Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest: Liza Gyllenhaal, author of So Near

Today, it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome Liza Gyllenhaal to Pudgy Penguin Perusals. Let's welcome Liza as she tells us a little bit about the story's location in her exciting new book, So Near.

Liza Gyllenhaal author of So Near

I see from Kaye’s biography that she hails from Massachusetts — but that she finally got fed up with shoveling snow and shivering through weeks of zero degree temperatures.  Boy, do I understand! 

            I actually choose to make Massachusetts my second home, commuting from New York City up to the Berkshires for long weekends, throughout the year. With its rolling hills, meadows, and many working farms, the area reminds me a lot of the small town in Pennsylvania where I was raised.  Somehow, I can think more clearly there than in the city, breathe in the air more deeply, and appreciate the unique pleasure of being so close to nature.  Spring, though brief, is lovely.  Summer a dream.  Fall like something off a Norman Rockwell wall calendar. Winter, however, technically three months long, tends to feel more like a whole year.

            Snow begins to fall in early November.  Most of the neighbors on our dirt road close up their homes and disappear until the following Memorial Day.  A frigid silence and sense of isolation descend.  I suppose a normal person would find it depressing. As a fiction writer, however, I see it as a godsend.  No distractions. No excuses.  The garden doesn’t call for me out the studio window.  The phone rarely rings.  From early January, through most of March, I’m able to write almost nonstop.  And, because my novels are set in the Berkshires, I’m able to delve down deep into my sense of what makes the area unique: its natural beauty, its complicated mix of locals and weekenders, its colorful history that reaches back to the pre-colonial days of the Stockbridge Indians. 

            My new novel So Near takes place in a fictional town in the Berkshires at the beginning of the current recession, and the tough stretch the area is still experiencing permeates the story. So Near is about a marriage that is being tested to its limits — and how, in the midst of tragedy — two people struggle to find their way. The novel explores a lot of the things that I hope resonate pretty deeply these days: getting through difficult times, staying true to our best selves, learning to let go of anger and guilt, and trying to find the true meaning of love and forgiveness.  I also hope So Near communicates the love I feel for the Berkshires hills — even in the midst of winter — when the world seems stripped down to its basic components: a snow-covered mountain, a blue jay in the hemlock tree, a cup of coffee, and a keyboard.

 Thank you so much, Liza, for visiting and sharing your thoughts with us today. Your snow covered landscape with grey skies over head almost made me shiver. I remember those scenes so well. Your winters in the beautiful Berkshires are likely longer than what we were used to. We lived on the South Shore about 45 minutes south of Boston.

Be sure to look for Liza's book, So Near, with it's gorgeous cover. Liza is a Goodreads author and more info can be found on her Goodreads page or on her website. Here's a little info from the publisher about Liza's book:

Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by NAL Trade
ISBN: 045123457X (ISBN13: 9780451234575)

In the aftermath of a devastating loss, Cal and Jenny Horigan's marriage is unraveling. Both are plagued by guilt, unable to seek comfort from one another. Burdened by remorse, they begin to lose sight of the love that once anchored them-together with their sense of right and wrong.

As the Horigans try different ways to deal with their pain, a new acquaintance seems to offer the support they desperately need-though at times they are unsure whether his guidance is leading them back to each other or further apart...


  1. The setting seems perfect for this novel. It sounds like a very emotional book. I'll watch for it.

  2. Oh, I would love to live in an area where the seasons actually changed noticeably. Here in Florida, it is mostly hot and humid, and I long for a little snow. It sounds like Liza has it made when that snow starts falling! Great guest post today!

  3. The photos accompanying this guest post are wonderful! I love the wildflowers bhind lis, gorgeous and the untouched, pristine snow with the barn in the background is fantastic.

    It sounds like Liza's home in the Berkshires is the perfect writing spot in dead of winter. I'm not sure I'd want to be that isolated for 3 or 4 months but I would love to stay in a place like it for a while!

  4. There are times when that isolation sounds good to me. I can't imagine all the snow, though.

  5. I can see where the long, quiet winter would make for a great time to write. The beautiful setting makes for great inspiration. This looks like a very good emotional read. I'll have to keep am eye out for it.

  6. I'm not a writer, but honestly, having that lovely solitude for such a stretch of time sounds heavenly!

  7. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful responses to my post. Believe me, I do feel lucky to have such a lovely escape hatch — and in such a beautiful part of the world. I hope you'll enjoy SO NEAR — please let me know what you think!

  8. What a thoughtful and lovely guest post. I love that she took the time to see where you were from and incorporated that into her post. So nice! And I imagine there aren't many distractions in the winter.


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