A 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:
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.