Lindas Book Obsession Interviews Lynne Hugo, Author of “The Testament of Harold’s Wife”
What inspired you to write “The Testament of Harold’s Wife?
- I was inspired to write the book by a number of unrelated experiences that stuck in my mind—they must have sort have smashed together like atoms and exploded into an insistent story. First, my sister, to whom I am very close, was nearly killed by a driver who crossed center line and hit her head on. He was unpunished by the law (even though he was driving an unregistered, uninsured car). She was in the hospital and we never found out if he was drunk or on drugs, but that was our impression at the time. The second experience occurred when I was at a traffic light one slushy December twilight. I saw a decal on the back of a big black SUV. It was white, in the shape of angel wings, had a name, “Nicholas,” dates of birth and death—which told me he’d been a teenager—and said, in stylized script, “A Grandfather Never Forgives.” I was so dumbfounded by that last part that I abandoned my trip to the grocery store and followed the SUV. Not for long—I don’t know what I thought I was going to do! Interrogate the driver?—but I so wanted to know what that grandfather couldn’t forgive. I guess writers find their stories in the world by seeing things that intrigue them, but don’t worry, I didn’t stalk the SUV more than a few blocks; I came to my senses and went on to the grocery store. Then, in the spring of that same year, the third experience started: a friend of mine who’s a university provost (we live in a college town) lost her mind and brought home four baby chicks. Yes, live ones. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, and no, she didn’t know anything about raising chickens. Well, the learning curve was steep and it was great fun watching all the mistakes she made (for one, mistaking the chicken that was actually a rooster for a hen–it’s illegal to have a rooster within city limits for the obvious reason, and she wanted hens anyway because she likes eggs!). I couldn’t let all that accidental learning I’d done go to waste; I had to use my new expertise about chickens in a novel. Although I was smart enough to make the setting something sensible, like a farm. If you read THE TESTAMENT Of HAROLD’S WIFE, you’ll be able to see how subtly each of these real-life events got transformed into story.
What would you like your readers to take away from your stories?
- I would like my readers to feel uplifted and hopeful, to have laughed heartily, and to have experienced what Booklist called “a blend of humor and heartbreak” which is what I think we need to find to get through life with sensitivity and compassion.
What is a typical day in the life of Lynne Hugo?
- A typical day in my life includes going to the gym for water aerobics, working on the next novel for most of the day, a late afternoon hike out in the forest with my yellow Lab, Scout, throwing a tennis ball ahead so that he runs probably ten miles to my two miles hiked. A fabulous retriever, he also specializes in finding disgusting things to roll in so that I will have to get him down to the little singing river that runs through our woods and throw the ball in six or seven times; he loves to swim for it, which gives him a de facto bath. After the hike, I come home and have a glass of wine with my photographer husband—who by then will have come home from his studio. He may or may not have done the hike with the Scout…and then one of us will make dinner and the other does the clean up. (My standards on the clean up are, shall we say, somewhat higher than my husband’s since they include actually washing the pots and pans.)
What do you like to do in your downtime?
4.In my downtime, I read–mostly literary fiction. I watch the news, because world affairs are important to me and I’m particularly concerned about the environment. I love to get together with friends, dinners and movies, and lively discussions. My husband and I enjoy the hikes in the woods with the dog, which refresh my spirit, and I love the water aerobics especially since the instructor plays songs from the seventies. I hate to admit how many of the lyrics I can sing. Not well, but I sing them anyway. I’m definitely a nature-lover (especially my home turf,Cape Cod but natural settings in general) and I’m sure that shows in my fiction. And I love, love, love, spending time with my kids and grandchildren, the lights of my life.
How would you like readers to connect or get in touch with you?
- If readers would like to get in touch with me, they can connect via my website, LynneHugo.com. (I’d love to invite subscribers to my very infrequent blog posts, too!) I’m on Facebook, Lynne Hugo Reader’s Page. Also Twitter @LynneHugo and Instagram, LynneHugoAuthor, although that latter needs updating badly, and I’m going to try to get to it this weekend. But I’m immersed in writing the next novel, which is a stand-alone follow-up to THE TESTAMENT OF HAROLD’S WIFE, meaning it’s not a sequel but it has the same characters. The working title is THE BOOK OF CAROLSUE, but just yesterday I started considering changing that to THE BOOK OF SMALL GRACES. Obviously, it’s very much a work in progress. I love to hear from readers and am very good about responding. Thank you so much for being interested and caring.
Thank you Lynne for such an informative and enjoyable interview!!!!