Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jacqueline Sheehan, Lost and Found

I became aware of this book when I read about the movie deal with Katherine Heigl's new production company. You know I love to hear book to movie news and try to stay on top of it. Naturally I had to get my hands on a copy of Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan. Not only did I feel inspired by the movie news but the premise of the book appealed to me. A happily married woman's life changes in an instant when her husband dies. She leaves her old life behind to start over and ends up in a small island off the coast of Maine where she becomes the Animal Warden. Into Rocky's life walks Lloyd, a friendly Lab who has been struck with an arrow. Rocky and Lloyd form a deep connection, each depending on the other for love, comfort, friendship. I don't want to give too much away, I want you to read this book.

Books often surprise me. Whoever said you can't judge a book by its cover was spot-on. From the cover you think this is going to be a funny little chick-lit kind of book but it goes deeper than that. It's not humorous and it's not light. Lost & Found is well written with characters that I can easily envision on the big screen. I sincerely hope that Katherine Heigl stars in this movie adaptation because she would be brilliant in the role of Rocky. As for the role of Lloyd, may I suggest my dog Lola? She's a black Great Dane but is ready to pursue a challenging movie role, perhaps that of a male Labrador?

Have you ever had a pet that you depended on like Rocky with Lloyd in the book?

My golden retriever, Poncho, was my companion in Chicago, my running and hiking partner in Oregon, and in his old age, my pal for exploring the high desert arroyos of New Mexico. He was an extraordinarily friendly dog who greeted almost everyone like a long lost relative, so I would occasionally forget that I was his to protect when he judged situations to be dangerous. When we lived in Oregon, a good friend of mine died suddenly from an aneurysm; I was completely shaken by her death and initially I couldn’t talk about it with other people. So I packed up Poncho and drove to the Oregon Dunes, hiked into the wilderness area for several miles and camped for three days. I intentionally picked the most isolated area.

On the third day, a man drove by in a jeep and spotted my tent nestled between several dunes. He walked up and said to me, “I see you are all alone here,” which was a sketchy thing to say and Poncho knew it before I could respond. The dog rose up like a dragon, lifting every hair on his body, exposed every one of his impressive fangs and then began to bark in the most serious manner, closing in on the guy like a laser. The man understood instantly and cleared out without saying another word to me. There were only two other occasions when Poncho did this, and both times he did not negotiate.

With some dogs, there is a powerful sense of interdependence in the relationship, a sense of “we’re in this together.” And some dogs have a personality that is heroic.

Why did you choose archery as a sport for Rocky?

I have been fascinated with archery for a long time. It is elegant, elemental, and it requires an understanding of becoming still in the core; one must have a full connection with the body, the ability to relax the body in some places so that other muscles can have maximum focus. And it is also an incredibly difficult sport that requires robust upper body strength.

When Rocky is thrown from her foundation by Bob’s death, she loses connection with her core self, her body, even her own breath. So archery provided the perfect sport (or art) for Rocky to learn if she was ever going to recover. And Rocky is a competitive person, which added enough fuel to get her started.

I took a few archery lessons while doing research for this book. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and it gave me even more respect for archers.

When I played sports, I played soccer, which I learned as an adult. I played for several years and loved everything about it. I loved the constant pace of it and the sheer exhilaration of running. Later I coached my daughter’s soccer teams until 7th grade, and then I was sort of fired when real soccer players were needed for coaching. It is the main sport that I watch; I understand it.

First book about Sojourner Truth….difference between fiction and non-fiction.

Both of my novels are fiction. The first book, Truth, was a re-imagining of Sojourner Truth’s life. I did years of research to discover the culture of the early 19th Century, but all of the thoughts and conversations were fictional. I wanted to understand something about her and the only way I could do it was to write this story. I wanted to know why her spirit wasn’t broken by slavery, by being sold from her parents, and not allowed to choose her own husband. And I took a psychological look at her abuse, and how it would affect her as an adult.

What is your favorite way to relax?

I just can’t say enough good things about naps. I’ll often take a 20-30 minute nap and pose a question about a character that I’m writing. Taking a nap relaxes my brain and lets more creative ideas come forward. I also take very long walks for exactly the same reason. I have written many complete stories in my head while taking walks for 4 or 5 miles.

For full out relaxations, I kayak on the Connecticut River. For indulgent relaxing, I take a bag of Frito Lay potato chips with me into my hammock. Heaven.

How has life changed since publishing L&F?

The success of Lost and Found made it so much easier to get a contract for my next book. I have one of the smartest agents around, in fact I just renamed her The Best Ever Agent, (aka, Jenny Bent), and she has really guided me through the world of publishing.

The biggest change is having so much contact with my readers. I get emails everyday from readers who share their stories of grief, or their stories about powerful relationships with dogs. It is unbelievably gratifying when a reader tells me that reading my book felt like someone else understood their experience of loss and hope.

What will I find you doing on a Saturday night?

The range is pretty broad, from nothing to too much. This Saturday night, I’ve got two choices and I don’t want to pick; I want both. I’m going to a reunion of writers who met at a writing retreat in Wales. There will be one playwright, one poet, and three fiction writers. We’re all bringing something to read that we’ve been working on since Wales. But the second option is an eclectic bonfire, music and road-kill roast.
I’ve been assured that the road kill part is only opportunistic and road kill must be very, very fresh. I’m hesitant but fascinated. But in the hills of western Massachusetts, where we are filled with wild turkeys, deer, and bear, the chances are quite high. In reality, we’ll probably roast something nicely wrapped by the local super market.

What famous, or not so famous, person would you like to meet?

Harper Lee. I hate to say that because I think she has been hounded to death by so many people about a book that she wrote 47 years ago, and she deserves peace and quiet. But I think that To Kill a Mockingbird is nearly a perfect book and I am floored every time I read it.

If you won the lottery, how would you spend your millions?

I’d buy a summer cottage in Vermont where I could host writing retreats for my good writing buddies. We’d need a lake too for swimming.

How did you learn about Katherine Heigl’s interest in the book?

I learned about it through my agent. There were two groups interested in optioning the book for film and after reading more about Katherine, I really wanted her to be the one to work with the film. I think she is talented, smart, and she makes good choices. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with her. I was so stunned that my lips vibrated for an entire day.

What do you think is the key to happiness?

I’m also a psychologist, so this is a question that I think about a lot because people come to me precisely because they are unhappy. There will always be hard struggles in life: sadness, losses, tragedies, and abuses. But those things do not completely define who we are, but they are a part of our history. Being happy means being aware and available for moments of joy when they come our way. The key is being available. If you are no longer available to feel gratitude for the small, everyday joys in life, you will be unhappy no matter how much material wealth you acquire.

And being passionate about work and love. If you have that, you’ve got the whole package.

Labels: , ,


Blogger dj said...
I loved this book, too, and can't wait to see the movie. I love reading the author's thoughts, not only about this book, but life in general. Thanks! @ 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...
This book was amazing. I loved it! @ 3:08 PM  
Anonymous price per head call center said...
Thank you for sharing your journey, it is very inspiring, and I use it to motivate me with my own fat loss journey.
@ 2:53 PM  
Post a Comment  | << Home