Dreaming Big: Tell us about your latest book.
Christine Hale: My new book is A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations. It's just been released by Apprentice House Press in Baltimore. I'm thrilled by the reader response so far. Readers describe the book as honest, poignant, and easy to relate to, a gripping story, and even profound! People also enjoy the book's sense of humor. When I read from it publicly, I hear the audience laugh as well as sigh and gasp.
Dreaming Big: Wow, sounds fascinating. What's it about?
Christine Hale: Three seemingly very different things: my growing up years inside my parents' epic bad marriage, a series of Buddhist retreats I made as an adult, and the together-tattoos my young adult children talked me into beginning back in 2005. I'd been writing about each of these story lines separately but I kept feeling the three had a connection. It finally dawned on me: all three stories are about the ways I came to terms with mistakes, betrayals, mental illness, and abuse, first in my parents' lives and then in my own.
The form of the book is a collage. Imagine pasting photos from different parts of your past to a poster board, letting the arrangement and the overlap suggest connections among the events. Another way to describe the book's form is that it's like memory itself. We remember little snippets of event vividly, whether that happened recently or long ago, and we ask ourselves, sometimes, how it all adds up. Readers love the little stories that make up my book in part because it makes them remember things that happened to them in the past but that still seemed to matter.
Dreaming Big: What inspired you to write this book?
Christine Hale: I like to say that the material hijacked me. My first book was a novel, and I was working on it at the time my mother passed away. I wrote about her and our troubled relationship as part of my grief, never intending to write anything publishable. A few years later, I found those pages, re-read them and realized that I was on to something--what I was writing was drawing me into my own psychological healing: a process of forgiving her and others, including myself.
Dreaming Big: Why do you think your personal story will be of help to others?
Christine Hale: One reader wrote me to say that stories in my book are the kinds of things we typically reveal only to close friends and partners--or sometimes to no one, including ourselves. She went on to say that she believes women in particular are hungry for memoirs by women. "We're so under-represented and inaccurately represented in literature (and certainly economics and politics) that we're hungry to understand and value ourselves," she said. A man came up to me after a reading to say how grateful he was someone wrote publicly about the heavy secrets men have to bear inside long, unhappy marriages. The spirituality of the book is Buddhist but a Christian reader has told me the spiritual struggle as represented in the book resonates with her religious commitment. My goal, once I realized I was writing a memoir, was to tell my own truth in such a way that others could benefit from what I learned on my journey.
Dreaming Big: Where can a reader purchase your book?
Christine Hale: A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations and my novel, Basil's Dream (a tale of love and intrigue set in Bermuda) are available wherever fine books are sold. I encourage everyone to support local independent bookstores, which will order my books for you if they're not already on the shelf. Online, you'll find my memoir and my novel available through IndieBound (www.indiebound.org) as well as Amazon. For more information about me and my books, please visit www.christinehalebooks.com