Thursday, June 22, 2023

Q&A with Corinne Demas




Corinne Demas is the author of the new novel The Road Towards Home. Her other books include the new children's picture book Once There Was. She is a professor emerita at Mount Holyoke College, and she lives in Massachusetts.



Q: What inspired you to write The Road Towards Home, and how did you create your characters Noah and Cassandra?


A: My inspiration for The Road Towards Home came, in part, from hearing about friends (some of them retirement age) who were exploring new relationships, and witnessing their excitement and joy when they fell in love. 


I started writing this novel when the pandemic hit, and it was wonderful for me to have a fictional world to escape to—a world I could create and control, while the outside world was so alarming and unpredictable. Writing about characters who had hope and a certain degree of optimism, who found themselves willing to take risks, who defied conventional stereotypes of “seniors” was a pleasure in the midst of dark times. 


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between the two?


A: My two main characters, Noah (who is a retired English professor) and Cassandra (who is an entomologist) are a rather unlikely pair. He’s a serious cello player and she hates music. She’s fond of her unruly, slobbery Newfoundland, and he dislikes dogs. Moby Dick, a novel she found boring, is one of his favorites.  And yet…


It’s the “and yet” that interests as a writer, and I had a grand time playing with the dynamics between these two unconventional septuagenarians who are unquestionably intrigued by and attracted to each other.  Their relationship is lively and unexpected. I loved listening to them in my head and writing down their dialogue.  

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


A: My editor (Alicia Clancy at Lake Union), my agent (Jennifer Weltz at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency), and I discussed dozens of possible titles. I was happy when we decided on The Road Towards Home because it evokes so well some of the main themes in the story.  


My characters do set off by car on an actual road when they take off from their senior living community and head to a rough cottage on Cape Cod, but of course the “road” serves as a metaphor as well, just as the word “home,” does, too. The quest for “home”  and the question about what constitutes a “home” are concerns that run through the whole novel.   


Q: The writer Marilyn Simon Rothstein said of the novel, “Cassandra and Noah will open your mind--and your heart--to finding love at any stage of life.” What do you think of that description?


A: I love Marilyn Simon Rothstein’s description—it’s so generous! This is a novel about possibility.  The two main characters, Cassandra and Noah, cautiously experiment with the possibility of finding love (I won’t spoil the ending by revealing whether they actually succeed in finding it), and the novel explores the process of opening yourself to another person, allowing yourself to be vulnerable. 


And that happens at any age! And it certainly can happen more than once.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: As soon as I completed the last copyediting round for The Road Towards Home and the novel was finally out of my hands, I felt bereft and plunged into a new one. 


The novel I’m working on now is about a grandmother, a daughter, and a granddaughter, and the friction and affection that intensifies when they end up living together. The setting is an old farm, so I’ve been able to include not only chickens, but donkeys, too. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Readers are often surprised (and perplexed) that I write books for both for adults and children, yet I’ve enjoyed doing this throughout my writing career. In the midst of a long project like a novel, which can take many years, it’s refreshing to focus on something short, like a picture book—it’s more like writing a poem.


I write books for the children in my family as Christmas presents every year, so I always have a built-in audience awaiting (expecting!) new work.


This spring has been unusual in that I have a picture book and a novel appearing in print less than a month apart. My newest picture book, Once There Was, was published on May 2, and the pub date for my new novel, The Road Towards Home, was June 1. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Corinne Demas.

No comments:

Post a Comment