“You wouldn’t think a book about spousal abuse could be magical, but the prolific Webb achieves just that in this page turner.” Publisher’s Weekly
When I saw that review, I knew I had accomplished what I set out to do with this novel. Spousal abuse is a hard subject to write about without making the story dark and depressing. I enjoy tackling a difficult, complex subject, but I always try to balance tears with laughter, fear with hope. Maybe that’s my optimistic nature asserting itself. Maybe it’s my Southern roots showing.
There are several ways to achieve this kind of balance. Years ago, in Driving Me Crazy I used liberal doses of humor to offset the heartbreak of caring for an aging mother whose time was running out. When I wrote The Tender Mercy of Roses (for Simon & Schuster as Anna Michaels), I used the humorous voice of Pony Jones to balance tragedy. But I also discovered that I love using magical realism. The legend of the Cherokee rose was ready-made for the kind of magic I wove into The Tender Mercy of Roses.
When it came time to write the second book for Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books, I knew I wanted to find a subject that would lend itself to magical realism. The circus was an obvious choice. The big top is already a world of fantasy. But how to find that particular brand of mysticism I wanted?
I turned to my friend, Bob Kenney, a magician who is also a circus buff. In his long career spinning magic onstage, he collected some fantastic books about mud shows, the circus on the 70s after the big top left behind trains and began to travel in trucks. My research led me to rediscover the great equestrians and the iconic big cat trainers.
It was Mabel Stark, the first female tiger tamer who set The Language of Silence on fire. The historical figure was the inspiration for Lola, Ellen’s abused grandmother who ran away to the circus and transformed herself into the world’s first female tiger tamer.
This book will be available everywhere on September 9th, and I can’t wait for you to read it! I’m doing an extensive tour, so please check my appearances on both websites (here and at www.peggywebb.com) to see when I’ll be in your city. I look forward to seeing you.
One lucky commenter on today’s blog will receive a signed copy of the book.