THE BOOK: Stony River.
PUBLISHED IN: 2012 in Canada, 2016 in the U.S.
THE AUTHOR: Tricia Dower.
THE EDITOR: Adrienne Kerr (Penguin) and Lisa Graziano (Leapfrog).
THE PUBLISHER: Penguin Canada and Leapfrog Press.
SUMMARY: It wasn’t all poodle skirts and rock n’ roll. Set in a time we often romanticize, Stony River shows in unexpected ways how perilous it was to come of age in the 1950s. Absent mothers, controlling fathers, biblical injunctions, teenage longing and small-town pretense abound. The threat of violence is all around: angry fathers at home, dirty boys in the neighborhood, strange men in strange cars, one dead girl, one hidden and another gone missing. From its deceptively innocent beginning — two young teens exploring the riverbank and spying on “Crazy Haggerty’s” dilapidated house — through paganism, murder and sexual violence, Stony River shows us small-town dysfunction and the dangers of ignoring threats to women. The central mystery was inspired by the crimes of Robert Zarinsky as documented by Robin Gaby fisher and Judith Lucas in “Deadly Secrets.”
THE BACK STORY: I grew up in a town much like Stony River in an age when secrets crouched behind closed doors and it wasn’t “polite” to interfere in another family’s business. Children were left to decipher the meaning of adult whisperings and come to frightening conclusions. My recollections of that repressive time informed this novel, as did the murder of a police officer when I was in high school and the subsequent crimes of his killer while I was elsewhere. The Newark Star-Ledger account of these crimes proeplled me back to the area and inspired pivotal events and critical details in Stony River. My goal was to producer a “ripping good yarn.” But the urge to challenge religious dogma as well as assumptions about right and wrong, sanity and madness, love and abuse crept into the exercise. Nothing was as it seemed back then. Realizing that has been liberating.
WHY THIS TITLE?: Stony River is a fictitious town in New Jersey where the novel takes place. It’s meant to represent many small towns in the 1950s.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? To get lost in the lives of its characters, challenge a few assumptions and, perhaps, unravel a mystery. Plus, there’s a handy Reader’s Guide!
“Stony River is a powerful coming-of-age novel, which meticulously evokes time and place and tackles moral dilemmas, religious dogma, spirituality, sexuality, depression, incest and abuse. Dower is a masterful storyteller.” — The Toronto Globe & Mail.
“Think ‘Mad Men,’ but even madder.” — The Toronto Star.
“‘What did the devil look like?’ asks Tereza, a teenaged girl who ‘seemed to accept the cost of doing what she pleased.’ In response, Tereza’s beau says ‘Me, of course. That’s what he does.’ But the devil is not just in any particular man in Stony River, the evil is woven into the fabric of its paternalistic society, and Dower’s understanding and ability to subtly manifest that bane is pure brilliance.” — The Saint John Telegraph-Journal.
AUTHOR PROFILE: My heart has a home (and citizenship) in two countries. Born in Rahway, New Jersey, I’ve lived in Canada since 1981. A graduate of Gettysburg College, I’ve taught school and worked in marketing, advertising, human resources and corporate communications in Georgia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Illinois and Ontario. These days I have the luxury of writing in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, a beautiful part of the world. I’ve amused myself over the years by tap dancing, painting rocks, playing piano and pretending to play golf. At the moment I’m an on-line news junkie and occasional tandem biker (with husband Colin at the controls). Mike and Katie call me Mom, Ashley and CC call me Grandma. I started writing fiction in 2002 after taking early retirement from the corporate life. Since then my fiction has appeared in journals and magazines in Canada, the United States and Portugal. The story collection Silent Girl was my first book. Stony River and Becoming Lin are the first two novels in a trilogy (I’m hard at work on the third book now).
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Stony River expands on “Not Meant to Know,” the first in the 2008 story collection, Silent Girl, inspired by eight of Shakespeare’s female characters. When I began ‘Not Meant to Know,’ I intended to create a contemporary counterpart to The Tempest’s Miranda, who has been exiled on an island since she was three with only her sorcerer father and some magical creatures for company. I found her story too ambitious for the short form, but I wanted to tell it. I was also curious about what happened to Tereza after she ran away and Linda beyond the year covered by “Not Meant to Know.” So I imagined the three girls’ lives before and after the day Linda and Tereza witnessed ‘my’ Miranda being taken from her house by police officers and a novel was born!
LOCAL OUTLETS: Any bookstore can order it through Consortium Books Sales & distribution, using ISBN 978-1-935248-86-6.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.
PRICE: $15.95. (US edition).
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can find me on Facebook and at http://www.triciadower.com.