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Starting over is hard enough but when ghosts decide to hitch a ride into the future—things can get complicated.
Widowed Vivi leaves California for a new start back east landing in a college town near her old friend Vikram, now the local ‘spiritual’ leader and disappointing lover. But the two have old business which leads them to uncovering the ghosts they conjured long before and the ones that are haunting them now. Vivi reclaims her life, -- with the help of a couple different dimensions-- saying hi to the ghosts who choose to hang around, and growing a new garden and a new life.
read an excerpt...
The night before she left LA, Vivi went out to the garden. She walked from the butterfly bush she planted when she got the garden show on cable tv, to the poinsettia tree that grew despite itself after Vivi left the Christmas plant discarded near the mulch pile. She moved from corner to corner, touching the leaves, murmuring that she had no choice, that she couldn’t take the entire garden with her wherever she was going and that she was grateful for the beauty that the garden had shared with her. The Dutch hornpipe was in bloom. That huge bulbous balloon of a flower was all puffed up and ready to burst into an elephant ear of color, reflecting all sound, all smell within its radius. It was an outrageous creation. It dripped like flesh when it opened, had no smell of its own, but instead an ineffable ugly wisdom that affirmed the truth that “as you sow, so shall you reap”. It was an extraordinary product of the garden and Vivi respected it, admiring how it took over the fence and nearby trellis with its ganglia.
That was the thing about California. Things grew. And Vivi had thought they would grow, too. She and Jake. They would grow together, like slices of grafted root trees, they would grow strong in one tall ascension. She had been sure that they could make it. But she had to admit, they never did.
about Susan Merson...
Susan Merson began her career as an actress on and off Broadway, in television and film. Co-founding the LA Writers Bloc in 1985 with award winning writer Jane Anderson, she has mentored writers through the Bloc and through her private and university classes in Playwriting, Life Stories, Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Tarot for Writers and the popular VOICING Series. Her short fiction has been featured in The Jew in America, Nice Jewish Girls (Penguin), The Worcester Review, the Chicken Soup series and several other online platforms. As a playwright, her award-winning plays have been performed internationally, including her 8 solo plays featured and used as example in YOUT NAME HERE: An Actor Writers Guide to Solo Performance. (Amazon). Long form fiction available on Amazon is her award-winning blog, WHEN THEY GO AND YOU DO NOT and her first novel DREAMING IN DAYLIGHT. OH GOOD NOW THIS, her newest novel launches 12/1/21. She is a tarot reader and counselor, a maker of quilts, clothing and whimsy. Susan is a humble mother and a proud resident of New York City. www.susanmerson.com
SUSAN MERSON AUTHOR: https://www.facebook.com/susanmersonauthor
The author has also done a series of five videos regarding the use of Tarot for writers (for more information, visit her website):
1: Author/ teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/ Amazon) explores Tarot to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #1: INTRODUCTION
An introduction to using your own intuitive powers to tap into the resonance of Tarot images, packed with archetypes and symbols, to jumpstart inspiration for your artistic projects.
**CORRECTION: The Raziel Tarot Deck is designed by artist Robert Place with commentary by Rachel Pollack. https://youtu.be/LGONsfOayJg
2: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/Amazon), explores TAROT cards to jumpstart your writing, TAROT FOR WRITERS #2: LANDSCAPE
Explore the landscape of story. Entering the world of the card offers visceral clues to the landscape of your writing. https://youtu.be/Mwq9x-I9oQE
3: Author/ teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/ Amazon) explores TAROT cards to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #3: CHARACTER.
A brief exploration of character and how to find their first basic journey. Look deeply at the character clues in the cards and throw three cards to begin their adventure. https://youtu.be/CuovTNQ5ztk
4: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/AMAZON) explores TAROT cards to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #4: WHAT STORY SHOULD I WRITE TODAY
On pulling cards to intuitively discover the story, the genre, the themes and the major turning points of a new story. https://youtu.be/eHm0mVSNaPo
5: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/AMAZON) explores TAROT to jumpstart your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS/ #5 TIMELINES AND DEEPER DIVE INTO RELATIONSHIPS
Timelines and going deeper into relationships with pro and antagonists. The more cards you draw the more information you can gather. https://youtu.be/EClPq0e-H70
more personal "stuff" about Susan Merson...
Does this book have a special meaning to you? i.e. where you found the idea, its symbolism, its meaning, who you dedicated it to, what made you want to write it?
My mom was a fierce one. She rocked and rolled with the many punches that came at her. In the end, she was widowed four times and spent the last eighteen years of her life in a declining state of clinical depression. A major imprint for me was a phone call I made to her when she was in the hospital.
I was in my 20’s. She had refused to get on the pay phone in the ward for weeks. I still tried most days, at 4 pm, to reach her. Just before they were served their dinner. Mostly I was left on the other end of the line, listening to the clang of the receiver against the metal shelf.
