About the Book
On receiving the very thing she wants—a divorce and the power to sell their house—over which they have fought the past year—Anna Manning learns that Edward, her soon-to-be ex-husband is dying from cancer.
A faithful wife for three decades, and stay-at-home mother of four children, Anna endured Edward’s constant absence due to travel for his international real estate firm and numerous extra-marital affairs. With their children now adults, Edward has less than six months, possibly three, to live.
Anna takes him home to die in the house she has fought so vigorously to sell. But letting go of someone who has caused so much pain in your life doesn’t come easily. Edward has changed. There are Anna and Edward’s four children, three of whom who are married and struggling to endow their families with meaning and purpose.
News of Edward’s terminal illness provokes her to understand the present, rooted in a wellspring of the past and pouring into a future without him.
The House shows what happens when one adopts the belief that: All hold regret and are seeking forgiveness. Our salvation rests in the hands of others—most particularly the ones we love, and who have treated us wrongly.
So Anjuelle, what inspired you to base The House on a gray area of life (i.e. Anna’s dilemma)?
I wrote The House as a result of taking a writing class entitled, Story Basics. Having earned my MFA in Creative Writing I was scheduled to teach the class in a masters level writing programs. My experience as a student in the class served as training for me to teach it.
The main primer for the class, Story Basics, is Writing for Story by Jon Franklin, a Pulitzer Prize Winning Essayist. In Writing for Story, Franklin addresses the importance of career writers learning to develop an outline or blueprint for writing their fiction.
Upon graduating my MFA program I began exploring various ways and methods for planning out my stories and novels, but that also left enough undiscovered territory that I gained even more excitement to write the story. I wanted to develop or find an outline that fueled my desire to write, not take it away with planning to point of leaving no mystery.
The Franklin Outline as explained in Writing For Story did that for me. A requirement of the class is to use Franklin’s Outline or some variation thereof to plan a story or novel and then write the story or beginning of the novel, about 10,000 words.
I had intended to write a short story. Focusing on craft allowed me to enter that gray area of life that I love to explore.
What is the underlying message tucked away in The House?
The underlying theme of The House is that all of us hold regret for one action or another that we have committed. And if given the chance we would change or alter that action or make another choice. As such we are all seeking forgiveness.
All of us have injured someone. And all of us have experienced emotional hurt. And yet ultimately our salvation, our ability to transcend the wounds and turmoil of this life rest in the co-creative hands of others and ourselves in our ability to seek atonement for the wrongs we have committed, particularly to those we love and who love us, and in our ability to forgive.
The House is a work of Women’s Fiction that explores the life of Anna Manning when on receiving the divorce she has requested and the opportunity to see their home, she learns that her husband of over 3 decades is dying.
I hope that in reading The House readers will gain a glimpse of how we are all wounded and injured by life, and how each of us holds the key to another’s healing. And that by granting love, acceptance and forgiveness to those whom we love the most and who love us, we lay the ground work for our own hearts to mend.
I emphasize loving those who are closest to us, because I thoroughly believe that “charity does begin at home”.
If we cannot love those with whom we sleep, and whose faces we behold upon opening our eyes and before we leave home for the day, we have no hope of accepting and respecting others we encounter at work and beyond the scope of family.
I can only hope that readers will gain a glimpse of not so much what and who we are presently, but be provoked to inspect the integrity of the intent of our hearts and ultimately determine whether they, we, are living from that place. And if not, begin to do so.
Who is your favorite character and why?
It’s hard to say which character of The House is my favorite. I love them all so very, very much. Each one is like a piece of a mosaic, a note on a sheet of music, the line of a poem.
Of course I love Anna and feel very dear to her, but as in life, the protagonist of a novel or short story or any work of fiction is known by her or his associates.
Take away or eliminate one and you’ve lost an important chord or refrain that keeps alive the music, the creation, in your thoughts and heart.
If I had to choose one entity, it would be The House, a character I did not mention, but who plays an incredibly important role in the novel. The Manning home, the house in which so much of the drama of the novel occurs provides not only a crucible, containing the Manning Family. It is also where Edward dies. It is the house he built and the place that Anna, despite their challenges, made a home, one into which Edward sought to retreat and through her compassion and regrets, Anna made safe in which for him to die.
