On April 19, 2016 New York Times bestselling author Tanya Anne Crosby will release The Girl Who Stayed, a novel that charts a new high point in an already lofty writing career. The book will be published by the boutique publisher The Story Plant, a house with a reputation for encouraging writers to spread their literary wings. This marks a reunion between Tanya and Story Plant Publisher Lou Aronica, who worked with Tanya all the way back at the start of her career. Here’s a conversation between Tanya and Lou presented exclusively for the Kobo audience.
Tanya: I have to admit I was a bit anxious about embarking on a whole new genre. Not only was I nervous about how my established audience would perceive this new story, but I wasn’t entirely sure I could do it. Aside from that, I have the greatest admiration for you as both a writer and a publisher and found myself wondering what it was you saw in my writing that made you feel I could do this. I didn’t want to let you down. But once I started writing, it truly was like opening a vein and it felt second-nature to me. I think the one thing you hope for as a storyteller is that, as you’re writing, the characters in your story will take over and tell their own tale, and that you, as the writer, get to follow along as a bit of an exuberant cheerleader. That’s what happened here; The Girl Who Stayed took on a life of its own. Though I can’t help but wonder, still, what it was you saw in my writing and in my storytelling?
Lou: I think you hit on exactly what I saw. From the first time I read your work, your characters were SO alive. You do this overwhelmingly better than most writers. In my experience, that’s an entirely transferable talent – if you write great characters in one genre, you’re likely to be able to write great characters in any genre. I recall a conversation a few years back when you were writing Lady’s Man for one of the Novelists Inc. anthologies. You said that you felt yourself being pulled in new directions as a writer. Once you expressed that interest, I knew a novel like The Girl Who Stayed was inevitable.
That said, I didn’t expect you to try something so ambitious the first time out. You’re working with some very powerful themes in The Girl Who Stayed. Why did you want to explore these?
Tanya: I’m not sure I realized it was ambitious. I just knew it was a story I had to tell. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of closure. Why some people get it? Why some people don’t? What does it mean exactly? And why is it so difficult to move on without it? The first scene that came to me in this story is really the last scene in the book. For the sake of my readers I won’t elaborate here, but I heard these words from a good friend, who said, “At some point, you have to give up hope for a better yesterday.” Don’t we all sort of cling to that as we go through life? Wanting our past to be something it wasn’t?
Lou: I think closure is one of the great universal themes. I don’t think there’s anyone who can’t relate to the longing to bring some sense of resolution to the inflection points in their lives. You also spend some wonderful moments in this novel talking about the meaning of home, which happens to be one of my favorite themes. Zoe returns to the place where she grew up but hasn’t considered home for a long time. She needs to close up her family home. The house is now an anomaly in the neighborhood. What drove your fascination with this theme?
Tanya: As a military brat, I had to come to terms very early in my life that, in fact, home is where the heart is, and sometimes the heart winds up in unexpected places. But equally as important, it’s too easy to “throw the baby out with the bath water” so to speak. Life in that house might have been difficult for Zoe, but the things that made her who she was were also “back there”—in that house. I think she could go on to be a whole human being once she re-embraces that part of herself she tried to leave behind. I have to say, I’m grateful to The Story Plant for allowing me to explore some of these more challenging themes.
Lou: We couldn’t be happier. One more question: do you see yourself continuing in this mode (please say yes)?
Tanya: I don’t even have to think about the answer, Lou. Absolutely. It felt very natural to me to tell this kind of story. And besides, I have never had such a sense of mutual respect and partnership in this business as I do with The Story Plant (and you, of course). I would say I’m “all in.” The next book is already begging for attention.
Tanya Anne Crosby has written numerous historical romances, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and Waldenbooks and B Dalton’s Top 10. She has received high-level publicity in magazines, such as People, Romantic Times and Publisher’s Weekly, and her books have been translated into eight languages: Russian, Italian, Chinese, French, German and Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese.
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