04 March 2014

Today's Read & Guest Post: The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

The Moon Sisters by Therese WalshWhat if you didn't know whether your mother's death was suicide or accident? For sheltered, unanchored Olivia and her down-to-earth sister, Jazz, grappling with that question is complicated by their father's downward spiral and their own very different ways of interpreting the world. Told in the sisters' alternating voices, the novel opens with Olivia's words:

The night before the worst day of my life, I dreamed the sun went dark and ice cracked every mirror in the house, but I didn't take it as a warning.
The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh (Random House / Crown, 2014, p. 3)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: small-town West Virgina, and beyond
  • Circumstances: two sisters coming to terms with their mother's death and a future without her take a journey to a place that may be hold some answers
  • Characters: Olivia and Jazz Moon, their parents, various characters they meet on their trip
  • Themes: grief, family, sisters, disabilities, being different, having dreams
  • Genres: contemporary fiction; coming-of-age; magical realism
  • Extras: synesthesia, growing up sheltered
Guest Post: I've only just started The Moon Sisters, but I am already feeling drawn into the world of these two very different sisters. This is a unique novel, with many elements that you don't often find in contemporary fiction. I'm so pleased Therese Walsh has stopped by to tell us about the inspiration for this moving story.
The Development of an Idea by Therese Walsh

The origins of The Moon Sisters was a mix of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

Something Old: I first learned about will-o'-the-wisp lights years ago via a word-of-the-day email. I was so fascinated with the idea of these drifting lights—which sometimes appear over bogs and are thought to lead those who follow to treasure or over a cliff’s edge, depending on the whim of the wisp—that I included them in the draft of a different story. Though I eventually abandoned that half-finished manuscript, the scene I’d written, involving a blind girl and wisp lights over a bog in West Virginia, stuck with me. Some of my critique partners nudged me over that scene, too, and said they hoped that I’d revisit it. While I never evolved the creepy scene they remembered, I did fall back in love with the concept of writing about a blind girl and beckoning lights over a bog.

Something New: After I finished writing my debut novel, I was on high lookout for fresh story ideas. I was a science major in college (I have an M.S. in psychology), and I remain fascinated with unique human behaviors and experiences. As soon as I learned about synesthesia, I knew I wanted to incorporate it into a new book. Synesthesia is a condition characterized by sensory areas that are connected in unique ways; so a person might taste music or see sound, for example.

Something old and something new merged when I realized that will-o'-the-wisp lights are also called "foolish fires." Right away, I imagined a girl with synesthesia staring at the sun, because the sun smelled like her mother, and losing her central vision (becoming legally blind) because of that act.

Something Borrowed: I borrowed heavily from what I know of sisterhood for this novel. I have two beloved sisters, and we are each very different from one another. The complexity of the sister bond and the chemistry we share when we come together—the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful—is reflected in The Moon Sisters.

Something Blue: This book is also about recovery following the death of a parent. My sisters and I felt a crash and burn of stability after our father died at the age of fifty-six, and we coped with his death in different ways. Death of a parent, especially when you’re relatively young—and my youngest sister was just sixteen when our father died—can cause you to question a lot of things, including the very meaning of life.

A Marriage of Ideas: How do these ideas meld? Two sisters—one practical, the other a sun-staring synesthete—travel to find a fabled will-o'-the-wisp light because finding one was their recently deceased mother’s unfulfilled wish. Along the way, they struggle to come to terms with each other and their memories of their mother, as they grapple with hope, dreams, and even the meaning of life, in their strange new world.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue became, over the course of four-plus years, The Moon Sisters. It was the hardest and is the truest thing I’ve ever written.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy The Moon Sisters, and that if you do, you’ll share it with a sister or two.
Thank you so much, Therese. The sister bond is always interesting to me because I have only brothers. I've heard stories about the will-o'-the-wisp and I'm intrigued that you've incorporated the legends into your contemporary novel. Can't wait to get further along in The Moon Sisters.

