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Firefly Lane Paperback – January 6, 2009
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A Conversation with Kristin Hannah
Amazon.com: Why did you choose Seattle as the backdrop for Firefly Lane? Is there something unique about growing up in the Northwest that helped you to define the kind of women Kate and Tully become?
Kristin Hannah: Quite simply, I chose Seattle as the backdrop for Firefly Lane because it's so much a part of who I am. I've lived in the Northwest for most of my life, and obviously, in all those years, I've seen this part of the country evolve from an undiscovered gem into the Emerald City. So many of the places from my youth are gone, or changed, or moved, and I guess I wanted to remember the physical reminders of those bygone days. And while Kate and Tully are absolutely Northwest girls, I like to think their story will speak to women who grew up in vastly different, more populated areas. After all, it's ultimately about friendship, and those seeds can be planted anywhere.
Amazon.com: While you were writing, at any point did you find yourself feeling more sympathetic to Kate or to Tully? How did you keep the weight of the plot balanced between them as their stories evolved?
KH: There's no way to avoid the truth that Kate is more than a little like me. Thus, I identified with her from the very beginning--she was the small town girl who had to get up in the pre-dawn hours to feed her horses, and read The Lord of the Rings during every family vacation, and felt lost in the first few months at the sprawling University of Washington. All of that was me, so naturally, the problem was not in feeling sympathetic toward Katie; it was much more about holding her at arm's length, seeing her not as an extension of myself, but as a completely fictional woman. Tully was a different story entirely. While many readers might be surprised by this, I really fell in love with Tully. In the final analysis, she's one of my favorite characters of all time. I know she's bold and selfish and myopic and ambitious to a fault, but she's also terribly broken, wounded by her parents, unable to believe in love, and ultimately very real. I think all of us know a "Tully" in our lives, and they bring a lot of drama...and a lot of fire and sparkle.
Amazon.com: You have a beautiful way of showing both the tension and tenderness between mothers and daughters. Was it a challenge to write Tully's painful history with her own mother, and later, the conflict that builds between Kate and her own daughter?
KH: Honestly, I believe that the mother-daughter relationship is magical, complex, potentially dangerous, profoundly powerful, and deeply transformative. To put it simply, all of us have this relationship, and in a very real way, "none of us comes out alive." We are all formed first as daughters and then tested as mothers. There's nothing like motherhood to make us reassess how we were as daughters. One of my favorite parts of Firefly Lane was the circle of Kates relationship with her mom. First we see her as an angry teen, slamming the door on her mother...and then later her own daughter does the same thing to her. There's a real symmetry in that, a truth that many of us have learned. I have often wished in the past few years that my mom were here to help me as I raised my own teenage son. As a girl, with my own mom, I thought I knew it all; now I know better. Somewhere, I know my mom is smiling.
Amazon.com: Throughout the novel, both Kate and Tully question the reliability of love. Is it that question that creates the rift between them and, ultimately, reunites them in friendship?
KH: You're right, they each do continually question the reliability of love. For Kate, it's a self-esteem issue. She absolutely believes in love--she's grown up surrounded by it--but she constantly questions Johnny's commitment to her. I always felt that was largely because she felt like a moon to Tully's bright and shining sun. For Tully, she honestly doesnt believe that true romantic love exists, and for all of her overblown ambition and belief in herself, she has been wounded by her mother's repeated abandonment. The result is that she feels she's unlovable.
Amazon.com: Kate and Tully are each big personalities in their own way. Was it hard to create male characters who really understand them?
KH:The challenge with regard to male characters was not so much creating men who understood Kate and Tully, it was rather to create love stories that equaled the power and emotional intensity of the friendship. After all, the men in the story were important--Johnny particularly--but it was really a story about the women.
Amazon.com: When Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone first came out, many readers were shocked that a man could write such an intimate portrait of a woman. Do you think women are in fact the best writers of women's fiction? Would you ever consider writing a novel where men take center stage?
KH: One of the great things about being a writer is that we get the chance to inhabit the minds and souls of a variety of individuals. I really don't think male/female is the central question in terms of the viability of a voice and/or vision. We writers can "become" murderers, animals, psychopaths, vampires, lawyers, doctors, wizards, children. In short, our storytelling skills and character-building abilities are limited only by our own imaginations. Until recently, most of my novels--while female-centric in vision--were equally narrated by male characters, and one--Angel Fallswas primarily narrated by men. I didn't see the writing of that any different than anything else.
Amazon.com: Do you see yourself as a writer of romance or women's fiction? What do you see as the differences in these two genres--is one an evolution of the other, or is the label unimportant?
KH: I began as a romance author and moved into women's fiction about ten years ago. While many definitions abound, mine is this: romance is a subsection of the broad, all-inclusive women's commercial fiction market. Women's fiction in general is not an evolution of romance; much of women's fiction is completely unrelated to any romantic elements. However, it is true that many current commercial women's fiction authors began in romance.
Amazon.com:Many women read fictional romance to escape the stress of everyday life and find inspiration in a happy ending. Is there a primary experience that you hope your readers will have after reading Firefly Lane?
KH: I am a sucker for a happy ending myself. In fact, my husband and I often go round and round about movies in which I hate the ending and he loves it. He always says I'm only comfortable with happy ever after, but that's not true. What I want is an emotionally satisfying, organic ending. I want to be totally engaged until the last page, and I want to believe every moment up until I close the book. Sometimes I want to laugh, sometimes I want to cry, and sometimes I want to scream that it cant really be over. (Harry Potter comes to mind on this one). The point is, I want to be moved deeply. That's what I look for in other books and what I hope to deliver in my own.
