Guest post and giveaway: Imagine That by Katharine Britton
Katharine Britton wrote me a wonderful guest post five years ago when her debut novel, Her Sister’s Shadow was published. I’m thrilled to welcome her back as her latest novel, Vanishing Time, is being released. Please give her a warm welcome.
Have you ever believed (or denied) something so strongly that no amount of “evidence” to the contrary could dissuade you? In the end, were you right?
One of the first elements an author must decide about her novel is where it’s set. Generally, I plunk mine down beside the sea because novels take awhile to write, and I figure why not spend that time at the shore. For Vanishing Time I chose South Carolina’s Grand Strand. I went there on vacation years ago and was fascinated with the area’s landscape, culture, and also its history.
While there I visited several former plantations, including Litchfield’s Brookgreen Garden. I learned that the Grand Strand was once the world’s rice capital. Carolina Gold. As I gazed up the plantation’s long drive, lined with massive live oak trees, their moss-draped branches drooping nearly to the ground, I couldn’t help but think about all the history those trees had witnessed. I’d read a fair number of ghost stories by then⎯that area is quite heavily populated with ghosts⎯and I swear I could feel around me the spirits of those who’d lived and labored beneath those trees. Fiction writers are often highly susceptible to suggestion; it’s an occupational hazard.
Next I visited Georgetown’s Rice Museum. The walls were lined with dioramas depicting life on the plantations. Armed with my over-active imagination, I studied the little figurines and imagined someone tumbling back in time and discovering that they’d once lived on a plantation. Could be an interesting premise for a book, I thought. But I don’t write historical fiction. Still, the notion stuck with me, and I found myself thinking about the role that imagination plays in a person’s life.
To some degree we each create our own reality every day: Our moods, attitudes, and beliefs mediate what we see and hear, and what we tell ourselves about what we see and hear. Add in a little drama, trauma, and conflict (as authors are wont to do) and a person’s ability to see and interpret accurately what’s happening to her decreases considerably. Here’s where the imagination often takes over.
The actions a character takes as a result of confusing imagination and observation can provide endless possibilities for an author. One recent best-selling novel that explores the dire consequences of a character assigning her own interpretation to an event she’s witnessed is The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. That novel made me wonder: Should we ever trust what we see, or do we all simply see what we believe?
While I did set Vanishing Time in the Low Country (and I include plenty of description of wave-washed beaches) the novel’s true setting is the interior landscape of a desperate mother searching for her missing son, whom everyone around her presumes is dead. She continues her frantic search until this distraught mother is no longer certain if what she’s seeing and hearing is real or conjured from her imagination.
Has your imagination ever worked overtime with unexpected results?
I’d love to hear your stories. Please leave them in the comments section below. I am giving away five copies of Vanishing Time. If you’re a lucky recipient, I’d be grateful if you’d rate and/or review Vanishing Time on Amazon or Goodreads.
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About Katharine Britton:
Katharine Britton is the author of two novels, HER SISTER’S SHADOW and LITTLE ISLAND (Berkley Books, Penguin, USA). Her third novel, VANISHING TIME, is due for publication Summer 2016. She has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and a Master’s in Education from the University of Vermont, and has taught at the Writer’s Center, Colby Sawyer College, and OSHER at Dartmouth. She was a Moondance Film Festival winner and a finalist in the New England Women in Film and Television contest. She writes reviews for the New York Journal of Books.
Katharine has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. Her screenplay Goodbye Don’t Mean Gone, on which Vanishing Time was based, was a Moondance Film Festival winner and a finalist in the New England Women in Film and Television contest. When not writing, Katharine can often be found in her Vermont garden, waging a non-toxic war against slugs, snails, deer, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles, and beetles. Katharine’s defense consists mainly of hand-wringing after the fact.
About Vanishing Time:
Cama Truesdale’s ex-husband and young son leave Boston for a “boys only” fishing trip in South Carolina’s Low Country. In the early morning hours, Cama is jolted awake by a phone call. There’s been a fire on board the boat. Her ex-husband is dead. Her son is missing and presumed dead.
As she sets off for South Carolina, Cama’s belief that her son Tate is alive is unwavering. But her frantic search soon stirs up painful memories that send her reeling back to her childhood and the mysterious car crash that killed her Gullah mother and white father. As the clock ticks down, exhausted, haunted by dreams, and stymied by the police and local community, she enters a world in which she must rely on instinct over fact, and where no one and nothing is what it seems—not even the boundary between the living and the dead.
Vanishing Time is a tale about how grief can shape reality and the power of a mother’s love.
Thanks to Katharine’s generosity, I have FIVE copies of Vanishing Time to give to five lucky readers. To enter to win a copy of VANISHING TIME by Katharine Britton, simply fill out the entry form. Contest is open to those with a US address only – one entry per person, please. I will use random.org to determine the winner. Contest ends at midnight EDT Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.