Lynne Reeves is the author of the new novel The Dangers of an Ordinary Night. Her other books include the novel Girl Sent Away, written under the name Lynne Griffin. Also a family counselor, she lives in the Boston area.
Q: What inspired you to write The Dangers of an Ordinary
A: When I was a teenager, my father died of sudden cardiac death. My acting in plays and my escapes to the theater sustained me for years as I worked through that awful grief. It’s also true that his death triggered mental health issues in some family members that have been the source of much pain and sadness for me.
As with many fiction writers, it’s at the intersection of ideas that novels are made. Writing about addiction and theater seemed inevitable to me. Finding this story, for the right characters, has been in my mind and in my heart for years.
Q: How did you create your characters Nell, Cynthia, and
A: All of my novels have more than one point-of-view because I write about family dynamics, which can never be accurately seen from one vantage point. Juggling three POVs was particularly challenging and enjoyable.
To pull it all together, I needed Nell, Cyn, and Fitz to share common motivating forces. In this story, each main character has a big blindspot that he or she brings to a close relationship. And each one has a lot to lose if the person responsible for the betrayal is who they fear most.
Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started
writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: I always have a rough idea of how my novels will end, and still I try to remain open to the discovery of details that will pack the biggest emotional punch while also leaving the reader with a sense of hope.
My novels tackle complicated family and social issues that raise questions that don’t have easy answers. I’ve done what I set out to do, if in the end, readers wonder what they might do if also faced with the same complex relationship dilemmas.
Q: What do you think the book says about addiction and its
impact on family relationships?
A: I hope readers feel that the addiction experience is portrayed honestly and candidly, with all its accompanying love and anxiety.
I wanted the novel to acknowledge that substance use disorders have a ripple effect on intimate partners and children that we don’t talk about as much as we should. In my counseling work, I try to educate my clients on all that is knowable about addiction prediction, especially related to children.
If the novel adds anything to the conversation about reducing stigma around mental health, that would be important to me.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: My next novel, Dark Rivers to Cross, shares sensibilities with John Irving’s Last Night at Twisted River and Nancy Price’s Sleeping with the Enemy, and it explores what one woman is willing to do to save her sons from family violence. At the moment, it’s slated to be published late next year.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: If readers are interested in other books about addiction, I recommend the nonfiction titles Addiction Inoculation by Jessica Lahey, Dopesick by Beth Macy, and the graphic novel Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb