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Guest post and giveaway: Imagine That by Katharine Britton

June 14, 2016

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.

Kathrarine Britton

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.

vanishing time final 4x6

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 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.


27 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2016 8:27 am

    This sounds perfect for me! Thanks to you and the author for the chance to win!

  2. June 14, 2016 9:10 am

    Author interviews are cool.

  3. Patty permalink
    June 14, 2016 9:25 am

    Loved this interview and I have to read these books!

    • June 14, 2016 12:33 pm

      Patty, Thanks! Hope you enjoy my books. (I welcome ratings and reviews on Goodreads &/or Amazon.)

  4. June 14, 2016 10:36 am

    I have to track down this author. Love the story.

  5. June 14, 2016 11:24 am

    Oh, great interview! I loved her thoughts on imagination and observation, and the example from The Girl on the Train was spot on. Now I must read her books! Thanks for sharing.

  6. bookingmama permalink
    June 14, 2016 11:54 am

    Great guest post! I’d love to win a copy of this novel!!!

  7. June 14, 2016 6:03 pm

    This is a great post! I definitely believe that one’s imagination or beliefs can interpret reality (whatever that is) to suit that person’s beliefs. It’s always fascinating to read books about this subject.

    • June 15, 2016 8:30 am

      Athira, Good question, “What is reality?” Does it exist outside our perceptions? To some degree, yes. But, if you have siblings and have ever reminisced about a childhood event, you realize pretty quickly that whatever “reality” does exist gets heavily modified by us. I hope you enjoy Vanishing Time! (Which is available now through Amazon in case you don’t win a copy.)

  8. Literary Feline permalink
    June 14, 2016 6:23 pm

    Thank you for the insightful guest post. One of my favorite quotes is “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” by Anais Nin. And I really believe that is true.

    I have a very active imagination. It’s served me well and also made me worry needlessly on the other hand. Vanishing Time sounds wonderful. One of my biggest fears is my child going missing. So frightening!

    • June 15, 2016 8:35 am

      Dear Literary Feline,
      I’d never heard that quote; it’s perfect. I’m also cursed/blessed with an active imagination and am constantly reminding myself: “Don’t bleed ’til you’re shot!”

      A missing child is probably many parent’s worst nightmare, which is why I picked it for Vanishing Time. I wanted my protagonist’s drive to be primal and universally felt.

  9. Karen B permalink
    June 14, 2016 6:50 pm

    Your book sounds fascinating!

  10. June 15, 2016 2:52 am

    Terrific guest post! I have an active imagination–I try to put it to good use. Thank you for this wonderful giveaway. I will add it to my blog’s sidebar.

    • June 15, 2016 8:37 am

      Thanks, Suko! Good point: an active imagination isn’t always a curse. In fact, Cama (my protagonist), must rely on her imagination and intuition to guide her. It’s a trust in the unseen. (Thanks for the boost on your blog!)

  11. June 15, 2016 3:39 am

    What a fun guest post! Love the premise of the book.

  12. June 18, 2016 12:22 am

    Now that I’ve been to lowcountry this book needs to go on my lisy 🙂

    • June 18, 2016 1:37 pm

      Stacy, It’s a fascinating place, isn’t it? (If you’re on Goodreads, I’d love it if you’d add my book to your list there.) Hope you enjoy it!

  13. June 21, 2016 10:52 am

    I love this setting! I used to live in FL and have taken many drives through the Carolinas, and it’s a lovely region. I’ve read several interesting stories set here. It might sound silly, but I was introduced to the Gullah culture through Gullah Gullah Island, a children’s tv show that my 2 younger kids watched and loved years ago. I added this to my look-for list on Goodreads.

    Whether or not I win, I intend to read this story 🙂 so thanks.

    • June 21, 2016 8:10 pm

      Rita, Thanks so much for your note! I did love the Low Country, especially the live oaks and Spanish moss. And I found the Gullah culture and history of the rice plantations captivating. Thanks for adding Vanishing Time via Goodreads. If you like the book, I hope you’ll write a review on Goodreads. Thanks and good luck! k

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