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The Garden of Dead Dreams
eBook: EPUB, MOBI, PDF
Kindle ASIN: B00L3NJUDG
June 19, 2014
Official Book Webpage
Full description, online store listings and other information: http://abbyquillen.com/godd
A spellbinding mystery about the price we pay for keeping secrets for fans of literary whodunits like Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, Carol Goodman’s mysteries, and David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars. The Garden of Dead Dreams explores whether it’s possible to remake our lives when no one can erase the past.
Vincent Buchanan was one of America’s most cherished authors. His 1943 novel The Western Defense is not only considered a work of literary genius; it may have helped the United States triumph against Japan in the Second World War.
Nearly seventy years after its release, twenty-eight-year-old Etta Lawrence is a student at the prestigious creative writing academy the late Buchanan founded in a majestic lodge tucked beneath Oregon’s fog-laced Douglas firs and Western red cedars. She’s intent on rewriting her life by winning the coveted Buchanan Prize, a ticket to literary stardom.
Then a handsome visiting poet arrives at the academy, and Etta’s bubbly roommate Olivia latches onto him and begins acting distant, disturbed, and hysterical. Etta peeks through her roommate’s belongings and stumbles onto a revelation about Buchanan’s personal life that could change the way people think about the famous author.
Etta’s convinced the discovery may be connected to the poet’s arrival and Olivia’s troubling behavior. She enlists two of her smart, quirky classmates to help her investigate. They find clues in the scenes of one of Buchanan’s short stories, the academy’s dusty administration files, and a dilapidated pioneer cemetery on the school grounds.
But as Etta twists through the murky forest of Buchanan’s past, she has more to lose than just her chances of starting over. Someone at the isolated academy is deadly serious about keeping Buchanan’s personal history private.
Tags & Keywords
• literary mystery
• psychological mystery
• gothic thriller
• women sleuths
• literary suspense
• women’s action adventure
Abby Quillen is the author of the novel The Garden of Dead Dreams and the editor of two anthologies, Deeper into the Heart of the Rockies and Dispatches from the High Country. Her articles and essays have appeared in YES! Magazine and The Christian Science Monitor and on Common Dreams, Nation of Change, Reader Supported News, The Daily Good, Truthout, and Shareable.net. She lives with her family in Eugene, Oregon and loves connecting with readers at her website abbyquillen.com.
You can find a list of previous appearances at http://abbyquillen.com/interviews-and-press/
Sample question and answer for Abby Quillen
Q: What inspired you to write the novel?
A: I’ve always loved atmospheric mysteries where the detective solves a puzzle through historical and literary documents. I inhaled Possession by A.S. Byatt, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Carol Goodman’s mysteries, Lady of the Snakes by Rachel Pastan and similar works. Meanwhile my husband attended a small, intimate master’s program when he got his teaching degree, and I had many friends who were attending a small great books school in town. So I was fascinated by the dynamics of small academic settings. For years, I was obsessed with learning to write fiction, and I took classes and read every book and website I could find about it. Needless to say, I became very familiar with the language of teaching writing. So a small creative writing academy seemed like the perfect setting. As far as the plot line, it was in part inspired by Donald V. Coerrs arguments in John Steinbeck Goes to War: The Moon is Down as Propoganda. The rest came together as I wrote.
Q: Many of the characters in The Garden of Dead Dreams are trying to create new lives for themselves. What interested you about that theme?
A: I studied history in college, and I’m interested in how people relate to their individual and cultural past. Do our pasts make us who we are? Can we escape our pasts, as societies often try to do when they lose a war? Moreover, my mom and aunt studied our genealogy, and like many people, they uncovered something unexpected. One of our ancestors made a conscious decision to remake herself. But eventually the secret came out. It made me reflect on whether it’s really possible to escape the past.
Q: The book takes place at a writer’s academy. Have you attended one?
A: No, the Buchanan Academy is purely fictional and mostly based on anecdotes from friends about various writing programs and isolated communities, accounts I’ve read, and a healthy dose of imagination. Recently I had the pleasure of sitting next to a talkative young woman who’s attending a prominent writing academy. I was struck by how much it sounded like the Buchanan Academy, but I’m sure it’s quite different too.
Q: You’ve worked as a freelance magazine writer. How is that different from writing a novel?
A: I started writing a novel the day after I graduated from college, and have been writing novels on and off for the thirteen years since. (It takes a lot of practice, apparently!) I started writing magazine articles about five years ago, after I had my first son. I love writing both, and they complement each other well. Knowing how to set a scene, draw vivid characters, and use dialogue makes an article come to life. And good research and interview skills make for more realistic fiction. Freelancing writing has also helped me hone my business and marketing skills — a definite necessity for novelists these days.
Q: Petra Atwell is a memorable character. Where did you draw your inspiration for her?
A: I was surprised by how many early readers fell in love with Petra Atwell. A few said that Petra is their hero. She is the book’s truth teller, and she says things as they are regardless of others’ feelings. Apparently that’s a trait many people respect. Writing fiction is as close to magic as anything I know, and amazingly Petra sort of introduced herself to me fully-formed. Thus I can’t really say what inspired her, except that I imagine most of us have some Petra Atwell in us. Perhaps too often, though, we censor that side of ourselves.
Q: You’ve called the book a literary mystery. What does that mean?
A: My goal was to write an entertaining page-turner with a rich plot, a beach read if you will, so I hesitate to call it literary, since that term holds the opposite connotation for a lot of people. I only use it to let readers know that this is a puzzle solved through literature — poems, stories, books, and historical documents. These are my favorite kinds of mysteries to read. I love real-life historical and literary research. I worked at library reference desks for many years and delighted in the academic puzzles people brought for me to help them solve. And yes, I love the show History Detectives.
Q: What are your favorite books, and who are your favorite authors?
Having worked at libraries for many years, I’ve helped connect countless readers with novels that suit their tastes, so I know well that not all books appeal to all people. If you enjoy the same books as I do, you will probably enjoy The Garden of Dead Dreams. I tend to love books that lurk somewhere between genre and literary. I loved A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Carol Goodman’s mysteries, David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, Tobias Wolff’s Old School, Rachel Pastan’s Lady of the Snakes, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and The Goldfinch, Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, books by Chris Bohjalian, Liane Moriarty, and so, so many more. (Other readers have compared The Garden of Dead Dreams to books by Kate Morton and Susanna Kearsley.) Like most readers, I’m discovering more indie writers these days, like Orna Ross, Roz Morris, and Toby Neal. I talk about books on Goodreads, and I’d love to connect with readers there.
Q: What can readers expect to see from you next?
I’m working on a new mystery series featuring Lennon Emberley, a San Francisco investigative journalist who is solving mysteries while grappling with the massive changes happening in journalism right now. The first book will hopefully be out this fall. You can subscribe to my newsletter for occasional updates.