Friday, September 23, 2011

Guest Post: Author Patty Friedmann and Taken Away.

I'd like to welcome Author Patty Friedmann to Angels Cove and welcome her for our very first Guest Post!

In the midst of the biggest natural disaster in American history--Hurricane Katrina--15-year-old Summer "Sumbie" Elmwood's two-year-old sister disappears from the hospital after open-heart surgery and Sumbie is the prime suspect. But in the chaos of New Orleans after the storm, no one is looking for just one little girl. Sumbie must find her missing sister and enlists her two would-be boyfriends to help her, hoping against hope that it's not too late.
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From Patty....
TAKEN AWAY--But Staying in New Orleans

I never learned to touch type. So during my early neurotic years of writing I sometimes wondered what I would do if I lost my eyesight. I wouldn't be able to put words on paper. Then my grandmother had symptoms of dementia, and I let my neurotic worries shift to thoughts of not writing because I'd lose my mental faculties.
Never in all the time I was writing novels--darkly comic, highly acclaimed, literary, New Orleans-set novels--did it occur to me that I might not be able to write because something would happen outside of myself.
Then it did.

Hurricane Katrina came tearing through my hometown. I stayed for the storm because, rightly so, it wasn't a big deal. The flood that followed, though, was a very big deal. I was trapped, and my city was ruined. A lot of New Orleans is rebuilt now, but the real people here, the true characters who make up the deep-down character of the city that only born-natives understand, well, we're what what one my novels called "a little bit ruined."

As a writer after the storm, as a woman with PTSD, I've been "a little bit ruined." My landscape was gone.

I didn't think I'd write again until agent Charlotte Sheedy came to town with her client Eve Ensler ("The Vagina Monologues") and took me to breakfast and gave me a dutch uncle talk. "Write a young adult novel about a baby who disappears during Katrina," she said.

I'm sure Charlotte, like every New Yorker and out-of-towner in general, expected I'd do a novel about a black child who disappears in the Superdome. But that wasn't what I knew. I knew what it was like to wade in four feet of water in uptown, what it was like to be trapped for a week in 95 degrees in the open part of the city. What happened to white people who might have had resources at one time, but had none after the storm. I wrote about a girl whose baby sister has open-heart surgery three days before Katrina, then disappears in the hospital the night the storm hits.
Taken Away has bits of romance and lots of mystery in it. But as far as I'm concerned, it's my way of using my old voice on my old New Orleans streets to tell a family story that only a native would know to tell.

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1 comment:

  1. Great guest post! Patty is one of my "clients" and it's great to see her here!