Saturday, August 29, 2009

Guest Post: Heather Gudenkauf author of The Weight of Silence

Heather Gudenkauf, author of the book The Weight of Silence, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote just for us!

I also must note here that Heather is an absolute sweetheart! She was a complete doll to work with!

I’m first and foremost a reader. I love to read – fiction, nonfiction, poetry. Nearly anything. I’d always thought one day I would write a novel, but my children were little and I worked as an elementary school teacher. Where would I find the time to write a novel? The idea for The Weight of Silence, the story of two young girls who vanish and the desperate hunt to find them, came about one day as I was hiking in the woods near my home. I was by myself and wondered what I would do if I fell and got hurt or if I somehow managed to get myself lost. Then I thought about how frightening it would be for a young child to be lost in those woods. There was a book in there somewhere.

As a mother of young children and an elementary teacher, I knew I would need to make the best use of my time and gave myself a year to write the book. I bought myself a beautiful journal and began writing the day after school was out for the summer. I climbed into the car with my husband and kids and wrote while we traveled across the state on our family vacation. I wrote early in the morning and late into the night while my children slept and finished the first draft just before school started that fall. I set the manuscript aside for a few months and returned to my work as a busy third grade teacher.

A few months later, during my winter break from school, I pulled the manuscript out of the drawer, reread what I had written, took a deep breath, and sent off the first fifty pages to a literary agency that represented authors that I respected. I tried not to think about my story out there in the world, being read by others to critique – or even worse – out there not being read at all. A few weeks into the new year came the request from the literary agent for the remainder of the manuscript. I sent off the rest of the story and waited with anticipation. Would she decide to take me on? Would she give my book, give me a chance? She did. After much collaboration and revision the novel was ready to send off to publishers. Eventually my story found its way to Mira Books and, thankfully, found its home there.

My advice to those of you who want to write? Write when you are able, write the best story you can and never, ever give up.

---Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence:

It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.

Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

About Heather:

Heather Gudenkauf was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent the last sixteen years working with students of all ages and is currently an Instructional Coach, an educator who provides curricular and professional development support to teachers. The Weight of Silence is her first novel.

Heather lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Maxine. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her second novel.

Visit Heather Gudenkauf’s website HERE.

Thank you so much to Heather for joining us today! If you'd like to pick up a copy of her book The Weight of Silence click on the cover image below.


Diane said...

This book sounds so great. Thanks for profiling this one Beth.

Lit and Life said...

Thanks for the great post. I'm anxious to get my hands on this book.

Shawna said...

Shawna Lewis

Perfect review/interview NOW I really want to read this book!!!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I usually avoid books about this sort of thing; it hits too close to home. But given this guest blog, I'm adding the book to my wishlist.

Awesome job, Beth. Thanks for introducing us to someone new.

Post a Comment