview - Shadow Garden


Photo Content from Alexandra Burt

Alexandra Burt was born in a baroque German town in the East Hesse Highlands. She moved to Texas, married, and worked as a freelance translator. Determined to acknowledge the voice in the back of her head to break into literary translations, the union never panned out. She decided to tell her own stories. She currently resides in Central Texas.

Remember Mia is her first novel. Her second novel, The Good Daughter, was published in February 2017. Her third novel, Shadow Garden, is forthcoming in July, 2020. She is working on her fourth novel.

        
  


Tell us about your new book, SHADOW GARDEN!
Shadow Garden is the story of the Pryor family; Donna, her husband Edward, a plastic surgeon, and their daughter Penelope. They seem to have it all, at least so it seems. At the beginning of the novel, Donna Pryor, lives tucked away at Shadow Garden, a luxury apartment complex, and has everything but the truth of what happened to her perfect family. Her family’s fall from grace is not something she can wrap her head around but she’s determined to find out.

What inspired you to write SHADOW GARDEN?
Shadow Garden started out as a moral thought experiment. I wondered about all the complicated ways money messes with morals. We know wealth impacts sense of morality, relationships, and mental health but is it true that the more one has to lose the harder one fights to keep it—whatever ‘it’ may be? Money, a reputation, a standing in the community? I wondered if being rich is inherently immoral and if so, what are the consequences of protecting this way of life at all cost?

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I always have to go back to being a child and only having access to books in a small town library and how I read through all those shelves—most of them age-inappropriate—and how books gave me the sense that I wasn’t restricted to just living one life, but vicariously experiencing many lives. I took to crime early and wholeheartedly, beginning with Patricia Highsmith and Agatha Christie. It was such a rush knowing there’d always be books and stories and opportunities to wear characters like a second skin, and it seemed only natural to become a writer, make up stories, and create my own worlds.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

My most rewarding experience by far are readers who I meet or who contact me and tell me how much they love my books. I’m not only a writer but also a reader and when I run across a book that devours me, that makes me feel suspended in time, I contact the author to let them know how much the book meant. To evoke that same feeling in someone is such a special treat.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I want readers to ask themselves how far they’d go to protect their children. But that’s only on the surface, other questions then follow: did the Pryors risk more because they had more to lose? The higher the stakes, the more they wagered? If they were not wealthy would the story be any different? Do you feel empathy for them or do you find yourself at a safe distance watching them implode? How judgements made in the moment stay with us, cling to us if you will, and how even carefully weighted choices can be the wrong decisions to make. Are we inclined to be more protective the more is on the line and most of all, is there a point of no return? A place from which we will not recover and where do you, as a reader, draw the line, as you read the story of the Pryor family?

There is always so much more to unpack as I write and those unexpected questions are surprising and thought provoking. I hope the reader feels that way, too.

What did you enjoy most about writing your main character, Donna?
I felt a kinship with Donna Pryor. While I was writing the final draft of Shadow Garden, I was moving out of the house I’d lived in for fifteen years, where I had written my first two books and where I had raised my daughter. We were in the middle of the construction of our new house when due to poor planning and many building delays we ended up living in a hotel and then an apartment. Working on the final draft, moving from place to place—four places in six months—I felt in flux, on one hand mourning the house where my daughter grew up and on the other longing to be firmly rooted in a place again. So much of being attached to a house resonated with me and shaped Donna as a character.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love for all the mothers in my books to meet. Estelle Paradise (Remember Mia) and Memphis Waller (The Good Daughter) and Donna Pryor would have a lot to chat about. I guess they’d agree that motherhood is like white water rafting with all those rough currents rushing over and around all those obstacles. In the end they might agree they were human and did the best they could, at least that’s what I imagine.

What is the best memory you’ve ever had as a writer?
My fondest memory is the time when I just began querying and looking for an agent; the buildup, the wait for a possible manuscript request sitting in my inbox at any moment, all that hope and anticipation and promise. I recommend to enjoy the journey and be in the moment and take it all in. Every single part of this journey is amazing, even before one is published.

Where can readers find you? You can virtually find me on Facebook (@authoralexandraburt), on my website (alexandraburt.com) and on IG (alexandraburt33).

