Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Q&A with Eileen Garvin


Photo by Kate Schwager



Eileen Garvin is the author of the new novel Crow Talk. Her other books include the novel The Music of Bees. She lives in Oregon.


Q: What inspired you to write Crow Talk, and how did you create your characters Frankie, Anne, and Aiden?

A: I was first inspired to write Crow Talk in the summer of 2020. I’d just turned in the final revision of my first novel, The Music of Bees, to my editor. Right about that time, pandemic restrictions suddenly closed all the trails in and around my hometown.


I’ve taken great comfort in nature since I was a child, and my parents bought a summer house on a lake. Without the (wonderful) distraction of my manuscript to work on, having no access to the woods (my best way to cope with stress) felt like a double whammy.


About a month into those restrictions, I had a chance to return to the old family place at the lake. I felt such relief and gratitude at being there alone and out under the trees. That’s when I got the first glimmer of an idea for Crow Talk.


I thought, what if I took a few wounded people and placed them in a remote, beautiful place? How might proximity to the natural world help them heal?


The characters came to me later, each wrestling with a unique problem, but united in their need to find a way out of grief and isolation.


Q: The novel is set in the Pacific Northwest--how important is setting to you in your writing?

A: Setting is hugely important to me. For one thing, I love where I live, and I feel the Pacific Northwest lends itself to beautifully as a stage for storytelling.


When writing my own stories, that attention to physical location and sensation is automatic because it’s what I seek in the stories I like to read. I want a book to communicate the setting viscerally. Where am I? What does it smell like? What do I hear?

Q: The writer Shelby Van Pelt said of the book, “Eileen Garvin deftly explores our human connections – with each other, with nature, and with ourselves. Crow Talk will leave you in awe at how the smallest, most tender moments can hold the power to transform.” What do you think of that description?

A: Well, I think Shelby Van Pelt’s description is incredibly generous! And yet she captures so deftly what I hope readers will find in this story. I do believe that in life and in stories the seemingly inconsequential moments can change our lives.


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

A: The title was chosen by me as a “good enough” title for the manuscript. I fully expected it to be changed! Neither of my other two books was published with the title I started with. I trust the marketing folks on these sorts of things.


But the title seemed to work for everyone. It’s short and simple. Most obviously it refers to the communication among the crows that Frankie, the ornithologist, begins to discover.


More broadly speaking, Crow Talk refers to the ongoing conversation among birds and other creatures in the world that we can tune into if we pay attention.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on a new novel that’s also set in Hood River, Oregon, like The Music of Bees is.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’m on going on tour for Crow Talk starting in April. If folks want to come to one of my events, they can check out my tour schedule here. I also love to pop into people’s book clubs when my schedule permits. Send me a message from here if you’d like more info.


Thanks so much for the chance to chat!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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