by Suzanne Trauth
GENRE: Contemporary General Fiction
At the reading of her beloved father’s will, Kate, a divorced French professor, learns of his affaire de coeur during World War II with a French artist named Emilie, to whom he has left a substantial bequest. Kate, stunned to discover the existence of this woman who captivated her father, is determined to unravel the mystery of his past and unearth the truth. Though Emilie has passed away now, her daughter Yvette sends a box of her mother’s keepsakes from the war that are even more unnerving – among them a dried flower, a photograph, two smooth stones, and a train ticket. Kate wonders about her parents’ marriage. After the war had he abandoned passion for honor? Did he really love her mother, or was he compelled to marry her out of his sense of duty? How well did she really know her father? Or her mother? She embarks on a journey to the south of France to reconcile the past and confront her own demons, as well as the legacy of her father’s wartime love affair and the price he paid to live an honorable life. Kate’s life is changed forever…
“I’d still like to know what there was between them.” I swaddle a picture in bubble wrap and secure it with a length of packing tape.
“I’d say that was pretty obvious.” DJ could be snarky where Dad was concerned.
“What if it was more than a fling?” I say.
He sits down on the easy chair and fixes his gaze on me. “So, you think he never got over her?”
“I’m not saying that. I’d just like to know more.” The gift to Emilie Renault hints at a passion that disturbs me. A side of him I never saw. Dad was generous and thoughtful. But passionate? He and Mother had a caring but polite relationship. I don’t ever remember them sneaking a kiss or hugging with enthusiasm when they were younger. And since she died over twenty years ago, there hasn’t been another woman in his life. That I’m aware of. It seemed to me to be a well-bred, civil marriage, a peck on his cheek, an arm under her elbow.
DJ gathers up the putter and irons and jams them into the golf bag.
I have to say it aloud. “Maybe they were in love.” My statement hangs in the air.
DJ releases a deep sigh. His voice is firm but low. “Kate, you dumped on Mom while she was living and now you’re doing it again on her memory.” DJ slings the bag over his shoulder and bangs the door as he leaves the carriage house.
What Remains of Love
By Suzanne Trauth
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, with my six sisters. After college and grad school, I spent a few years teaching college in western Kansas where I became intimately familiar with tornadoes and wheat fields and discovered that Kansans do not react positively when asked about Dorothy, Toto, or her red slippers. Following that stint I ended up living in New York City for a few years: I went from one extreme to the other, rural to urban, before finally settling in northern New Jersey. Fifteen minutes from the Lincoln Tunnel.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
It all began with a meeting in the south of France in 1997. For my mother’s 80th birthday, I joined family members for a tour of cities where French artists, such as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Cezanne, had lived and worked. On our way to Marseille one night, we stopped in a small village to visit an artist whom my aunt had been corresponding with for over fifty years. When we arrived in the village, the artist proceeded to tell us a bit about her life and experiences during WWII while living in Nice, France. It was a fascinating tale and that night I asked if I could tell her story. It inspired What Remains of Love.
How do you create your characters?
My novel is told in two time periods with two narrators. The characters in France in 1944 were inspired by the artist and her story and experiences, though because it is a work of fiction, I had to take liberties based on my research into the war and the period as I created French citizens, Nazi collaborators, and resistance workers. The characters in the present—the narrator, her parents, siblings, and colleagues—live in New Jersey, near where I live, and their story felt close to home. I had no trouble imagining these folks in the present affected by a war and events decades earlier.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I am inspired by people and events that trigger my imagination and allow me to ask “what if?” What if this happened? Or what if that person did this or that? What would be the consequences? Always it helps if the answers to the questions have high stakes and raise the possibility of a dramatic outcome.
I started writing in grade school, short stories and plays. Winning a couple of writing competitions in high school encouraged me to keep at it and I wrote sporadically for many years. Then about twenty-five years ago, I started writing seriously—screenplays, plays and novels. Most recently, I finished a mystery series (Dodie O’Dell mysteries) and I am still writing plays.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I write in a home office where I can remove myself from distractions. Usually. Though in the past I have written while traveling—in airports, hotel rooms, and while visiting family. I always have a drink, either water or a mug of tea, depending on the time of day, beside me while I create. I need silence, so no music. And I try to avoid checking email and social media!
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Ideas are like air, I think. Sometimes they float into one’s life as easily as breathing. Often a notion will occur to me while I am taking a walk, cleaning the house, listening to a podcast, maybe watching a television program. I find that I have to be open, and listening, to receiving these “messages.” For What Remains of Love, as I described above, the story fell into my lap. My mystery series had been a long time percolating and finally came together. One time I got a crucial idea for a play I was working on thirty-five thousand feet in the air. On a plane trip!
What do you like to read?
I read a wide variety of books. Mostly fiction. Mysteries and thrillers because I write in that genre, but also contemporary and historical fiction.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Some of the best advice I’ve received, and that I often pass on, is the following: write what you love (and maybe what you love to read) and writers write—they don’t only talk about or dream about writing. They place themselves before the computer screen or blank page and string words together in sentences. I also like to remind aspiring authors that this is a business that requires persistence and patience. I’m a prime example: my current novel took twenty-five years to be released. Never give up!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk about What Remains of Love and to share a little bit about my writing process. Thank you!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Suzanne Trauth is the author of What Remains of Love and the Dodie O’Dell mystery series—Show Time, Time Out, Running out of Time, Just in Time, No More Time, and Killing Time. She co-authored Sonia Moore and American Acting Training and co-edited Katrina on Stage: Five Plays. In her previous career, she spent many years as a university professor of theatre. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey. Visit her website: www.suzannetrauth.com or connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneTrauth
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION :
Suzanne Trauth will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.