REMAINDER (my newly-published novel) has as its background the first year of war following the events of 9/11. It was the year when we tried to assimilate the shock, realized we were in a whole new world, and attempted to pull together to cope, even as emotions tore at the fringes to rend us apart. It is one of the reasons, I think, that agents and publishers didn’t quite know what to do with it and so rejected it.
But I was intrigued by what we were going through, even as we went through it. We are a large family, and all the kids were in some form of school in 2001. We had a lot of holding and talking and loving and strategizing to do. At the same time, as any parent – particularly a mom – knows, despite everything, when the sun rises the next day (and it does), the laundry will need to be done, groceries will need to be bought, the car will need to be fixed, and (eventually) we will all need to go to school or to work. After all, they say a return to normalcy is the best way to get past a traumatic event. Maybe so, but there must be time for grief and adjustment, as well.
The people of Remainder have made their initial adjustments, and now they are learning that life does go on, and we must engage in it and cope with it. For people farther away from ground zero than New York or Washington, DC, the war could seem remote. Everyone had to decide for themselves how they regarded the war. Everyone had to decide how to incorporate the surreal with the real as they took up their live again apace.
REMAINDER is about what it’s like to face personal pain and local community trial while still reeling from blows dealt by a world gone mad. It’s about the path each of us finds through the mess we have to conquer in our own lives.
I started writing REMAINDER some time ago, and I left it alone for a while before the final edits. I was surprised to find I’d done a little foreshadowing of reality as I was writing. While I missed where it landed our country, I picked up on the the distrust, the suspicions, the diminishing of others in our midst. I failed to see how far it would take us. Maybe just as well, because I don’t know that I wanted to write that book. But my hope is that we will come back together to be a different, a better people. That is something the people in Remainder could show us how to do.