Just FYI, here are some of my favorite endings: Gone With the Wind, Middlemarch, Prince of Tides, An Inconvenient Wife, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, It, Shadow of the Wind. Some are happy, some are sad, some are bittersweet. All are memorable.
Amazon.com: If you could meet any writer, living or dead, who would it be, and what would you ask them?
KH: There are, of course, dozens of choices here, and I could certainly go through the classics and come up with many names and questions, but the truth is that I would love to sit down with Stephen King and listen to some rock and roll, and ask him how in the world he has stayed so good for so long.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Her novels Home Front and Night Road were among the first novels to appear in the #1 spot on 5 New York Times bestseller lists simultaneously. Home Front has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to write, produce, and direct.
Kristin's highly anticipated new release, The Nightingale, will be published on February 3, 2015 (St. Martin's Press). The novel --an epic love story and family drama set in France at the dawn of World War II--is a profound and compelling portrait of two estranged sisters, living in a city under siege and a country at war, where sometimes surviving means doing the unthinkable.
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Top Customer Reviews
Just what is a friend? And what would you do for your best friend? What kind of sacrifices would you make? Many of us will never find this out. But some of us will. Some of us already know. Kristin Hannah shows us with this outstanding novel what friendship really is and how it can endure over the years. She shows us the power of friendship.
Now for the a few details - without revealing so much as to rob readers of discoveries they should make themselves. Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart meet when they are in junior high - both felt they were outsiders. Tully comes into Kate's life a low point. She is the most beautiful, classiest person she has ever met - and she has moved right across the street. But Tully has a secret, one she hides with a lie. Eventually Kate learns to trust Tully and they become best of friends with a friendship that lasts through college and as their lives take very different paths. But this doesn't mean everything is always easy between the two. And it doesn't mean that one isn't jealous of the other, but it does mean that they are there for one another. Which, as the story evolves, reveals itself in a powerful way.
Those who grew up in the 70s will love the references to the songs as the decades go by. Those who grew up in the Pacific Northwest will enjoy all the references to familiar events and locations that make everything come to life and lend an air of authenticity to the novel.
I have followed Kristin Hannah's writing career from the beginning.Read more ›
1. It's a "Beaches" redux.
Two lifelong friends, seperated by a life-changing dispute, reconnected by calamity. Honestly, if you've ever read Beaches, you'll recognize every single plotline. Barely suppressed jealousy over each character's life choices (the SAHM desires the glam lifestyle, the successful journalist yearns for the SAHM's love and security), second-choice love interest, excruciatingly painful reunion... I had the "been there, done that" feeling for much of the second half of the book.
2. Epic length.
Tully's rise to fame in NYC is covered in a few short chapters, followed by several excruciatingly long chapters detailing day-to-day life of a stay-at-home mom. Kate's daughter goes from 0 to 3 in a few chapters, while Tully's escapades with her English lover are related in great detail for several long chapters.
3. Product/era placement.
Several times throughout the novel, the author goes to great lengths to identify with the era, describing clothing, music (lyrics, too!), hairstyles, trends, you name it. One or two mentions would've sufficed, but really, who needs a decade-by-decade synopsis of popularity? Stirrup pants, Madonna songs, velour bathrobes, menthol cigarettes - the mood being initially set, the author might've better served just giving us a few fleetin reminders instead of a constant barrage of pop genre.
Again, I really wanted to like this story, but was so bogged down by the details that I found myself bored about halfway through.Read more ›
Whew! Ok, here's the review and you judge for yourself. Tully and Kate grew up in the seventies. Tully is cool. Kate is not. (stereotype #1) Tully's lives with her Grandmom because her mom is a hippie druggie/alcoholic (stereotype #2) who comes in and out of her life. Sometimes Tully's mom, when she shows up, takes Tully with her. One time when Tully's mom takes Tully with her, they end up across the street from Kate's family. Tully suffers a tragedy because she is so desperate for love and acceptance that she makes some bad decisions. (stereotype #3) Kate provides Tully with the affection that she needs and they become lifelong friends. (stereotype #4)
Here's the part where I couldn't put the book down. A guy enters the picture who adores Tully and who Tully doesn't have the time of day for. Meanwhile, Kate is crazy for the guy. You would think that Kristen Hannah would write smartly and sensitively about Kate, a character who has been established as the product of a strong mother and happy family, a character who is bright, intelligent and attractive. Thus, however, is not the case. Instead Hannah takes the reader down an unbelievable road.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed Firefly Lane. It kept my interest throughout the whole book. Even though it wasn't quite as gripping as Nightingale, I think that was in part due to the fact... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Laura Sandahl
From start to finish I could identify with so many of the characters and era. A great coming of age moving into adulthood and beyond.Published 6 days ago by Jeanne Hanson
I started reading the book before bedtime and stayed up half the night, couldn't put it down. I'm close to the same age as the two girls, so appreciated the detail that went into... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Sasha
I don't want to spoil anything. Some poignancy and downright tearjerking moments, so if you are due for a good cry, you will get it. Great book club discussion following this.Published 8 days ago by Lori Ann Smith
Very enjoyable to read and I loved the story line and brought back real memories for me. I grew up in that same era.Published 9 days ago by D. Mazzone