Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway || The Invisibles by Cecilia Galante

The Invisibles
by Cecilia Galante
Release date: August 4th 2015
Series: None
Publisher: William Morrow
Genres: Women's fiction, contemporary
Age category: Adult
No. of pages:  400 pages (paperback)
ISBN: 0062363514 (ISBN13: 9780062363510)
In the vein of Meg Donohue and Jennifer Close, comes Cecilia Galante's adult debut about the complicated and powerful bonds of female friendship--a compelling, moving novel that is told in both the present and the past.

Thrown together by chance as teenagers at Turning Winds Home for Girls, Nora, Ozzie, Monica, and Grace quickly bond over their troubled pasts and form their own family which they dub The Invisibles. But when tragedy strikes after graduation, Nora is left to deal with the horrifying aftermath alone as the other three girls leave home and don't look back.

Fourteen years later, Nora is living a quiet, single life working in the local library. She is content to focus on her collection of "first lines" (her favorite opening lines from novels) and her dog, Alice Walker, when out-of-the-blue Ozzie calls her on her thirty-second birthday. But after all these years, Ozzie hasn't called her to wish a happy birthday. Instead, she tells Nora that Grace attempted suicide and is pleading for The Invisibles to convene again. Nora is torn: she is thrilled at the thought of being in touch with her friends, and yet she is hesitant at seeing these women after such a long and silent period of time. Bolstered by her friends at the library, Nora joins The Invisibles in Chicago for a reunion that sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will change each of their lives forever.

The Invisibles is an unforgettable novel that asks the questions: How much of our pasts define our present selves? And what does it take to let go of some of our most painful wounds and move on?
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How long did it take you to write The Invisibles?
          It took me about a year to write the first draft and then another six months to finish a second, third, and fourth draft. After it was accepted for publication, I had to do some additional rewriting on certain sections, so by the time I put my pen down for good, the entire process had taken about two and a half years. It was definitely the most time-consuming of all my books – which makes it that much more rewarding to see it out there!

Where did you get ideas for this book?
          I had an unusual childhood, born into and raised for the first fifteen years in a fanatically religious cult in upstate New York. Children were separated from their parents at six months old, which meant that I was raised for the first three years of my life in a mass nursery with other children my age. Needless to say, the bonds I formed with these children – most of them girls – were as strong as any I’ve ever shared with anyone in my life.

          The cult leader died when I was 10 years old, and the cult itself finally dissolved when I was 15. This lead to families and parents scattering all over the country, taking their children – and my soulmates – with them, some of whom I never saw again. I spent years wondering what had happened to these girls and what might happen if we ever saw each other again, and this became the inspiration for The Invisibles. What might happen at such a meeting? What kind of people might they have turned into? How similar were they to the people they once were? And what, out of all the memories they shared, were they going to be able to come to terms with? To forgive?

What do you do when you're not writing?
          I read constantly. Right now, I have a stack of 17 books by my bed, which I dip into at any given time. I try to get some form of exercise every day, since I spend so much time sitting. I love to run, although at 44, it’s starting to wreak havoc on my knees, and I really enjoy a good trail ride on my mountain bike. I also love to cook, try new foods, and watch reruns of Law & Order: SVU. I’m a huge Mariska Hargitay fan!

Is there anything you would like to change in The Invisibles?
          No, I don’t think so!

Can you describe your writing process?
          Since I teach full time and have summers off, I actually have two writing processes. During the school year, if I am working on something new – especially a first draft that my editor hasn’t seen yet - I get up at 4:00 am and write steadily until 6:00 a.m., when I have to stop and get ready for school. (Lots of coffee here!) If I am at the point of editing something during the school year, I won’t adhere to such a rigid schedule. I believe the first draft of a new book needs to come quickly and fluidly, which is why I discipline myself to a daily, two-hour morning time-frame. Editing on the other hand, is a much more relaxed process for me, since most of the framework is already there.

          During the summer, as you might imagine, anything goes. My kids go to camp, so I have loads of time to myself, but I definitely don’t waste it. I’ll spend half the day writing and the other half walking, thinking, and basically ruminating about what I’ve just written. It’s really the best time I have to get a leg up on new projects. Still, when it comes times to go on vacation with my husband and kids, I put my pen down and go.

Do you have writing inspirations? Who are they?
          I think almost everything that Ranier Marie Rilke told his young protégée about writing in Letters to a Young Poet is an inspiration. I love that Maya Angelou used to write in the dark, and then finished as the sun rose because she liked to imagine her work moving from dark to light. And I have a good writing friend named Roland Merullo (Breakfast with Buddha), who taught me about the first draft process, namely writing it down as quickly and possibly as I could without worrying about how it sounded. This is a technique that has really worked for me, and I use it to this day, so I would have to say that he is another, very true writing inspiration.

What's next for you?
          More books, I hope!


          It wasn’t until she reached the corner of Grove Street, where the sidewalk buckled and the pre-dawn smells of yeast and fabric softener perfumed the air, that Nora remembered it was her thirty-second birthday. She stopped abruptly, as if someone had yanked a leash around her neck, and let the information settle along her shoulders. Thirty-two. The number rolled around in her head, and she waited for the onslaught of—what was it exactly: relief? dread?—that was supposed to arrive at reaching the end of another year, but it didn’t come. Instead, the first line from a book she had once read occurred to her: “Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.” Nora could not remember the title of the book or even the name of the author, but the words themselves, strung like so many lights in the distance, felt as distressing now as they had the day she had first come across them. Maybe even more so.

          A band of sky behind the rooftops ahead was turning a soft purple. The moon, a lopsided waxing gibbous, was so translucent as to appear glass-like there in the heavens. It would be another forty minutes or so before the sun rose, erasing all traces of the moon for the day. Now, though, it was hers. The September air was sharply cold, the imminent warning of a quickly approaching fall, and the streets were littered with leaves browning around the edges. Alice Walker, her chocolate brown retriever, nuzzled the stiff grass for a few seconds and then turned around, staring up at Nora. She barked once, and then again. It was unusual for Nora to stop during their morning walks, a daily ritual that had become so ingrained in their lives by this point that it was hard to imagine anything preventing it. Even bad weather did little to deter her; Nora made the trek in rain and snow, and once even in a hailstorm, during which she’d had to stop and take refuge under an enormous red-and- green-striped awning until things settled down again. Walking cleared her head in a way few other things could, and she never turned around until she reached the little grove of birch trees by the railroad tracks, where she would sit for a moment and rest before starting back again.

          Alice Walker barked again, loudly, the sound reverberating through the stillness, and then cocked her head. The birch trees, her eyes seemed to say. Let’s get to the birch trees. Nora looked away from the dog and stared down at her sneakers instead—pale blue Asics with orange strips on each side. She pressed two fingers beneath her breastbone and took a breath as if to steady herself. A heaviness that was not disappointment or regret or anything else she could identify yet filled her nonetheless. And for the first time in as long as she could remember, she did not want to keep walking toward the birch grove. She just wanted to go home.

          “Come on, love,” she said, turning around, tugging at Alice Walker’s leash. “Let’s go.”

          The dog barked a third time, obviously confused.

          Nora’s feet moved with a mind of their own, leading her back to the apartment they shared on Winslop Avenue. “Yeah, well, I don’t know either,” she said. “Come on, now.”

About the authors:

Cecilia Galante is the author of several middle grade, young adult and adult novels. She also teaches 8th grade English at Wyoming Seminary Prep School, and teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Wilkes University.
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Three (3) print copies of The Invisibles (US only) 08/23
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