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Entries in Ginger Marcinkowski (2)

Tuesday
Aug072012

Welcoming Ginger Marcinkowski, author of 'Run, River Currents,' her new release

Ginger Marcinkowski, author of RUN, RIVER CURRENTS

What an utter joy it is to welcome my very good friend Ginger Marcinkowski to "Scrivengale" today for an author Q&A. Ginger just released her first novel RUN, RIVER CURRENTS (Booktrope 2012), which is an extraordinarily beautiful and powerful tale of suffering and redemption.

Because Ginger and I attended the Wilkes University Creative Writing Program together, I had the privilege of reading a later draft of RUN, RIVER CURRENTS. I say privilege because certain important stories must be told about children who are scarred, whose physical injuries and emotional damage are inflicted at the hands of those society has entrusted with their care.

This book is one of those gut-wrenching stories. Ginger has crafted a soul-searing novel about one woman’s lifelong journey for self-acceptance and peace that ranges across Maritime Canada, yet her central character Emily Douay is unable to find a safe haven anywhere, long into adulthood.

It’s hard to know who is the greater villain—Emily’s abusive father or self-absorbed, opportunistic mother. Bereft of kindness and wisdom from her own parents, Emily can only cling to her grandfather’s kindly words: “You’re not alone. God will never leave you.” This is a tale of wrongdoing and the victimization of innocents, of forgiveness and redemption, that you won’t be able to put down until the last line of the last page. Surely, if one as wronged as Emily can move on in life with the help of God, there’s hope for us all. 

As dark as Emily's journey is, you also need to know that there's beauty in this book, too, in Ginger's prose, in the description of the Canadian countryside, in recounting the rituals and the laborers' work, whether logging or in the potato fields.

So welcome, Ginger, and congratulations on a stunning debut novel!

How long did it take you to write this book? The seed for the book was always inside of me, but I didn’t start writing the manuscript until I began my M.F.A. program at Wilkes around four years ago. The intention was to write a comical biography about my mother, who single-handedly raised eight children. My mother was a hoot. Everyone loved her, and she always had to be the center of attention. Kaylie Jones and I had some fun conversations about our mothers. Her mother was a socialite, married to the renowned novelist James Jones. They lived in Paris and New York and travelled in elite social circles. Upon hearing that, I dubbed my mother the Walmart version of Kaylie’s mom. My mother would have loved that!

In the end, this story went from a comedy to the story that needed to be told. My mentor, Sara Pritchard, pulled the story from me, sensing that there was a darker story in the comedic tidbits I was writing.

How did you settle on the title? This story has numerous titles including Tobique, pronounced toe-bick) the river on which this story is based. Because the river plays such a character role and is used as metaphors for what is going on in Emily’s, the main character’s life, it seemed fitting to have a title that reflected that point. Booktrope, my publisher, assigned me a very talented book editor named Lori Higham. She came up with the final title. The title beautifully reflects the power that river had in my own life as a giver of life and death, hope and redemption. It’s a crossover book between mainstream women’s fiction and Christian fiction and has a non-preachy storyline.

How did you find and incorporate the distance and detachment all autobiographical fiction demands? I think time distances you from some pain. It’s never forgotten, but when the pain dulls you can look at the past with a less cynical eye. You can place yourself in other’s shoes and get a better realization of the thought process they had while they went through their own struggles. I told this story as though I was an observer and not a victim. I realized I had forgiven and been forgiven myself, so it made it easier to share some truth in this fictionalized story.

I’ve already had people ask me, “Did this happen to you?” The story IS based on true events but is heavily fictionalized. My brothers and sisters will know some of the truth in the book, especially the setting. Plaster Rock is a place we all love and the only true place any one of us would call “home.” But even our experiences differed as children. The older siblings would read this and recognize a bit of truth here and there and yet the younger siblings might not recognize anything. But this is my fictional story, told with truth and great love.

What do you want people to take away from this book?  I know that there are hurting people everywhere. They may have had to endure some form of abuse whether it was sexual, physical or mental. But I want them to know that there is a way out, and that what has happened to them in the past does not have to affect their future. They have the choice to stay locked in a prison of their own making or they can take control of their lives and choose to live a full and happy life. It comes down to the choice letting the Devil keep us in that dark place or allowing God to give us the joy he so freely offers.

It’s a sobering story, but do you have a favorite scene? The day Emily was baptized in the Tobique River. It was the same day her best friend Dave Cook, drowned. The river was a giver of life as well as a taker of life. He’s a cutting from that scene.

The day of Emily’s baptism was oven hot, a day when children baked in their homes until mothers ran them outside to escape their heat-induced whines. Eleven-year-old Dave Cook was one of four boys who had skipped the revival, tagging along with older boys to swim in the river.

Emily longed to join the boys. Dave had told her he’d already eyed the log gap from shore earlier that day. Halfway across the river, the rushing water had heaved logs into the air, pushing them high and solidly latching the timbers into makeshift diving platforms. Emily stood at the top of the path to the river, watching the carefree boys until Reverend Park called her name.

Kent Green, Dave, Ronnie, and Ronnie’s cousin Rene Tibideaux stood on the riverbank, each daring the other to begin the run to the log jam.

“You go!” Dave charged.

“No, you go.” Rene yelled back.

“What are you, chicken? Bawk! Bawk! Chicken!” Ronnie taunted.