One day I heard a clanking, a fumble against fabric and soft breathing. I heard waiting.
“Mom?’ I said, hopefully. “Mom?” I said.
“My heart is broken,” came her strained and smoky voice. “I have a broken heart.”
And the phone crashed back onto its cradle.
OH GOOD NOW THIS is about resilience and meeting life’s challenges head on. It’s dedicated to my mother. Her courage, humor and guts. To getting on the phone when it is the last thing on God’s green earth that makes sense. To the lesson of accepting what life has to give and going on anyway.
Where do you get your storylines from?
Two quotes inspire me.
“If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you.” It’s the motto of my home state, Michigan. It used to make me laugh when I was a kid. I mean, how often does one actually seek a ‘pleasant peninsula’? If you can even figure out what a ‘pleasant peninsula’ might be. Nevertheless, when I am ready to write, I seek a ‘pleasant peninsula’. A landscape that I can explore and tear into. A place that holds the complexity of living things. That is ‘pleasant’ in its many layers, contradictions and unsolved mysteries.
Then, there is the advice of Rainer Maria Rilke. “And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me, life is right in any case,” he wrote. I have learned that indeed, ‘life is right in any case.’. It's the way that “life is right’ that fascinates me and compels me to the page. Life’s idea of what is fair may not be the same as ours. But, it’s always startling and worthy of a look.
Was this book easier or more difficult to write than others? Why?
This story was an amalgamation of many stories I have known, told and felt as mine for many years. Finding the way the pieces fit together was satisfying and mystifying at some points. What seemed perfectly clear to me remained opaque to others. How did ghosts and past lives fit into the normal story of a normal enough woman just doing the normal stuff she needed to do in order to flourish? And yet, I believed that the connection of all the spiritual dimensions was central to telling this honestly.
This book taught me that, especially now, in this time in history, we live in more than one dimension or at least are affected by more than one dimension. It's the living fully from your polar star right down to the roots that hit earth’s center that creates a person. Bringing all that under one tent was a welcome challenge. In the end, I understand and stand under Vivi’s story. And am delighted that she is flourishing in her world and in ours.
Do you only write one genre?
I am also a playwright and have also done a nonfiction book on the art of solo performance (YOUR NAME HERE; AN ACTOR WRITERS GUIDE TO SOLO PERFORMANCE). And a published blog on the death of my husband, (WHEN THEY GO AND YOU DO NOT).
Give us a picture of where you write, where you compose these words…is it Starbucks, a den, a garden…we want to know your inner sanctum?
Because of Covid, I have moved from my little office off the street to my workroom in the back of the house. I am surrounded by fabrics and yarn of all colors because another part of me is an out of control craftsperson. Hanging behind me are a crochet winter poncho with blues and golds and textures that are smooth to the touch, a hand pieced coat of pink and green cotton and rolls of kimono fabric ready for transformation. Piled in another corner, maybe waiting for Rumplestiltskin, are layers of old quilt scraps and small squares appliqued with satin, Indian mirror pieces, sari fabric and roses cut from barclough fabric. Oh, and next to that is a curtain of sheer pink tulle on which is pinned a wonderful, 3-d, cutout collection of three roaring dinosaurs. We are all in a state of possibility.
When I come to my desk, it is a different story. It is a wooden pull down platform and I sit and face a wonderful brick wall covered with veins of vine during winter which transform to ruffling green leaves in other seasons. Winter time is a feast of outlines against the wall, and my yearly gift of an amaryllis plant sits glorious and tall before me. It has arrived most of the last five years like clockwork from a former lover who no longer speaks to me, except through the beauty of these blooms. They are long lasting, delicate, rich and dependable in their embrace.
My desk is littered with a Buddha for inspiration, a tea tray for caffeine and sugar, tarot cards for yet another part of my work and my computer. The castle keep of my work. God Bless, Steve Jobs. I don’t think I could write by hand anymore. The tumble of words and ideas at this time in my life pours through me and onto the screen. I am too old to want to chase them, but rather delighted to have them fall perfectly through my fingers from above, and, then, below. Here. For us all. Messages from another realm.
And finally, of course…was there any specific event or circumstance that made you want to be a writer
I have always been a story teller. I told stories to my dolls to keep them company. I made up stories to keep me company when I was the kid on the block sitting alone on the stone porch because the other kids were too stuck up to include me.
I embodied stories in my early years as an actress. Then, the story was in my face and in my body. As my body changed, and my understanding of language and power grew, I began to tell stories for the stage that allowed me to be in control of the stories I was bringing to the world, the characters I was being asked to portray. I wrote the words that I spoke on the stage as a solo performer.
And gradually, I claimed the ultimate power of creating all parts of the world. It all came from me and I realized the strength and power of being in charge of my own voice.
Fiction is me from beginning to end. It is my tent these days, and I am happy to fill it full to overflowing.
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