If only we all could make the transition from this life into the next at home.
Which character did you find it the most difficult to develop?
I encountered the greatest difficulty in writing the character, Edward Manning, when crafting The House, not so much because I disliked him, but rather because I did not completely understand him, nor did he reveal himself. In many ways, Edward, throughout the drama of The House, stands like the Buddha watching, observing, experiencing his own pain, but remaining silent as to the minutia of his aches, those he presently undergoes and past injuries that drove him to behave in an unfaithful manner towards Anna. This is a gray area, at least for me, and yet unlike with Anna’s murky spots, we never truly receive answers clarifying the waters of Edward’s emotions.
The character, Edward in The House, epitomizes that which we cannot know fully. Why death has affected him to surrender to Anna after over 3 decades of infidelity is incomprehensible on so many levels, and yet quite understandable. He is afraid, as we all are of this greatest of major transitions.
And yet we wonder why only the certain approach of death brings him to a point of surrender? He never directly addresses that.
Neither does he hint whether his terminal illness is the reason that at the opening of the novel he has granted Anna both the divorce and a deed to the house. What is even more interesting that somewhere along the way when Anna has taken him back home and he recognizes that she has not divorced him, he chooses to give the house to David. By this time he has dissolved Manning Real Estate, made Anna owner of Manning Ventures, a company formed in the face of his approaching death.
I realize now as I write that the dissolution of Manning Real Estate and creation of Manning Ventures symbolizes the death of Edward’s physical body that is to come and the diasporic transformation of what he had built that leads to a sort of immortality.
We lose ourselves, surrender the material possessions we have amassed to those we love, in hopes of gaining a place in their hearts. We gain immortality most simply by living on in the memories of others. We can but hope those memories bring a best, joy, in the least, bittersweet remembrance of what once existed if only for a moment, a shining flame of hope of what could have been.
What did you love most about writing The House?
Writing The House taught me how to plan a novel, and how to write plot. This happened as a result of discovering and using the Franklin Outline as detailed by Jon Franklin in his book, Writing for Story. Writers are always writing for story
Having written 10,000 words by the end of the first of 15 weeks evidenced the outline worked for me.
As a psychotherapist creating characters has always been easy. Developing a way to keep the story moving and not bogged down in dispensing information about a protagonist’s personality has presented my greatest challenge.
Plotting and structuring stories present challenges and growth points for me, most specifically deciding where and when to dispense what knowledge, as deemed and demanded by the action, interaction and conflict between characters.
The Franklin Outline cleared the path for me to write by giving me a road map, while leaving the territory untouched.
What are you future plans? Are you working on another novel?
I definitely plan to keep writing Inshallah. I am presently working through revising the heart of the middle of a novel I wrote in 2001. The novel is entitled Seasons. And this eighth time revising it.
I have also begun writing my novel, yet untitled, for this year, 2010. I will be writing the rough draft simultaneous to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that takes place each November.
I strive to write the rough draft of a novel each year. I do this during the fall. On completion of that first draft, I lay the novel aside and begin revising the novel I wrote the previous year, or as in this case the one I wrote in 2001.
Seasons chronicles for one year the plight of a woman who has lost her sight and how her efforts to help a man dying of AIDS assist her in adjusting to her blindness and gaining new perspective and insight on her husband and herself.
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About the Author
ANJUELLE FLOYD is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work. A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops.
A student of Process Painting for the last decade, ANJUELLE has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California. ANJUELLE facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects. She also gives talks on The Need for Family, the Writing Process as a Path Toward Self-discovery and Healing.
A wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, ANJUELLE lives in Oakland, California.
Anjuelle Floyd talks about what she hopes readers will take away from reading, The House.
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To celebrate the release of her novel, The House, author Anjuelle Floyd is offering a (1) Kindle Wi-Fi (retail value: $139.00) as a part of her promotional blog tour. A WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1, 2010.
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