The jeers continued, with Rene pulling at Ronnie’s arm until Ronnie lunged forward and fell face first into the red dirt. Ronnie grabbed at Kent’s leg, jerking away from Rene’s grasp. Finally, Dave, dashing from all of them, steadied his foot on the lead log and, feeling no movement, began to run. He crossed to the second log, a thin white birch, with little effort; its bark was peeled back, exposing a slippery beige skin. He hopped to another log and then another, his confidence growing. He was several logs out on a steady timber when he turned to face the skeptics behind him.

“Chicken!” he clucked.

 “Keep going, Dave!” Emily yelled from the top of the hill, her voice carrying down over the water as though she had a megaphone.

The boys flung their shoes into the air, and the race was on. They flitted log to log, mimicking Dave’s route. Dave took off again, his arms gyrating like a windmill when he hit the sinker.

“Emily?” Reverend Park’s thundering voice called her to the baptism pool. She swung around and ran toward him, losing sight of the boys in the water.

She figured it was about the time the logs had dislodged and separated, wide jaws bent on swallowing, that Reverend Park had pushed her head underneath the water. Going under, she pinched her nose, scared of swallowing any of the river and getting worms like her gram had warned her about. She didn’t want worms. Karen Belcamp had worms one time. Karen’s mother told the principal that she could see them under Karen’s skin, puffed up and making tunnels on her arms. Emily clamped her mouth shut but kept her eyes open. Reverend sucked her up through the water and it was over.

Ronnie was the first boy they heard. “Help! Help!” He burst through the small grove of scrub trees that separated the baptism pool from the log jam. His flash of red hair was weaving wild across his pale head. Gasping, he choked out the news—the other three boys had dropped into the river when the spruce rolled beneath their feet, hurling them into the Tobique. The gap in the timbers had opened, allowing the river to swallow them whole. And Ronnie, the lone, lagging runner, had watched horrified as the floating logs closed over them and sealed the boys beneath the surface of the river.

Foley ran toward the revival tent, pulling his Buck knife from his back pocket as he huffed his way uphill, stopping only when he arrived at the fluttering white tent. He thrust his knife into the thick rope, tearing back and forth until the rope snapped, releasing the tent that fell as though it were a deflating balloon. All other able-bodied men ran toward the river.

Rene and Kent could be seen clinging to the top of a spruce log that had settled just under the water. Everyone watched the men spread on the logs like ants, dividing their routes and then converging near the boys. The first man to reach them dropped onto the log as though he were riding a bronco. The boys thrashed at the rolling log, its bark tearing at their flesh, mixing blood with the silt of the river. Their panicked moves bucked the rescuer upward, allowing him to toss the rope close enough for the boys to grasp. Letting go of the log, the boys sank, the timbers closing above them.

“Pull!” the rescuer shouted. Others joined the man, each feverishly pulling at the thick cord. All of a sudden, two heads bobbed to the surface, flailing in the few inches that would have sealed them under the water for good. Reverend Park was on his knees praying. Emily was on the shore with other onlookers who were clutching their open-mouthed faces. Dave was nowhere to be seen. Snatched by the river, she supposed, to a watery death.

A couple of hours later, Dave popped like a cork from under two logs that had worked themselves free from the jam. His body looked like a rubber raft, blue and still. Some of the men had waded downriver for the cargo they knew would come. . Emily stood helplessly to one side, anxious to know how Dave must have felt. Wet and puffy. Dead and lost. Empty and void of any emotion. Like Emily.

Ginger and I at our last residency together in the Wilkes Univerity Creative Writing programAny writing rituals you have to get going? Ha! Right at this moment I just need to get back into the great habits I had in school! Trying to juggle a career change, a new book release, full-time travel and training for my upcoming stint as an online instructor has my writing habits all askew! Normally I would get up and write for about 30 minutes to an hour before my eyes open and my head loses all the imaginative thoughts for the day! But that is coming in a few weeks as I complete my next manuscript!

What’s the worst part about being a writer? There is no worst part when you love doing something as much as I love writing. God has given me a talent and it took a very long time for me to understand that. Even though I seem to be a confident person, inside I never have been. I never thought I was good enough for anyone, nor did I feel I could do anything really well. God has shown me otherwise and for that I am very grateful! And he did it by putting wonderful people in my life like you, Gale, who have encouraged me and helped me find my voice.

If you could have written any book, which would it be? Well if you are talking about someone else’s book, it would have been the Bible. That would have meant that I had been able to share my experiences in the presence of Christ. And it’s a best-seller! If you meant what other kind of book would I have written, well that one is easy as well. It would have been a comedic story. I love to laugh and I love to entertain. That’s what I have in store for the next book!

What were you doing ten years ago? I had just moved to a new location and started a job with a Chamber of Commerce. My career spans a lot of professions from travel and tourism to economic development to insurance to teaching. But none have been as gratifying as writing.

What’s your biggest anxiety about your writing/writing life? Time. Juggling a job that requires flying all over the country with finding the time for writing and finding time for my personal life. That’s changing soon as I will be home full-time starting in 2013. Maybe then I can write full-time!

Well, thank you for having me on your blog, Gale and good luck with Grace Unexpected!

* * *

Where to find Ginger in cyberspace:

Email: grm55@me.com

 
Click here to purchase Run, River Currents.
Saturday
Oct232010

A perfect gift for writers...

Just the other day at work, I received a catalog suggesting ideal holiday gifts for employees. First, I thought, holy cow! Christmas gifts? It's not even Halloween. And I wasn't too jazzed about their gift suggestions. But then I realized I had a great gift suggestion for the writers in your life that I had to pass along since many (organized) people have already started their Christmas shopping or will in the near future.

Click to read more ...