Hello all! I’m very pleased to have Mary Kennedy Eastham with me today.
Ceri: Welcome to my blog, Mary. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Mary: My heartloves are my Golden Retrievers – Sabrina, JoJo, Oliver & Jack Tru. I grew up near Boston and have lived in New York City, San Francisco and Malibu. I was married for 20 years. Our time together ended, but I will never regret the fun adventure that was our life. I love beaches so much, I built a faux beach in the back yard of my house in San Jose.
What else – I’m an author of The Shadow of a Dog I Can’t Forget (now in its Fifth printing) and fingers crossed will be releasing a collection of short stories titled Squinting Over Water in July. I love writing so much, I try to inspire others by Guest Lecturing and Guest Blogging whenever I can.
Ceri: Wow! That’s fantastic. Sounds like you’ve lived in quite an eclectic variety of locations. Your faux beach sounds fascinating. Where do you get your inspirations for your stories?
Mary: The thing I find most enchanting about writing is that nothing is ever lost on a writer. Without sometimes realizing it, we are always on the lookout for things we can use in our stories. I keep a Fragment File, a suggestion of the great poet Kate Braverman, where I put snippets of interesting conversations – the silly things people say that you just can’t make up. I try to read the Sunday NY and LA Times where intriguing story ideas are rampant. Good writers steal and I’m no exception! I even read the Wedding Vows section for cool character names and interesting backstory ideas. I drive to LA with my dogs now and then. When I stop off to get gas, I’ve even found great ideas on Church billboards and gas station bathroom walls.
Ceri: You’re giving us great ideas for places to look. Gas station bathroom walls? Love it! And your Fragment File idea is brilliant! I have a prompt folder, but this would be a terrific addition. If your book was going to be made into a movie who would play your characters?
Mary: I’ll use my third book, a novella, The Girl With Sand in Her Hair to answer this question. The book’s tagline is: A surfer girl finds herself drawn to a boy afraid of the water. The premise: Both children of divorce, Pippa Arabella Swann and Billy Blinker love each other. They really do. But she’s obsessed with surfing and her singing career and he’s terrified of open water and is ready to be a Dad. When a little girl goes missing in their beachside town of Amelia Bay, they set out to rescue her, finding the common ground of their cherished love along the way. TA DA – Pippa could be played by the actress Felicity Jones from 2011’s romantic drama Like Crazy. For Billy Blinker hands down it would be Channing Tatum from The Vow and the upcoming movie Magic Mike.
Ceri: What a great premise! And perfect selection of characters. Can’t argue with Channing Tatum! What inspired your latest story?
Mary: I love athletics and anyone with passion for athletics which is why my heart broke a little when I heard that freeskier Sarah Burke died this January during a practice run for the Winter X Games. Sarah was everything – beautiful, athletically talented and just a nice person. I met her once during an LA fundraiser and she just really made an impression on me. She was married to freeskier Rory Bushfield. They seemed so in love. Anyway, I wanted to write an enduring love story maybe a little for Sarah and a little for me so that spirit and energy has fueled my first novella The Girl With Sand in Her Hair. I feel like Sarah is empowering me to finish the story. She pushed so hard to get freeskiing for women in the Winter 2013 Olympics, I’m using that event as a deadline of sorts to finish the book.
Ceri: That is very inspiring and heartbreaking all at once. What else do you like to do besides write?
Mary: I love working out – running, Pure Barre, Zumba, throwing frisbees for my dogs while running back and forth in our long driveway really really fast. I love music. I’ve sung professionally and I miss it. Oh how I wish I was younger and could perform on Duets with John Legend. I love design. My friend and I take her two kids over to Santa Cruz and while they read kiddie books, we drool over the layouts in the European design mags. My favorite favorite place is Cooper Garrod Farms – I get to be around horses, which I love, my Daddy and I rode horses when I was a little girl and at Cooper-Garrod I can ride and then end the day with a glass of Chardonnay from their Wine Tasting room. I’m a curious person, I truly love so many things about this beautiful world, especially people watching.
Ceri: I am officially jealous. Can’t sing (well) though I’ve always wanted to and I want to visit Cooper-Garrod Farms. Horses were always a passion of mine growing up and what a perfect way to spend the day! Okay, now answer each of the following:
Pick one word to describe yourself: VIVACIOUS
Favorite animal: GOLDEN RETRIEVERS
Favorite comfort food: My Nana and my Daddy taught me to make the yummiest mash potatoes.
Favorite season: SUMMER
Favorite book: It’s really hard to find but I read it again and again – Advice to a Young Wife from an Old Mistress as told to Michael Drury.
Favorite movie: The Sound of Music. I watch it every Christmas. It reminds me of my Mother who died too young. I grew up on Sound of Music.
If I wasn’t a writer what would I do? First let me tell you what I HAVE done: I’ve been an Assistant Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City – so so fun. I’ve been President of a small town museum here in California – I met so many really great people. The politics was not fun, though. I’ve been a singing bartender, a dog walker, an advertising copywriter. That seems like enough for now! If I had a magic wand I would spread fairy dust on everyone and give them abundant self-love. It would end the wars of the world.
Best vacation ever: My honeymoon. We went to eight countries and were just so very very happy.
Book Decription: Squinting Over Water & Selected Stories
Here’s what Ann Humphreys of The SUN said about my short story Squinting Over Water: You have real gifts. I am drawn to your measured, deliberate, packed style. I loved this story.
Woman with good speaking voice wanted to record intimacy tapes.
Twenty dollars an hour. Freelancers welcome…
I collect the skin. I push what customers won’t eat into the trash with my bare hands. I’m a waitress. I used to be a singer. On my slow days, I kiss the cheeks of men who sit for hours sipping the same cup of coffee, men with whiskers the color of dirty straw. I see myself in their eyes.
A woman sneezing all over her peach cobbler is trying to get my attention. Pam, one of the best waitresses in the place, can see I’m not in the mood and steps in to rescue me. We do this for one another sometimes. I whisper ‘thanks’ and walk past her to the back of the restaurant. People’s faces come at me like distorted images from a Dali painting. In a few minutes the muscles of my throat will constrict, like I’ve swallowed a handful of nails. My inclination is to cough roughly which never really helps. If I hold my breath and swallow hard, I get the hiccups. A year ago, I buried my best friend Emily. I can tell you this, death has a long memory.
How do we find you?
Mary Kennedy Eastham on FB/I just created a Fan Page
@WordActress on Twitter
Amazon: The Shadow of a Dog I Can’t Forget
Thanks so much for coming by today, Mary. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it!