Written by Randi Triant, “What We Give, What We Take is the indelible portrait of a mother and son eking out lives on the periphery, first together, then apart. With a tenderness for life’s misfits that recalls Carson McCullers, in this remarkable novel, hauntingly evokes Fay’s and Dickie’s complexities, and those of the men and women who exploit, brutalize, nurture, and adore them.”
—Claire Messud, author of the national bestselling novels, The Woman Upstairs and The Emperor’s Children
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I was ten years old when I wrote my first story, which was an awful story about a kid who was trapped in a creepy castle and was searching for the answer to the overly dramatic question, What is love? I had no idea why I wrote it, but I was hooked.
What is your book about?
It’s the story of Fay Stonewell, a single mother and carnival escape artist who makes terrible decisions, and consequently, her disabled son, Dickie, is forced to run away.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book? The most rewarding?
The most difficult was writing the few scenes that are violent. Those were tough. The most rewarding was writing about Fay when she realizes how much she loves her son and that she must find him again. Also, I loved creating those moments when Fay or Dickie experience kindness through other relationships, with both old friends and strangers, as they struggle to get back to each other.
What do you hope other people will take away from reading your book?
You can rise above your family circumstances, however dysfunctional they are.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Perseverance is as (or more) important than one-shot talent.
How long did it take to write your book?
Ten years off and on.
What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Less is more. Actually, that was advice a film teacher gave me, but I think it’s great writing advice also.
What’s next for you?
I’m coordinating a May reading and art exhibition called “What We Give” that explores artwork by and about individuals living with physical or mental challenges. I’m also working on a novel about two women who were best childhood friends, but now are estranged as adults, and what happens when one becomes sick and the other decides to go on a cross-country trip with her seeking various treatments, some bogus, some not.
How can our readers get a copy of your book?
What We Give, What We Take will be published by She Writes Press in April 2022 and is available for pre-order (and afterward) at Amazon , Barnes & Noble , Bookshop , and bookstores everywhere, including my hometown favorites, East End Books Ptown and Porter Square Books .
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