Interview with Rita Leganski, author of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

bonaventure_rita_leganskiA while back, I reviewed The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow and told you that I loved it so much, I almost didn’t want to tell you about it. That would be silly of course, because great books need to shared.

So you can imagine how excited I was when Rita Leganski agreed to an interview for Broken Penguins! Here’s what Rita had to say about her first novel and on her next project:

BONAVENTUREDescribe the Silence of Bonaventure Arrow in 140 words:

Two months before Bonaventure Arrow is born, his father is murdered by a character known as the Wanderer. When that happens, sorrow takes away unborn Bonaventure’s voice and replaces it with magical hearing. What follows is a tale of heartbreak, guilt, and atonement gone wrong. But then there is healing, brought about by this silent and gifted little boy who shares his name with a mystic-turned-saint.

The story is an exploration of human nature—its guilt, its envy, and its willingness to judge. But it tells as well of our better attributes—compassion, forgiveness, and a willingness to let go. There are a number of universal truths woven into THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW. Some have to do with the darker side of the human experience, while others speak of the very best in humanity; namely, our capacity to love.

Bonaventure takes place in a fictional Louisiana town called Bayou Cymbaline. I’ve noticed that you’re a big Southern lit fan even though you’re from Wisconsin. I’m a big Southern fiction fan too and I’m from Toronto! What attracts you and other “literary snowbirds” to this genre?

While I was growing up in northern Wisconsin, I thought of the South as an enchanted place and of New Orleans as the very embodiment of magic. I suppose it was the thought of all that lushness contrasted with the long northern winters with their vast expanses of snow. Southern literature also tends to revolve around really quirky characters. We literary snowbirds must harbor a liking for peculiarity.

Bonaventure has two very religious grandmothers! Do you consider yourself a religious or spiritual person? How did this influence the novel?

Yes, I would describe myself as religious (I’m a practicing Catholic). Through various characters, I tried to show not only how religion SHOULD influence us, but also how it SHOULD NOT. I integrated Catholicism and hoodoo spirituality in the character of Trinidad Prefontaine in order to reveal that goodness is not confined to one set of beliefs.

Do you believe in magic?

It’s a favorite writing tool of mine, but I don’t really believe in magic. I do, however, believe in divine intervention.

You mentioned on Twitter that it was -50 degrees where you were during the recent cold snap! What did you do during this time? What would Bonaventure and Dancy do?

I spent those frigid days working on the next novel. I drank hot tea and stayed toasty warm in my sweaters and jeans and thick socks and puffy slippers. Bonaventure and Dancy would make the spiciest gumbo they could possibly come up with in an effort to get warm from the inside out.

What’s next for Rita Leganski? Can we look forward to another novel? Please say yes!

I’m working very hard on another novel. Although it’s not a sequel to Bonaventure Arrow, it’s magical realism again but this time a love story. It takes place from 1916 – 1946.

Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us Rita! I look forward to reading your next novel and hopefully, the many more to follow. 

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Out of the Easy: Tough-talkin’, gunslingin’, wanna-be college girl

Out of the Easy CoverThank you to Penguin for sending me a copy of Out of the Easy in exchange for an honest review.

I meant to read Out of the Easy sooner after receiving it in my swag bag at last year’s Ontario Book Bloggers Meet-Up but I ended up moving, traveling and changing jobs — which completely derailed all my reading and blogging plans.

But I’m really glad I finally read Ruta Septys’ Out of the Easy. Based in 1950’s New Orleans, Josie Moraine is a teenager hoping to get into college. Her mother is a prostitute at a whore house run by a tough lady named Willie. Josie opts out of her mother’s lifestyle by working at a bookstore — but the temptation of easy money follows her every move.

OVER_voodooThis is a fun YA-novel with a cast of colourful characters. Josie is fantastically strong and weak at all the right times. Willie is wise beyond her years. Love interest Patrick starts off boring but ends up somewhat interesting. Love interest no. 2 Jesse starts off interesting but ends up boring. Cokie delivers some hilarious lines but Josie’s nut job mother has a few of her own. I loved the mentions of voodoo folklore like the black hand — which I only knew about from playing Monkey Island.

The first few chapters in, I rolled my eyes a little bit because it seemed so unrealistic: A prostitute’s daughter with a heart of gold that has helpers all over the town watching her back. Pretty unlikely story but in the end, it was just fun to see who she’d run into next. My only real disappointment was the ending. Nothing really wrapped up. It’s as if Sepetys was already thinking about a second book…

I recommend Out of the Easy to fans of The Virgin Cure, Parlor Games and Scorpio Races. Oh and Chanel Bonfire if you enjoy bad and beautiful mothers.

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Photo credit: etsy.com, etsy.com

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