I’m so pleased to be part of author Kathie Giorgio’s “Hope Always Rises” Book Tour. Author Kathie Giorgio’s novel is on an emotional subject that few people tackle – suicide. “Hope Always Rises” is rich with empathy, with a sprinkling of humour and tons of imagination. I found the book very intriguing – although the subject matter is a very emotional one, Kathie’s imagination made me giggle in parts and thoughtful in others. I just couldn’t wait to interview Kathie …. but first here’s a book summary and an excerpt…..
In Heaven, there is a gated community for those who end their lives by choice. This is a complete surprise to Hope, who ends her life one morning on the banks of the Fox River in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Hope has always dealt with deep sadness. From childhood on, she visited therapists, doctors, alternative medicine practitioners, Reiki artists, etc., to no avail. In Heaven, God reassures her that he knows what caused the sadness, but he won’t reveal it yet.
All community residents are required to attend weekly group therapy. Hope’s first group is led by Virginia Woolf. Several of the book’s chapters tell the stories of other members of this group.
Filled with many moments of striking humor, uplifting realizations, and difficult challenges, Hope finds her way in Heaven. She meets many people like herself, who help her restore her forgotten artistic talent and passion, and God himself, who is amazingly human in the most inhuman of ways. Hope finds understanding and forgiveness, and most importantly, friends.
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Print length: 342 pages
I never knew God slept. I certainly never expected him to wear pyjamas or have rumpled hair. But if he looked like the God I always imagined, the God with long white hair and a beard and a moustache and a serious, serious face, I never would have been able to rest my head on his shoulder, like I was able to do now.
I was very glad he wore blue flannel pyjamas.
“You knew you couldn’t expect them to be happy, right, Hope? You knew that,” he said, and wrapped his arm around me. “It was part of your choice to end your life.”
I turned my face into his chest and wept.
It had been my choice. I didn’t expect them to be happy.
But I never thought I would witness their sadness.
For the first time, I regretted Heaven. I wished for the black void that I thought death might be, that day that I swallowed each pill with a gulp of wine.
“It’ll be okay, Hope,” God said. Not a booming voice from a burning bush or a dark cloud. A soft voice that soothed me as I cried.
Hello. I’m the writer Kathie Giorgio, the instructor Kathie Giorgio, the business owner Kathie Giorgio, the wife and mom Kathie Giorgio…and a few other roles too. But the writer is who I am at my purest form. I knew I was a writer by the time I was eleven years old. All the others came afterwards.
Who or what inspired you to write “Hope Always Rises”?
As a creative, and someone who teaches creatives, I’ve known many people who have chosen to end their own lives. The incidence of suicide among creatives is higher than that of the average person on the street. For me, the decision to write this book came when I overheard a conversation between two women who were talking about a “friend” who’d recently chosen to end her life. They talked about how selfish she was, how awful, a monster, what a terrible thing to leave her husband and family behind. I was in a coffee shop, and before I left, I turned to them and said, “Did it ever occur to you to think about what kind of pain your friend must have been in to make this decision? To make it seem viable and the only way out?” And then I left.
I went home and began to write this book.
It is always difficult tackling non conventional/emotional topics in novels but I think with “Hope Always Rises” you have tackled the topic with empathy, a dose of reality, a touch of humour and, as for the gated communities of Heaven – imagination! In fact, the Heaven imagination is quite comforting, and makes the thought of death less “scary” (when it comes to the fear of the unknown). I’m not sure whether I can forget the vision I had when I read about God in his pyjamas! The characters in your novel are quite a believable bunch – the main character Hope, her mentor Faith, her friend Joy, the coffee barista Joe, Virginia Woolf …. to name a few. I had a fondness for Hope but I also liked Joy! She made me giggle. Did you base a lot of your characters on people you’ve met in life? Which character did you enjoy writing about the most? Which character was the hardest?
My characters always come purely from me; I don’t base them on anyone I know. I am probably the most fond of Hope. She tried so hard in life, and she hasn’t given up in death. Her desire to know and understand is so strong.
