Friday, July 15, 2022

Q&A with Lee Bukowski




Lee Bukowski is the author of the new novel A Week of Warm Weather. Also a teacher and editor, she lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.


Q: What inspired you to write A Week of Warm Weather, and how did you create your character Tessa?


A: I had the idea for years before I began writing my book. I read a lot of women’s fiction, and I love the way the genre explores the human condition and the way we all fumble through life doing our best. As I struggled to navigate my own tumultuous life, I thought I had a story that would resonate with readers.


Without giving spoilers, I was in a situation in my first marriage that forced me to unearth feelings I had not dealt with from my past. I suspected many people, especially women, have family and marital struggles that they put on the back burner to care for everyone else. Like Tessa, they are put together on the outside but falling apart on the inside.


I gave Tessa a voice, and she helped me find mine. As she took shape and grew, I looked at my own life and evolved right along with her. Tessa learns there is no such thing as going around pain; the only way out is through it.


Q: The author Valerie Taylor said of the book, “As I drilled into A Week of Warm Weather, I wondered if love could be that blind? In this emotional page-turner, Bukowski transports us into the downward-spiraling life of a young mother struggling to face her husband's addiction and her own abandonment.” What do you think of that description?


A: Ha! I know what Valerie means by that. I can visualize readers yelling at Tessa, “Come on, girl! Can’t you see he’s manipulating you??”


Tessa does appear to be blind, but I think it’s more that she doesn’t want to see. Facing what her husband is doing means looking in the mirror and admitting why she feels she deserves to be treated badly. She has to figure out her part in her own abuse. Only then can she move on.


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 had a fairly good idea where I would end AWoWW before I started. I wanted the reader to have a sense of whether Tessa’s main conflict is resolved. To take it further would have meant starting a whole other storyline.


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


A: It’s interesting—I had a different title right up until the time I began writing the book. Initially I wanted the title to be Swimming Without Goggles. I didn’t love it, but it was my working title.


Then, as I was writing the book, Tessa says something to her husband that includes the phrase “a week of warm weather” and BAM! As soon as she said the words, I knew it would be my title. (I won’t elaborate because, again, spoiler.)


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Most of my energy this summer goes to getting out the word about A Week of Warm Weather. I’m really enjoying interviews, events, writing guest posts, and especially getting out and meeting my readers.


I have an idea for a second novel, so I’m looking forward to starting that in the fall.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: When I write fiction, I am mindful that my readers are real people with real challenges. They are the sum total of their experiences, and within the pages of my book, they are likely to see a bit of themselves or someone they know. They want to be part of a community of people with shared experiences, even if those people are characters in a novel.


My book explores the effects of abandonment with the hope that readers know it is possible to break the cycle of generational trauma. It explores addiction with the hope that readers recognize and break free from codependent behaviors. It explores abuse with the hope that readers will shed their denial and shame. Mostly, I wrote my book to inspire readers to start a dialogue.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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