Sunday, November 12, 2023

Q&A with Elaine Roth




Elaine Roth is the author of the new novel The Midnight Garden. She has written about her experiences as a young widow and single parent for a variety of publications. Also a Pilates instructor, she lives in New Jersey.


Q: To begin with, I'm so sorry about the loss of your husband...


You’ve written about grief and loss in your blog and in a variety of other publications--why did you decide to create your character Hope?  


A: I don’t know that I decided to create Hope as much as she just appeared in my imagination one day.


In some ways, she’s a reflection of where I was in my grief at the time I started writing—a place where I accepted that grief and loss were always going to be a part of my story, that I’d always love Matt and miss him, but I’d started to realize that I couldn’t just wait for life to happen.


That if I wanted to live a life I loved, I couldn’t just stay still and play it safe. I had to take steps to make that big life happen—which is a terrifying thought for a young widow, who has seen how suddenly your world can fall apart.  


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Hope, Will, and Maeve?  


A: Hope, Will, and Maeve are three people who found each other, and resonated with each other, because they all suffered a loss that changed them to their core. Even though each chose a different way to deal with their grief, they all understand each other on a soul level.


This is something I find when I meet others who have suffered a great loss at a relatively young age. We tend to just understand each other—see each other—in ways that can’t be described. I believe Hope, Will, and Maeve are the same.


They’re also different enough that they’re able to expose the blind spots in each other’s ways of thinking about life post-loss and moving forward.  


Q: The writer Rochelle B. Weinstein called the book a “powerful, moving story of forgiveness and healing that brims with the perfect touch of magic.” What do you think of that description?  


A: I absolutely love that description and love that the themes of the book came through so powerfully for her! When I read her review, I cried!


It means so much to me that she “saw” the book so thoroughly. I’m so grateful to Rochelle for reading The Midnight Garden and so appreciative of her kind words.  


Q: How was the novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?  


A: The novel had a few different titles as it went through its various drafts, and ultimately my agent and I landed on The Midnight Garden, because it hints at that touch of magic woven through the book.


To me, the title signifies how we can always find a little magic in the mundane, if we choose to look for it—a little glimmer of magic in a place as ordinary as a garden.  


Q: What are you working on now?  


A: Right now I’m working on a book that centers on the relationship between two very different sisters who are reunited at a time when both are struggling to get their lives in order. Of course, I’m planning for a touch of magic to weave its way into their lives.


Q: Anything else we should know?  


A: The Midnight Garden is my fifth or sixth fully finished novel. I started my first manuscript almost 10 years ago. It took hundreds of failed projects, false starts, heartbreaking rejections to get to this place—a published book.


It feels more meaningful than I can describe to show my children that dreams can come true with hard work. To show them how to get back up after life has knocked them down. To show them that solo/single moms are powerful—and can make big things happen when they set their minds to it.  


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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