Date Published: August 26, 2020 (ebook); September 22, 2020 (print)
Publisher: Propertius Press
Tolan has always let her mother have one secret — how she got that scar on her face — playing along with her mother’s game of inventing outlandish tales to explain the wound away. But when she finds a manuscript on her mother’s computer that promises to reveal the true story, Tolan only hesitates for a moment before curiosity compels her to read on.
She’s hoping for answers, but instead, she finds more mysteries tucked away in her mother’s past. Her mother appears to be associated with Bo, a feisty photojournalist who flies to Cuba in pursuit of a story and becomes embedded with Castro’s rebels, but Tolan can’t quite work out their connection. She’s more clear about the relationship between her mother and Michael, a man twelve years her senior. They bond over their shared outcast status, and their friendship quickly becomes intimate, but the relationship antagonizes the self-appointed moral watchdogs in their small town, who start to convert their threats into action. Tolan is pretty sure that Michael is her father. Her mother told her he died years ago, but the book suggests their story had a different ending.
Almost overnight, everything Tolan thought she knew about herself and her family has changed. She wants answers, but to find them, she risks destroying her closest relationships.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
The emotional endurance required to
finish a novel is considerable. I write very slowly—my three completed novels
took eleven, seven, and five years, respectively, which is longer than most of
the friendships I’ve experienced—and as such, I’m at regular risk of
internalizing the wounds of individuals who don’t, properly speaking, exist.
There is a cost.
What songs are most played on your Ipod?
Songs from Billie Holliday’s catalogue get a lot of play, as does Robert Johnson. I love Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, Itzhak Perlman, 90s rap, and alt rock. I listen to
EDM while I do cardio, so that gets a lot of play as well.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
My wife, Jennifer, is my editor, and I share late drafts with Colten Hibbs, a writer, artist, and activist out of Texas. Colten’s ear is impeccable, and Jennifer has an intuitive sense of what I’m trying to accomplish in a text, both thematically and stylistically, and she is absolutely savage about excising anything that imperils those goals.
What book are you reading now?
Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, Charles Johnson’s Turning the Wheel, and Safiya Sinclair’s Cannibal
How did you start your writing career?
By placing short stories in relatively unknown and/or now defunct online literary journals. It took me twenty years to find a home for my first novel, and I was fortunate enough to place my second a year later.
Tell us about your next release.
About the Author
Ciahnan Darrell's short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, most recently in The Columbia Review, and his story, 'What Remains,' was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is a contributing editor at Marginalia, an international review of literature along the nexus of history, theology, and religion. He holds an MDiv from the University of Chicago, an MA in philosophy and the arts from Stony Brook University, and an MA and PhD in comparative literature from the University at Buffalo. A Lifetime of Men is his first novel.
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