Jon is the June Author in the Spotlight here on Book Snob and I would like to invite you to read the story behind his book The Healing. You really need to read about how he chose to be a writer and learn about his Mississippi and Minnesota roots. I am proud to announce that Jonathan just got married this week and I would like to Congratulate Jon and Jim on their nuptials. I hope you will have a long and happy life together.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Mississippi and came to Minnesota as a VP of HR in 1980. I ran my own consulting company until I decided to write at age 45. I’ve been fortunate to have two novels published, which were both inspired by the social insanity of the land of my birth. I got married in NYC this week to the love of my life, Jim Kuether, who is an award winning watercolorist and my best editor.
2. What inspired you to write to The Healing?
Mississippi has been my wondrous monster. No matter how far I flee, she tracks me down and whispers into my ear, “Explain me or I’ll drive you crazy.” So I write to reconcile myself with the insanity of Mississippi around race, sex and religion.
3. Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer?
I was making mucho bucks as an organization consultant and leadership trainer, but was very depressed. I gave it all up at 46—shut down my business, broke up wiht my partner, sold my house, gave away my dog, and left the country to shake up my thinking. I spend 3 months in the jungles of Costa Rica, not speaking the language, trying to find my inner voice. When I did, it reminded my of my childhood dream of writing. I knew that I would either keep that dream of mine or die. So I began to write.
4. Usually an author puts some of his own life experiences in the book. Did you do that?
All the characters were based on personalities and dilemmas that I came across in my research. My first novel, THE VIEW FROM DELPHI, is directly taken from my remembrances of my family, especially my mother. Polly Shine, in THE HEALING, is the voice and personality of Mrs. Willie Turner, of Midnight, Mississippi, an African American midwife. She was 92 when I interviewed her and had “caught” 2063 babies. An audio of the interview is on my website.
5. Do you like to read? What authors or books influence you?
I’m glad you asked that. Most people assume you must be an avid reader to be a writer. I’m not. I read as a way of research. Faulkner, Welty, and O’Connor explain the south to me the best. The WPA archives which contain 1000 pages of interviews with former slaves in the 1930’s influenced the setting and plot of THE HEALING more than any other source.
6. In The Healing slaves die from a disease called the Black Tongue. Is this a real disease and can you tell us more about it?
In the 1900’s it was named pellagra and was discovered to be caused by a vitamin deficiency. Victims were those who usually had a diet consisting mostly of corn and animal fat. No lean meat or fruits or vegetable. This was the diet of the slave, so it became known as a slave disease. As Polly said, the master “saw the slaves as field animals so he fed them like field animals.” Polly saw them as people and fed them like people.
7. In The Healing you mention Little Lord dies young and yet the reader never finds out how that happens. Can you tell us how Little Lord died?
Yes, I cut that chapter out. But in my mind, Little Lord spends the war years in a military academy, went on to college in the Northeast. He was a frail boy, and died soon after he returned home from college of influenza.
8. I’m curious to know more about Granada’s father. He is barely mentioned in the book. Is this intentional and why didn’t Granada want to learn her father’s story?
It was intentional. The focus of this book was on the feminine, and the vital role mothering has in the healing of the world. My next book is on “fathering’.
9. In one sentence tell readers why they should read The Healing?
Bottom line, I believe it’s a wonderful story. If readers pick up any other deeper meaning or lessons, that’s great. But a good book, above anything else, needs to be a good read.
If you would like to win a copy of The Healing please click the link: The Healing Giveaway