CATHERINE RYAN HYDE: ASK HIM WHY IS A STORY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DON’T LISTEN TO EACH OTHER ENOUGH
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Three weeks ago, American bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde released her latest novel Ask Him Why. The book grabbed right away readers’ attention with its deep emotion.
We’ve got a great chance to speak once again with the good friend of Land of Books. In the next lines she is talking about her new book, her next project and how different is Amazon publishing from the traditional publishers.
It’s a great honor to welcome for the second time at Land of Books Catherine Ryan Hyde. If you missed our previous interview with her check it out here.
– Catherine, your latest book Ask Him Why once again is praised by the readers. The publisher Lake Union describes the novel with “stunning and emotional story of a young soldier’s unthinkable act…and the bonds of a sister and brother’s love.” How would you describe it?
– I think I’d say it’s a story about what happens when we don’t talk to each other enough. Or, more importantly, maybe when we don’t listen to each other enough. It’s about a family in which communication is nearly nonexistent, and the chilling effects of this silence on a teenage brother and sister. Their older brother, Joseph, has come back from the war in Iraq surrounded by a cloud of controversy. Everyone thinks Joseph refused to go out on duty because of cowardice, so no one asks. Until ten years later, near the end of the book. Then Ruth asks, and the answer is nothing anyone could have imagined.
– How came the inspiration of the story?
– Like most people, I’m out on the Internet, and on social media. I read the things people say in the safety of their anonymity. I watch the way we judge each other. I think I tend to be more of the “wait and see” type. I know I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong. But so many people feel quite sure that they know enough to comment. It’s a part of human nature I don’t fully understand, so I wanted to explore it in a novel.
– Was it tough to make the feelings of your three main characters Ruth, Aubrey and Joseph realistic enough?
– You know… it’s my 30th book. And that’s not counting books I wrote that ended up in a drawer. It gets easier over time.
Actually, I think the best answer is a simple “no.” It’s not hard for me to relate to the feelings of my characters well enough to portray them, because of the fact that we are all human beings and we all experience a similar range of emotions.
But as far as whether their feelings are realistic enough, that’s for each individual reader to judge. That’s really not for me to say.
– It’s your third book with Lake Union. The first one Take me With You became big hit with 5000 plus Amazon reviews with average 4.6 stars. Would you share your experience with Amazon publishing and what is the difference between them and traditional publishers?
– Actually it’s my sixth book with Lake Union. The first was When I Found You, which now has over 7000 reviews and a 4.4 star average. That has really been my most successful title to date, with over 500,000 copies sold in the US and another 100,000 for the German translation. Now it’s available in Spanish and Italian as well. Then came Walk Me Home, then Take Me with You, followed by The Language of Hoofbeats. Then in 2015 there was Worthy and Ask Him Why.
I feel very fortunate to be with Amazon publishing. They take a much more assertive role in promoting the books. They pay a higher royalty. The pay authors monthly instead of twice a year. They have a whole department dedicated to author satisfaction. They don’t overprice ebooks. I could go on and on. I have been with a lot of publishers and this is far and away my best experience.
– Your next novel Leaving Blythe River is scheduled for release on June 14. Would you unveil something about it?
– It’s about a teenage boy named Ethan whose father is lost in a fictional place called the Blythe River National Wilderness. Only, no one knows for a fact that he’s out there. There are those who think he just took off and left Ethan. So the authorities search for a time, then abandon the effort. Poor Ethan is very small for his age and deeply frightened in the wake of a traumatic experience, but he gathers together some more experienced neighbors and they go out into the wild to try to find his dad. But what really complicates the experience is that Ethan is furious with his dad. Almost to the point of hatred. But under that hate must be some love, because he goes out there to try to find him. I don’t want to give away too much more so as not to spoil it for the reader. (Catherine is giving 5 ARCs of the novel. To enter the draw visit her blog and read carefully the rules!)
– In 2015 you celebrated your 60th anniversary. Did you made a recap of your life and career and what evaluation would you give for yourself?
– I wouldn’t exactly say I evaluated myself. More like I took a good look at what I’ve always wanted to do, with a clear understanding of the fact that time is not infinite. So I got going on some big dreams. I bought a horse, and I’m learning to ride again. And this spring I’m going trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas. It was more that kind of reckoning. I’m very happy and fulfilled in my work, so it was a matter of what else I might want to do while I’m here.
– What would you wish to yourself and your readers for 2016?
– Getting back to the idea behind Ask Him Why, I would wish that we listen to each other more and judge each other less. We all have to live together, and better communication maybe can bring about a greater sense of peace. I hope so.