I know – it’s Thursday – Not Friday. But I wanted anyone in the Portsmouth VA area to know Normandie will be in your neck of the woods on Friday.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have Normandie Fischer on this week’s Friday Thursday Author Interview. As we speak, Normandie is somewhere on the high seas and should be making land in Portsmouth, Virginia, weather permitting. I just finished reading Becalmed (it took me less than two days – I could not put it down). This is must have reading for those that love a tale about sailings, and families and struggles to fit in.
Below is the biographical sketch of her press release with Silver Seas. I indented to pull bits and pieces, but it is too interesting to leave out a single thing.
“Sailing and poetry merge. The slap of the water, the squawk of gulls, the scent of salt and marsh, the ability to tame the wind – these became the stuff of joy as Normandie’s spinster aunt, Sara Meadows, taught a young girl how to handle a tiller and tweak sails. That same aunt had received her first sailboat from her father, who owned a New Bern, NC shipyard in pre-Depression days. He’d pushed the nine-year-old Sara off into the Neuse and let her learn. Here was adventure. Post-Depression, the family moved to lands owned by Normandie’s great-grandfather, long time Democratic Senator from North Carolina, Furniforl Simmons, but they always returned to their waterfront cottages down east and to the boats that carried them out to Cape Lookout.
Adventure came on the water and in the world of books, of words, of sculpture. Normandie initially pursued the easiest, the thing that flowed naturally from eyes to fingers as she sculpted bodies and portraits, many of which today grace homes across the US. Her pursuit of art took her to the Corcoran School in DC while still in her early teens and then to Italy, where she studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Perugia for a couple of years – and where she would have remained if her leash home hadn’t been yanked. But return she did, and there she completed her degree with special honors in English.
Need let her into the DC work force and a proofreader’s job, which parlayed into a copy editor’s position and then to that of senior editor. She’d been offered managing editorship when she left to raise her babies on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There, in the Chestertown area, she scultpted and taught sculpture and wrote and edited while those babies grew.
Her first full-length manuscript garnered an award but no sales. Her next manuscript gathered dust on a hard drive when Iranian actor/director/producer Reza Fazeli asked her to write an action memoir of his escapes from both the Shah and the Ayatollah Khomeini. By now, her children were growing or grown, and her sailing auntie had come to live with her.
Normandie and her husband began cruising life with the purchase of Sea Venture in 2003, a boat big enough for all three of them and for children who wanted to visit and taste the life of sea gypsies. by 2008, Normandie and Michael were the two who left California to cruise Mexico and the pristine waters of the Sea of Cortez, where Normandie polished three additional manuscripts.
She and Michael planned to leave Pacific Mexico in the spring of 2011 and turn west to wend their way slowly around the world and back to North Carolina. But those plans came to an abrupt halt when Normandie’s 83-year old mama needed care. Normandie moved back home and continued to write.
Joanne: So let’s talk a little about Becalmed since I enjoyed it so much. What promted you to write it?
Normandie: I first loved sailing because of my aunt as evidenced in my bio. Her life made me wonder about small towns and single women – single and innocent until the day of her death at age ninety. What if she had grown up in the eighties instead of the twenties and thirties? How would she have felt about her single state – and would she have tried harder to change things. Hence, the story.
Joanne: I loved your fictional character, Tadie. Did she follow your aunt’s career?
Normandie: Characters rarely behave as I think they will, and Tadie was no exception. So, no, she and my auntie actually had very little in common after the initial introduction.
Joanne: Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
Normandie: Well, to be honest, I like them all. If I am limited to one, it’s the child, Jilly. She has spunk, bouncy red hair, and she knows what she wants.
Joanne: I want people to read Becalmed for themselves so I am going to move on to another subject. What else do you have in the works?
Normandie: Well, Sailing out of Darkness releases from WhiteFire Publishing in August. It’s a story of consequences and how we deal with them. I thoroughly enjoyed writing Teo, the male protagonist, and setting story in Italy.
Another early story, Two from Isaac’s House, garnered me the Alpha Award as best new writer of 1994 long with rather intense interest from four major Christian publishers – until they discovered that it didn’t adhere their rather strict CBA rules. I enjoyed writing it so much that I am not rewriting it, bringing it up to date.
Joanne: It is so fascinating that you went from being a sculptor and poet to writing fiction. How did that happen?
Normandie: I’ve always written poetry – so when I decided to try my hand at fiction, I had to change my whole perspective. Narrative non-fiction was closet to story-telling and deepened my appreciation of the world around me, but it didn’t use the same skills. Frankly, I fell in love with crafting story worlds when I finally gave myself permission to fail at it. I had long needed to change my thinking. I’d chosen sculpture over writing as a first career because it came so easily for me. By the time that career began to bore me, I’s matured enough to risk being less than the best at something. Life was too short to worry about failure.
Joanne: I understand your journey to publication has been a long one. How long did it take?
Normandie: That is a loaded question. I had moments when I questioned if I should give up. I mean really? Twenty years of rejections? Now I can say I’m grateful my stories didn’t sell when I first wrote them. But the journey – it was very disheartening.
