I’m interviewing Michael Hurley, author of literary fiction “The Vineyard”. My questions are bolded, author’s responses are in regular font.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
For me, I think it’s letting go of one book and moving on to the next one. Books are like children. You bring them into the world over many months, from the tiny germ of an idea to a finished creation, with lots of sweat and blood and tears and struggle in between. Once a book is fully formed in a rough first draft, you spend all your time trying to improve it and edit it in such a way as to present it to the world in the best possible light—hoping that others will love and cherish it as much as you do, or at least not knock it down and beat it up on the playground. But, as with children, there comes a time when you have to stand back, say goodbye to your little creation, and wish it well in its journey through the world. You’re done editing it. You have to accept it along with whatever hearts and flowers or slings and arrows are thrown at it.
Can you give us a short synopsis of The Vineyard?
Like most literary fiction, The Vineyard is a multi-layered story, meaning that there are several themes and stories being presented at once—some directly, some obliquely, some allegorically—through the lives of the central characters. On one level, The Vineyard is constructed around a simple plot about what happens to three friends when they get together for the summer, ten years after college. They drink wine. They fight. They cry. They have fun. They throw parties. They have sex. A wedding looms. Someone is pregnant. Someone is cheating. They support and undermine and betray and forgive each other. Charlotte still struggles to recover from the loss of her baby three years ago to cancer. Dory struggles with the legacy of her rich and famous family. Turner struggles with feelings of self-doubt and a need for the adulation of men. For some readers, these events will comprise the entirety of the story. The careful reader will discover, however, that on another level, The Vineyard is using these elements to force the characters to confront larger questions in hopes that the reader will do the same: What is the meaning of faith, and how do we draw the line between faith and superstition? What can we really know, and what do we believe, about the literal truth of the faith stories we have been telling ourselves for millennia? How do we deal with our own mortality? What value do we place on health, wealth, success, fame, and true friendship? What stories do we tell ourselves about heaven and hell, and by what authority do some presume to tell us what happens to us and our loved ones after we die? What faces do we place on good and evil, and can we be sure we always correctly tell the difference between the two? The novel pits the three central characters against conflicts that raise all these questions, and the story is about how each character chooses to answer them.
How many hours per day do you spend writing?
When I am writing actively to finish a novel, I spend five hours each day on average.
Name your top five favorite books.
David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
What are you working on now?
The Passage, my first attempt at a love story, is a May-December romance that unfolds during an unexpected passage from America to Ireland aboard a small sailboat.
About The Vineyard
Author: Michael Hurley
Genre: Literary Fiction
From Michael Hurley, winner of the Somerset Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.
Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher known only as “the fisherman” threatens to change everything they believe about their world–and each other.
“Hurley writes beautifully,” says Kirkus Reviews, “especially when describing island and nautical life.” Publishers Weekly praises “his well-crafted prose.”
Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.
The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press on November 25, 2014.
Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005. It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine. In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.
When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house. His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.
YouTube Video Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/iXfSuF1t9ss