A Chance Meeting with Mary Casanova

The following post is from 2007 but here are the details of the 2008 craft fair for those who are landing on this blog because they are looking for information:

Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair
09/06 to 09/07 2008
Downtown – Little Falls, MN
# of Exhibitors: 700 

I live in a small town, each year in September the hub of downtown is taken over by crafters from all over the United States and our small town hosts one of the largest craft fairs in the country. Last year a surge of 130,000 descended on  downtown Little Falls, a similar figure was expected this year. My daugther and I were among the shopper both years. After a good long wander, my daughter and I stopped in at the neighborhood bookstore to poke around and say hi to Laura Hansen and her dog Jack.

I’ve known Laura for about 2 years now, she is a local poet who owns and operates the local bookstore, Bookin It. She also heads The Great River Writers group of which I am a member. Despite the length of time I’ve known Laura, I can’t seem to shake the propencity to call her Laurie. It’s a strange habit, I rename people without realizing it. If your name is John and you remind me of a Frank, I will call you Frank at least 50% of the time.

After calling Laura, Laurie…again, I noticed a copy of Water for Elephants displayed on a shelf and I commented on how much I enjoyed the story. I joined Audible, and Simply Audio to test drive listening to books on my MP3 player. Water for Elephants has been my first experience with listening to a book. As much I as I love reading, I find that I have too little time to cover all the material I’d like to cram in.  In addition to the audio of Water for Elephants, I am also reading The Sixth Extinction, Saving Fish From Drowning and The Kite Runner. Kite Runner tends to tug my attentions most often. It was my hope that if I listened to some of the material while doing things I enjoy less, like laundry, cleaning the house and walking off my waistline, that it would add embellishment to the mundane and I would get more “reading” material covered in a shorter timeframe. My only real question was, would I enjoy the experience as much.

After listening to Water for Elephants, I can honestly say that the quality of the reading is excellent and I found listening to a story every bit as satisfying and reading one.  As I commented on the book author Mary Casanova, chimed in and said she too enjoyed the book. Lucky for me, Casanova happened to be signing copies of her most recent book The Klipfish Code at the same time my daughter and I happened in.

Laura introduced me (kindly using my correct name) as a member of the Great River Writer’s group, so naturally, Casanova and I talked about writing. I explained to her that progress on my story had been slow. I’ve spent the past year polishing my writing skill, I told her that I wanted to do justice to the story. I went on to say that the story I am writing may very well be my life’s work. Casanova said that she never hangs on to her work too long.  Casanova credited her ability to churn out published material to her unwillingness to hold on too tight. She said that she writes a story, reads and edits it once or twice then ships it off. I told Casanova that I didn’t have another story to move on to and she replied, “we’re only given one story at a time, once you write the one that is in your head the next one will come you.”

What a delightful and unexpected notion. And she was right about the letting go of your work part. I did not want The Eyes to See Grace to sound like a children’s book and when I began writing the story that is exactly how I thought it sounded.  After my first public reading with the Great River Writer’s group a woman approached me after the reading and said, that my writing reminded her of Kate DiCamillo work. Despite being a true a fan of Tiger Rising and the Tale of Despereaux, I knew I wasn’t reflecting the rich, very adult tone I felt about the story. I began reading honing in on the work of authors that inspired me, Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Gabriel Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

What I learned was that the answer didn’t lie within a single component rather from all elements, narrative, character, voice, tone, I even felt truth to be among the elements. The following year at the annual book reading, the guest speaker and published author approached me after the reading, and commended my work saying, “that book you are writing is a movie, you’ve written Out of Africa.” I could not have been more flattered. Her choice of comparison was uncanny,  I had told my daughter a year earlier… I want the story to be an epic like Out of Africa. When she said, Out of Africa I felt like Air Jordan slam-dunking a b-ball…swoosh.

That having been said, it is indeed time to let go and push for completion of my first draft.

Before we left, Casanova looked at my 17 year old and said, you write too…I can tell by the twinkle in your eye. Mary Casanova could not have been more right. The narrative flows from that child like a river. She is in fact so good that when school let out for the summer classmates began calling in July wanting to read the next chapters of her book! My daughter of course thinks because she is still a young girl that there must me more to it that she couldn’t be an author at 17…princess, you already have a captivated audience, so you are an author. I will be sure and add excerpts from Lexrae’s book this website.

Wearing Mules to the Party,



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Filed under Books, Fiction Writing, Life, Little Falls, Minnesota Fiction, Writing

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