TEN FAVORITE READS EVER 
Laird Koenig, The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
Koenig was known for his screenplays, so the setting and characters feel like an intimate stage play: a house in a small New York village around Halloween. At a time when books for girls were about saving horses, the story of a 13-year-old girl all alone in a house is heartbreaking, but—nothing is at it seems. It’s a sinister story that will have you hooked until the end. Must read for suspense enthusiasts. Must.

Joanne Greenberg, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
This book is a semi-autobiographical account of a teenage girl’s three-year battle with schizophrenia. It is a portrait of mental illness at a time when there was still a lot of stigma attached to it. In order to cope, Deborah Blau has created the Kingdom of Yr as a form of defense from a frightening reality but her creation becomes tyrannical, ruling her every word and action. Powerful.

Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby
What can I say, my teenage heart beat faster as Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband, Guy, move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation. Pregnant and gaunt, Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated and she begins to suspect that not everything is what it seems at the Bramford. Terrifying.

Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs
An evil genius, a serial killer, a psychiatrist, and Clarice Starling, a young FBI Special Agent, who has to interview serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter and convince him to help her track down a psychotic serial killer named Buffalo Bill. Terror will ensue in the reader’s mind. Terror.

Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
A book born from the author’s own horrific rape experience as a teenager follows Susie Salmon. Susie is dead and her bones are locked up in a safe and hidden in quicksand by her killer. We follow her narration as she tells her tale of loss and destruction and death. Heartbreaking.

David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
A retelling of Hamlet celebrating the bond between humans and dogs: a speech-disabled boy named Edgar struggling to prove that his uncle killed his father as he’s looking through his grandfather’s breeding records for clues of the crime. “He tried to sort out his feelings. There was the desire to run; there was the desire to stay...” Fascinating.

Andre Dubus III, House of Sand and Fog
Never have characters come more alive or have leaped off the pages and into my head quite like in this book, and never has narrative executed such stark truths and epic consequences. House Of Sand And Fog is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. Period.

Cynthia Bond, Ruby
When I mention Bond’s Ruby, and I do often, I call it a novel not of this world. I’ve read the book but don’t let the audio version pass you by; Bond narrates it herself and it couldn’t be more masterful. Ruby Bell is as beautiful as she is mad and she navigates racial tension and sexual violence in the most beautiful and haunting language I’ve ever come across. Genius.

Elizabeth Brundage, All Things Cease to Appear
A gothic noir that never got the recognition it deserved. At the center of the story is a gruesome and unsolved murder yet it is far removed from conventional crime novels. It is different and memorable and, in my eyes, perfect. It’s a ghost story and a murder mystery and it’s haunting as it draws from a true murder: a woman with an axe embedded in her head, her daughter keeping vigil for the better part of the fateful day. Mesmerizing.

Mary Hood, How Far She Went
My first love were and still are short stories. One of my favorite anthologies is Mary Hood’s world that seeks to uncover what brews just beneath the surface during a pleasant sunny afternoon in rural North Georgia. Absorbing.

Know that for every book I mentioned, there are ten more that should have made the list. I’m forever thankful for having read them.



A wealthy woman suspects something is off about the luxurious complex she lives in . . . and she is right, in this riveting domestic-suspense novel from international bestselling author Alexandra Burt.

Donna Pryor lives in the lap of luxury. She spends her days in a beautifully appointed condo. Her every whim is catered to by a dedicated staff, and she does not want for anything.

Except for news of her adult daughter.

Or an ex-husband who takes her calls.

Donna knows something is wrong, but she can't quite put her finger on it. As her life of privilege starts to feel more and more like a prison, the facade she has depended on begins to crumble. Somewhere in the ruins is the truth, and the closer Donna Pryor gets to it, the more likely it is to destroy her.


You can purchase Shadow Garden at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ALEXANDRA BURT for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Shadow Garden by Alexandra Burt.
jbnpastinterviews

9 comments:

  1. "What is one unique thing are you afraid of?" Hideous nightmares about eating lightbulbs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think I have any unique fears. I know I don't want to die from a virus.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sharks in grocery stores pushing carriages in the frozen food aisle. When they pass me, they chomp at me. They are in dresses, hats and pearls. I don't get it either.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am afraid the blankets being to tight on my feet when sleeping. It makes me feel very claustrophobic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Running out of money in my old age.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can't think of one unique thing I'm afraid of.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Being alone at home at night.

    ReplyDelete