About the book: (from Amazon)
Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April's brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April - and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to "save" his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own--secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fiancé. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April's life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral...towards salvation.
About the author:
A painter, teacher and mother of twins, Tess Callahan has written for Cottonwood, The Stylus Anthology: 1950-2000, The Boston College Magazine, New York Newsday and elsewhere through syndication. When not exploring the complex motivations of intriguing characters (in her personal life and in her work), she finds nourishment and sustenance in periodic travels to wild, austere landscapes around the world. Tess has an MFA in Fiction from Bennington College. April & Oliver is her first novel. She can be found online at tesscallahan.com.
What Tess says:
The Origins of April & Oliver
My sister used to live in Nahant, Massachusetts, in the apartment complex on the ocean described in my novel, April & Oliver. One day, a nor’easter struck the peninsula so hard that the apartment below my sister’s was completely gutted, all of the furniture taken out to sea. As with many storms, there were reports of those who stayed in their homes. I started wondering about people who would weather a storm in a rented apartment when evacuation teams were there to take them to safety. Might someone stay not because she wanted to protect her belongings, but because she had nothing to lose? Perhaps someone who had already lost the loved one who mattered most? I started writing a scene about the mounting storm, and a woman materialized with long dark hair, calmly watching her apartment fill with water. Flashbacks revealed that the woman was thinking about her little brother, who she helped raise, and who had died in an accident. Where this came from, I don’t know; writing is mysterious that way.
The next day on the subway, a woman sat down across from me. It was her, the character in my story. I have never had this experience before or since. The woman looked and carried herself exactly as I had described the character in my scene. It gave me a jolt. She stood, got off the subway car, and I never saw her again. She was to become April.
I shared the short story at the Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference, where I had the good fortune of being assigned to a critique group led by the late Ted Solotaroff. He said, “This story wants to be a novel.” And so it began. As I wrote, however, I found that the woman’s bereft state of mind in the story was only the entry point into the novel. The dramatic storm scene that I was so proud of was the first thing to be cut. Writing is like that; you constantly have to sacrifice your little gems for the sake of the story’s true path.
I have to admit, I was initially bummed out upon starting April & Oliver. Because I'm kinda bummed about people who have kids and then don't bother to take care of them, treat them well, teach them right... It hurts to read about women who've been broken so badly that they don't know what else to do but endure. Endure and repeat. And April is one--her life has been a badly-mashed-together collage of uncaring & abusive father, dead mother, pedophile business-partner of her father's... Events set in motion while she's a teenager brings her down life's rockier paths as an adult. She can't seem to get away from abusive men, and every little act of violence tears another piece of her away...
Oliver is April's childhood best friend. He moves back to town, fiancee in tow, and meets the current April at her brother's funeral. Unable to tear himself away from the undertow of April's life, he tries to justify it by telling himself he cares about what happens to her. Which he does. More than he knows. Or wants to admit.
April & Oliver is such an engrossing book that you won't want to put it down until you're done. And even then, April & Oliver float around, and you wonder if she's finally broken her cycle. If she's going to be alright.
Hachette has one copy of Tess' April & Oliver for you, if you live in the US or Canada (no PO Boxes). To enter, comment. As always, +1 for following, +2 for sharing. Do it all before 6:00 pm CST June 23rd! Good luck!