ISBN-13: 978030746160
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Dana Britt 3/4/14, 7:11 AM  

I've been waiting for this one! :)

bermudaonion 3/4/14, 7:41 AM  

I love the way her ideas "wed!" What a terrific guest post. I'm excited about the book!

Therese Walsh 3/4/14, 8:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim@Time2Read 3/4/14, 8:47 AM  

I'm reading this one now. Should be finished soon!
My teaser today is from Steeped in Evil.

Therese Walsh 3/4/14, 8:56 AM  

Thank you for having me, Beth!

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/4/14, 9:09 AM  

I'm halfway through The Moon Sisters and love the sisters' relationship. I enjoyed reading more on Therese's thoughts on the book.

Beth Hoffman 3/4/14, 9:11 AM  

I have this book on my "to buy" list and am eager to crack the spine!

Catherine Healey 3/4/14, 9:14 AM  

I featured this book in a recent Waiting on Wednesday post. It's on my TBR list.

My Tuesday post: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2014/03/first-chapter-first-paragraph-52.html

Cheryl 3/4/14, 9:34 AM  

This book sounds fascinating. Excellent guest post, too. I lost my mother when I was a young teen, so I know exactly what the author is talking about. This book is going on my wish list.

Hope you'll visit me at http://www.thebusymomsdaily.com/2014/03/teaser-tuesdays-march-4.html

Harvee Lau 3/4/14, 9:36 AM  

Can't wait to read this one!
Book Dilettante

Peggy Farooqi 3/4/14, 11:02 AM  

I work in the Coroner's Office, so Suicide or Accident?? is our daily job… but it's always nice for me to read a fictional story who is dealing with that very question and the fall-outs (or coming together) etc within a family.

Tea norman 3/4/14, 11:05 AM  

Synethesia is a really interesting term. Smell what we see and see what we hear, it's fascinating. I've never heard this term. Without looking at it, I'm not sure whether it's spelled correctly. Wonder what did happen to the mother. I would love to read The Moon Sisters.

Nise' 3/4/14, 12:14 PM  

I've got this book sitting on my stack. I am looking forward to reading it.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 3/4/14, 12:20 PM  

I've been seeing this one around so much lately - I love the opening. I would keep reading - and I'm going to add this to my TBR list.
Here's Mine: http://www.sarahsbookshelves.com/memoirs/first-chapter-first-paragraph-tuesday-intros-shadows-sun-gayathri-ramprasad/

Trish 3/4/14, 12:30 PM  

I just received a copy of this one so what a treat to read a little more of the inspiration! Having two sisters and two daughters I'm looking forward to Walsh's sisterly story.

cynthiastacey.com 3/4/14, 12:39 PM  

Wow great teaser! Sounds like good reading. Here is my TT http://cynthiastacey.com/2014/03/04/teaser-tuesday-mar-4/

Sandra Nachlinger 3/4/14, 12:45 PM  

I enjoyed reading the author's comments about her book. Thank you for including them. This sounds like exactly the kind of book I adore.
My Teaser is from SPARE CHANGE.

Margot 3/4/14, 10:29 PM  

I've been hearing that this novel is very good. Thanks for featuring it and the guest post.

Udita Banerjee 3/5/14, 2:32 AM  

How ominous...

Daryl 3/5/14, 11:24 AM  

i had no idea there was a name for it .. i often 'taste' color

Vasilly 3/5/14, 3:43 PM  

What a lovely post! I can't wait to read this now.

kelley jensen 3/5/14, 6:15 PM  

It does sound interesting, I'll watch for your review. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

Julie P. 3/6/14, 9:19 AM  

I can't wait to read this one! Great guest post.

Anita LeBeau 3/6/14, 12:23 PM  

I have this book, and I want to enjoy it because I understand and admire the sister bond, I have two sisters and our relationships are as different as night and day. I love Therese's input on writing the book, so interesting.
Great post today:).

heathertlc 3/9/14, 5:16 PM  

Thanks for featuring Therese for the tour!

Suko 4/3/14, 2:22 AM  

"It was the hardest and is the truest thing I’ve ever written." Yes, this book feels very honest and very real. Wonderful guest post!

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