Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Books · Unlocking the secret of Gloria...
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Unlocking the secret of Gloria Whelan

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - August 10th, 2009
Unlocking the World of Writer Gloria Whelan

By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli 8/10/09

The Locked Garden
By Gloria Whelan
Harper Collins - $15.99

I met up with writer Gloria Whelan at Horizon Books in Traverse City where she had come to do a book signing for her newest young adult novel, The Locked Garden. Gloria and I have a history that goes back a few years. I’d interviewed her often while sitting on the deck of her lovely home overlooking Oxbow Lake in Mancelona, watching deer come to drink on the shore and loons gliding past; and talking of literature, writing and writers through the afternoon hours.
I missed those afternoon teas we’d shared and, now that’s she’s moved to southern Michigan after the death of her husband, Joseph, I couldn’t help but ask if she missed Northern Michigan.
“I miss Oxbow Lake and the woods every day of my life,” she said. “I’ve never really left it. We travel, you know, with all kinds of worlds in our heads.”
One of the worlds inside Whelan’s head is one other fiction writers might only dream of. A couple of years ago her book, Homeless Bird, won a National Book Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in American Literature. She and her husband were in New York City for the presentations. “All the other winners went off for a night of partying and drinking,” she said at the time. “Joe and I went back to our hotel room.”
Evidently, life back in the woods outside of Mancelona doesn’t prepare one for dissipation and the high life.

KEEP WRITING
“That pinnacle was an extraordinary experience,” she recalls of the award. “But every year is not that extraordinary. It was a confirming moment -- hard to live up to. All you can do is keep writing and do the best you can.”
“I write for kids,” she went on. “That doesn’t change. I hear from readers who tell me my books have started them reading -- that’s reward enough.”
Recently, at a book signing in Petoskey, a young girl came up to her with an essay she’d written in school titled “My Hero.” “I was her hero,” Whelan marveled. “Because, she said, I got her interested in books.”
Now, living back near Detroit, where she was born and grew up, Whelan says she has nothing but admiration for the city. “Before the current economic downturn, there were a lot of positive things going on -- movements to upgrade education and save Belle Isle.”
With the loss of jobs and all of the home foreclosures, the biggest problem is education in the city’s schools. Whelan currently works with Loyola High School and helping where she can to promote literacy.
“I’m working with groups to save Belle Isle, where I used to go with my parents when I was child. There is so much good there in the city -- wonderful art museum, great symphony, a great new mayor. I love places where there is a cross section of people living and sharing an environment.”

TC SETTING
Her new young adult novel, The Locked Garden, is actually laid on the grounds of Traverse City’s Building 50, when it was a state hospital. “I was at a state hospital meeting, back when it was to be torn down, and a young architect said, “We can’t tear it down. It has to be saved.” That architect changed the thinking in the room and the direction for the hospital buildings, now being restored, preserved, and given to new uses.
“Right then a group began working to save the buildings and I wanted to use the setting in my book about a doctor’s family who moves to live outside the state hospital, has one of the patients as household help, and comes to understand not only the young woman, but mental illness -- with the stigma then attached.”
The two young girls of The Locked Garden learn a great deal about the hospital and the workings of an asylum -- how the food they consumed was grown on the grounds, how some of the patients found life-long work while confined, how their own lives could be chaotic. They plot to get rid of a mean and jealous aunt, and emphasize with a girl whose life with her father was so cruel and physically abusive that her only escape was an insane asylum.

COMING UP
Whelan has two picture books coming out soon:
The Listeners, a story about child slaves who are sent to listen outside plantation windows, hoping to overhear plans to break up families and sell them off to other places.
Listening for the Owl -- a native Afghan child who is a weaver of rugs also weaves a mind tapestry -- the story of her life. She thinks her world into existence through a loom that is always there. At the end of this 10-year old’s long work day comes the call of the owl -- signaling she has finished her weaving. Through this book Whelan hopes to get out word of an organization called the Rug Mark Organization, a group of rug dealers who have pledged never to purchase rugs done by children.
Also in the works is another book set in Northern Michigan. Are You All Right tells the story of a young girl deserted by her artist father. She eventually, on scholarship, goes to a Detroit art school and is reunited with her irascible father -- now a mature artist. It is the story of a generational confrontation of ideas.
Her book signing about to begin, Gloria is called away. Not exactly tea beside a wild Michigan lake, but still talk of ideas and writing and writers enough to last me until her next book tour.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s novel, Dead Floating Lovers (Midnight Ink, $14.95) second in a mystery series set in northwest Michigan, in available in book stores now.

 
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