Q&A with The Memory Keeper’s Daughter Author Kim Edwards

December 14, 2011

The Lake of Dreams, by Kim Edwards. Published By Penguin Books Australia, RRP $29.95.

The darkest secrets are the ones we hide from ourselves.

Ten years ago, traumatized by her father’s death, Lucy left her home and her country. Now, she returns to her family’s rambling lakeside home to lay old ghosts to rest.

Sleepless one night, Lucy makes a momentous discovery. Locked in a moonlit window seat is a collection of family heirlooms – objects whose secrets no one was ever supposed to find. Piecing together her family’s true history, she realises that the story she has always been told was a fiction…Mesmerising and haunting, The Lake of Dreams is a startling story of family secrets and lies, lost love and redemption, and of the many pieces and puzzles that make up a life.

With revelations as captivating as the deceptions at the heart of her best-selling phenomenon, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards now gives us the story of a woman’s homecoming to the lake of her childhood, and the discovery of a secret past that will alter her understanding of her heritage, and herself, forever. A powerful family narrative and a story of love lost and found, The Lake of Dreams is an arresting novel in which every vibrant detail emerges as an organic piece of a puzzle. With her signature gifts for lyricism, suspense, and masterly storytelling, Kim Edwards’s new novel will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and mesmerize millions of new fans.

1. In what ways did the success of Memory Keeper’s Daughter make writing your new novel easier?
Well, I learned a great deal about novel writing from the experience, and I took that knowledge with me into “The Lake of Dreams.” Also, hearing from so many readers, and having such a positive response to the novel here and in many other countries, was both exciting and affirming. I felt a great freedom writing The Lake of Dreams.

2. In what ways did it make it harder?
Making the transition from the very public act of touring to the very private act of writing was difficult at first. It took me a few months to regain some tranquility. Fortunately, I’d begun The Lake of Dreams well before The Memory Keeper’s Daughter was even published, and I was glad to get back to the story.

3. Where did the idea for the story come from?
I can’t point to a specific generating moment the way I sometimes can with stories. Rather, the ideas and images accrued over years. The idea that the comet would be an interesting way to tie generations together came to me while I was still a student, for instance.

4. Early on you have your main character, Lucy, wonder, “could the past ever be just the past?” I’ll ask you the same: can the past ever be just the past?
Good question. That’s really Lucy’s quest in this novel, to resolve the lingering mysteries and sorrows of the past so she can move forward.

5. Secrets play a role in both your novels. Why are you drawn to secrets?
As Hawthorne knew, and Dostoevsky too, secrets provide a strong narrative tension that can serve to highlight the deeper themes of a novel. In “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” the reader knows the secret right away, while many characters don’t. In “The Lake of Dreams,” I set myself a different challenge; I wanted to write a story where no one knew the secret — or even that there was a secret — going in.

6. In what ways were you shaped as a writer by your family history?
I’m something of an anomaly; there are no other writers, at least that I know of, though one great-grandfather was a musician.

7. You grew up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. In what ways did you draw on that experience as you wrote the book?
I drew on that experience very deeply. Though the Lake of Dreams is a fictional place, it’s very much informed by the years I spent in that region and by my sense of the history and geography.

8. How does teaching at the college level help your writing, and vice-versa?
It’s very helpful. Of course, the writing I do informs my teaching. My classes usually focus strongly on revision, an essential skill for writers. At various times in the writing of both novels I used writing exercises that I assign to students to help me explore my characters more deeply.

9. Why do you write?
Writing has always been one of my greatest pleasures.

If you loved Memory Keepers Daughter then you won’t want to miss reading Lake of Dreams – put it on your Christmas wish list now!

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