According to debut novelist, Seré Prince Halverson: “I became a writer because I loved to write, and I was blessed with an utter lack of any other talent.”
If true, what a gift the author’s one talent is as it shines through her recently released The Underside of Joy. A one sentence description of the book notes:
Set against the backdrop of Redwood forests and shimmering vineyards, Seré Prince Halverson’s compelling debut tells the story of two women, bound by an unspeakable loss, who each claims to be the mother of the same two children.
Deservedly earned glowing praise:
“Halverson’s gloriously down-to-earth novel is so pitch perfect that as readers reluctantly reach the last page, wanting more, they will have to take it on faith that this really is her first fiction.”–Library Journal, Starred Review
“…As she mines the family secrets her characters hold close and how those affect their relationships with one another, Halverson proves she’s a wordsmith and a storyteller to keep an eye on.”–Bookpage, Fiction Top Pick
“A poignant debut about mothers, secrets and sacrifices…Halverson avoids sentimentality, aiming for higher ground in this lucid and graceful examination of the dangers and blessings of familial bonds.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Halverson paints a lovely picture of small-town life and intimate family drama…Nuanced characters and lack of cliché make for a winning debut.”–Publishers Weekly
“Halverson’s debut novel marks her as a strong new voice in women’s fiction…this would make an excellent book-club choice.”–Booklist
The Divining Wand has scheduled a return visit from Seré Prince Halverson on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 but — in the meantime — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio….in her own words.
I am from a lot of places, but I now live in Northern California and it feels like home. I worked for 20 years as a freelance copywriter while I wrote fiction and raised kids. My husband and I have four grown children. I’m a mom and a stepmom, and I have a mom and a stepmom. The Underside of Joy is my debut novel.
Piqued your interest? Let’s get to know Seré even better:
How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. This crazy plot finally seems to be working.
What is your motto or maxim?
A. Never, never, never, never give up. (Via my dear friend Elle Newmark, via Winston Churchill)
How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. I don’t think the most genuine happiness is perfect. Hence, the title of my book! That said, my yellow Lab, Stuart, seems to experience pure, perfect happiness when chasing a tennis ball. And I feel something close to it when watching him.
What’s your greatest fear?
A. The same as any mother’s fear.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. I love many different places, but I feel most at home right here in the writing studio my husband and family recently built for me, overlooking a forest and vineyard.
With whom in history do you most identify?
A. I enjoy reading journals and biographies of writers. No matter their gender, or the time period, I can almost always identify with some aspect of their lives and struggles. John Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel, for one.
Which living person do you most admire?
A. I stand in awe of teachers.
What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. Just, Very, Um, So, Wonderful. I know! Really? Really! And then a couple of the four-letter variety, which I just really should stop saying.
If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Oh, to be able to sing and to speak several languages! My novel will be published in 13 languages, and I’m thrilled because that’s the closest I’ll ever come to being multi-lingual.
What is your greatest achievement?
A. The Underside of Joy. And my kids. (I don’t think I “achieved” them, but I’m very proud of them.)
What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Disorganization: My purse, my closet, my desk, my computer, my mind. My kitchen cupboards, however, aren’t bad. I have no idea why they’ve escaped the madness.
What’s your best quality?
What do you regret most?
A. That I wasn’t able to publish my novel before my dad died. He would have gotten such a kick out of this.
If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. I like being me, even though it can be, shall we say, challenging.
What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I don’t think there’s any one thing…but I do smile a lot.
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Cal/Calliope in Middlesex
Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. The Grinch. I know that’s not very literary sounding, but he’s my favorite.
If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Joe Montana. “Hi Joe, you look just like my husband’s Joe Montana Christmas tree ornament. Are you up for surprising your biggest fan?”
What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. The toilet seat thing. Left up afterward or down during and—ugh—wet afterward. Come on, guys. And drivers who tail too closely, especially on dark, rainy, twisty roads with deer crossing signs posted everywhere. Back off. And please click down your brights. Thank you very much.
What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Reading or going for a walk.
What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Other than being a novelist? Singer/Songwriter
What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Honesty, compassion, and a sense of humor.
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Dungeness crab. Fortunately, my husband likes to go crabbing. That’s if you mean only one ingredient. If you mean one type of food, I’d say sushi. I get serious, debilitating sushi cravings.
What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Five is an impossible number. I have so many favorite songs. I might have to slip in an extra and hope you don’t notice.
2,000 Miles by The Pretenders
This Must be the Place by Shawn Colvin (Talking Heads cover)
Closer to Fine by Indigo Girls (Almost anything by the Indigo Girls.)
Anchorage by Michelle Shocked
I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You by Tom Waits
Circle Game by Joni Mitchell
What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. Again, only five? You use the word “five” loosely, right?
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (When I was nine, I went to Green Gables, the home where L.M. Montgomery wrote, and I bought the book in the gift shop and still have it.)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard
Genuinely warm and wonderfully honest, Seré is a gorgeous storyteller. Discover more of these truths by becoming a friend on Facebook, visit her blog Who Moved My Buddha?, sample an excerpt from the book’s Chapter One, and then continue reading The Underside of Joy.
Announcement: The winner of Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters is: Janel. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address.
The winner of Julianna Baggott’s PURE is: Candice. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address.