Joanne: Well, I along with your many fans, are glad you did not quit. Would you please share the summary and perhaps an excerpt from Becalmed so others can see why I loved it so much. And for readers, you can get Becalmed and her upcoming books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble or by going to her website, www.NormandieFischer.com. It is also available on Kindle. Her publisher is Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
If you are anywhere near these sights, watch out for her boat, Sea Venture and Normandie’s Yacht Parties and Book signings (All weather permitting – Mother Nature could have other plans.
July 19, 2013 Portsmouth, VA
Up the Western Shore or over the Eastern Shore of Virginia with stops nightly.
August 1, 2013 Chesapeake Bay. Will find places to anchor in and around Georgetown MD, Chesapeake City MD and C&D Canal
August 28, 2013 Arrive New York City
September 30, 2013 Leave NYC to head south
October 15, 2013 Arrive Baltimore MD
October 20, 2013 Arrive Annapolis, MD
Various stops on the Western shore of Chesapeake Bay
November 1, 2013 Arrive Portsmouth VA
for more details, you can call 540-632-3305 or email River@Silverseaspr.com
Tadie Longworth barely notices she’s morphing into an old maid. She’s too busy designing jewelry for her gift shop and sailing her sweet little sharpie in the coastal waters off Beaufort, North Carolina, to worry about spinsterhood at thirty-five. That is, until her ex-boyfriend, Alex, returns to town – with the sashaying wife he chose while Tadie spent a semester abroad. Now he has the gall to hit on Tadie again.
Widower Will Merristt and his spunky seven-year-old daughter, Jilly, limp into Beaufort on their broken sailboat, providing a perfect distraction when they sail with Tadie on her little boat and give her something to dream about on their big one. But when the two take shelter in Tadie’s home during a hurricane, trouble begins over games of Slapjack and Monopoly. Tadie battles her attraction to Will as she cuddles Jilly, knowing they’ll sail away and out of her life all too soon.
Will enjoys the friendship, until he finds himself noticing the woman as well as the sailor. Projecting his sublimated desire onto Tadie, he decides she’s just like all other conniving women who tried to use Jilly to entrap a husband. He hauls himself and Jilly out of there so fast Tadie’s head spins.
With the man she might have loved gone, and the man she wishes gone too often on her doorstep, Tadie flees to New York City, imagining that a new place will offer more options. Instead, she realizes place isn’t the culprit. Small town or big city, she’s still the woman men leave. She might as well pull herself together and figure out how to enjoy the life she’s been given, which includes her small-town home and her small-town friends. And her boat. She tells herself not to worry about Alex, which proves hard to do – and a mistake.
By the time Will admits he’s blown it, Tadie has left town. With regret, he picks up his cruising life with Jilly and figures that’s that. Only Jilly knows exactly what she wants – and she’ll do whatever she can to get it.
Excerpt from Becalmed
Hanna spooned more curry onto her plate. “Since he was here first, you might find it hard to say no to him now, seeing the rest of the pickings in this town are so slim.”
Tadie closed her eyes. Here it was. She could feel herself about to break all the years of silence.
Maybe she shouldn’t say anything. Maybe she out to let Hannah think what she would.
Her eyes opened, and the words popped out. “I never slept with him.”
Hannah’s fork dropped to her plate. “What?”
“You heard me. I never had sex with Alex.”
“But he said -“
“I don’t care what he said or didn’t say. It didn’t happen.”
“But I just assumed. You never contradicted him. You never told me.”
“Because Matt was all you could talk about. How great he was. I didn’t want you judging me.”
“Me, judge you? Glory, Tadie, you’re a piece of work, you know that?”
Tadie pushed her chair away from the table and crossed her arms over her stomach.
“How come you never told me in all these years.” Hannah’s eyes reflected hurt. “I didn’t think we had any secrets.”
“You don’t know how many times I wanted to say something, especially in college when I was dating Brice. He started pushing me once he gave me that ring. But I couldn’t.”
“Couldn’t tell me or couldn’t have sex with him?”
Hannah squinted, making Tadie fell like some strange specimen Hannah had never seen before. “Do you mean to tell me, Sara Longsworth, that you’ve never done it with anyone?”
Tadie took a long, deep breath, waited, then eased it out. Finally, she nodded.
Tadie shook her head.
“Lord, have mercy. Don’t you want to?”
A snort was all she could manage.
“What am I saying? Of course you do. You’re not gay. I would have known if you were.” Hannah squinted again and peered at her. “I would, wouldn’t I?”
“Okay, sorry.” Straightening in her chair, Hannah picked up the discarded fork and took another bite. “Well, so what’s the plan? You waitin’ for God to drop someone through your roof?” She narrowed her eyes. “Is this a sin thing? A ring on your finger before anything else? ‘Cause if it is, girl, you better get busy. Wait much longer, and nobody’s gonna look good.”
It may have grown into a marriage-or-nothing thing for her, but Tadie couldn’t be sure it always has been. “I just haven’t met anyone, not the right one anyway. I mean, I could have done it with Alex, or Brice or a bunch of others, but I did’t want to be a notch on their belt, you know?’
“Who would/” Hannah pointed to the rice container. “Any more of that left?”