I think I probably enjoyed writing the character of God the most. There were a couple of times when I made myself gasp, such as when God admitted that he has made mistakes. But in my head, a human-like God would be the most empathetic of all beings. Nonjudgmental, totally filled with unconditional love, and someone you can talk to about all things. I have no idea if God is real, but if he is, I hope he’s like mine.
I would say, though, that while God was the most enjoyable to write, the most poignant moment for me was Sarah, who was the main character in Chapter 16: The Fat Girl Takes The Long Way. That story originally appeared, in slightly different form, in my collection, Enlarged Hearts. All of the stories in that collection are set in a large women’s clothing boutique in a mall, and all the main characters are only known as the Fat Girl; no one has a name. But in this book, I was able to give her a name. Sarah. She so earned it. Because in Heaven, you just aren’t part of a group. You are yourself.
The most difficult character? Probably Buddy, from Chapter 20: All Better?. His actions cost his little boy his young life. Trying to force myself into that head was so, so hard.
Your vision of Heaven – I liked the idea of the numerous coffee shops and poodling around in golf carts! What aspect of your Heaven appealed to you the most?
Being able to eat and drink anything I want, and it won’t cause me any harm! Butter rum muffins for everyone! And the best coffee ever.
If you could visit any country/place in the world, to base a future novel in, where would you go and why?
London. I have a very strong desire to see Big Ben. He was recently re-opened (yes, I refer to the big clock as a “he”) and now you can even go up inside of him, all 300+ steps. I would love to write a book about something that happened on the long trip up and the long trip down. There’s just something about that clock that is timeless.
Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?
Absolutely I’m a bookworm. I don’t think you can be a writer without being an avid reader. I prefer literary fiction. I love Anne Tyler, Ellen Gilchrist, John Irving, and so, so many. And it must be a real book. No e-book, please. When I travel, I always make sure I have a washing machine available, so I can fill my suitcase with books and not clothes.
Is “Hope Always Rises” available to purchase worldwide?
Yes, it is.
Growing up had you always wanted to be an author or did you have other career aspirations?
I was writing before I knew I was writing. I told stories before I could hold a pencil. Eventually, I traced pictures out of my storybooks and rewrote the story the way I felt they should be written. And in the fifth grade, I read a story in front of my class, and from the back of the room, my teacher, Mrs. Fatticci, said, “Ohmygod, Kathie. You’re a writer!” And I knew that I was.
Apart from being an author of 7 novels, 2 story collections and an essay collection; you have also written 4 poetry collections. Do you have a particular preference ?
For what I prefer to write? Definitely fiction, though I love all forms. But if I was told I could only write in one genre for the rest of my life, I would choose the short story. Even my novels contain short stories. I just can’t help myself.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes wouldn’t you normally be found wearing?
During the fall and winter, you’ll find me typically in leggings and warm sweaters and boots, either ankle boots, or boots to the knee. During spring and summer, I’m in leggings or capris with polo-type shirts if I’m teaching, or t-shirts if I’m not. Oh, and sneakers. I have a pair of Skechers that are very subtly a rainbow. I keep buying one more pair so I’ll have it when the older pair wears out.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Love ThredUp online, and I love scrounging at Goodwill and St. Vinnie’s. I also hit the sales at Lane Bryant and Torrid.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I was shopping this last weekend for something to wear at the launch for Hope Always Rises on April 27th. Thus far, I have 4 outfits, with two more on the side. And I’m still not happy. So I’d like something that looks classy, not frilly, intelligent…and makes me looks like I fit in a size 10.
Boots or Shoes?
I would change shoes to sneakers, and then I’d ask if I could have both boots and sneakers.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/kathiegiorgioauthor/
BOOK TOUR DATES
My thanks to Kathie Giorgio for a copy of “Hope Always Rises” for review purposes. All photos have been published with kind permission of Kathie Giorgio.