In Emily Colin’s exquisite debut novel THE MEMORY THIEF (Ballantine Trade Paperback Original) one man’s vow to his wife sparks a remarkable journey that tests the pull of memory and reaffirms the bonds of love.
Deftly weaving together two strands of plot, THE MEMORY THIEF spins an unforgettable tale of love lost and found. Though she has lived with her husband Aidan’s adventure-seeking tendencies for the entirety of their relationship, Maddie has particularly strong reservations when Aidan tells her of his plans to summit Alaska’s Mount McKinley. When she eventually gives in to him, Aidan promises her, “I will come back to you.” Yet, late one night, she receives shocking news: Aidan has died in an avalanche. Confronted with grief, newfound single parenthood, and the realization that J.C., Aidan’s climbing partner and best friend, has been in love with her for years, Maddie must swim through her swirling emotions in a quest for understanding.
Across the country, Nicholas Sullivan awakes from a motorcycle accident. Unable to remember any part of his life to this point, he finds that his dreams are haunted by images of a beautiful woman and a young boy. Feeling as though these mysterious people may hold the answers to his own problems, Nicholas is driven to find them. Nicholas’s journey leads him to great discoveries—which not only change his life, but Maddie’s, too.
Poignant, yet ultimately triumphant, THE MEMORY THIEF is a unique and compelling love story that marks Emily Colin as a young author to watch.
I am delighted to introduce Emily Colin, my guest blogger for today:
“When people hear about my debut novel, The Memory Thief, one of the first questions they usually ask me is, “So, are you a climber?” I’ll admit, this makes me giggle. For one thing, I am most assuredly acrophobic, the kind of person who white-knuckles the steering wheel and says a prayer to St. Michael—the patron saint of high places—whenever the vicissitudes of life require me to drive across a bridge. (Coming from a nice Jewish girl, this ought to tell you something.) For another, my poor athleticism is rivaled only by my extraordinary lack of grace.
Still, given the circumstances, their question isn’t all that unreasonable. After all, two of the characters in my book are high-altitude mountaineers. And as Madeleine, The Memory Thief’s female protagonist, says upon meeting the man who will later become her husband:
I considered it an act of supreme balance if I walked the morning’s first cup of coffee across the room without spilling it, and here he was, feeling embarrassed because he hadn’t made it to the top of the tallest mountain in the world. If there was ever a sign that two people were mismatched, this was it.
Truly, I felt the same way when it came to writing about climbing. Which begs the question—why?
Needless to say, I did a lot of research in the process of writing The Memory Thief—which blends high-altitude mountaineering, a love story, a ghost story and a mystery. And what I came to, ultimately, is this: I will never be a mountaineer (as anyone who’s known me for more than ten minutes will doubtless attest). But for the year-and-a-half that I worked on this book, I got to try on another identity, to slip into its skin and see what life looked like from the dark side of the mountain. This changed the way I saw the world, the ideas to which I was drawn and the issues that caught my interest. It changed me.
I think at its most basic level, that’s what writing fiction does—it allows you to become someone else for a little while, to see what might have been if your life had led you down a different path. And when you find your way back into the real world, you take this knowledge with you; you carry all the alter egos of the people you might have been.
When I wrote this book, I wasn’t living in that real world, not really. Most of the time I wandered around in a haze, even clumsier than usual, bumping into everything because all I could see was my imaginary landscape, the one where my characters lived. I wrote and wrote and revised. And then I revised some more.
In the end, I picked my head up and realized that I’d still never climbed a mountain—but with all the risks I’d taken; the unshakeable belief that writing a novel was something I could do; my focus on a single, far-reaching, attainable goal—well, I sure felt as if I had.
And that, as they say, has made all the difference.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
EMILY COLIN is the Associate Director of the DREAMS Center For Arts Education, a nationally award-winning nonprofit dedicated to building creative, committed citizens through high-quality arts programming. Prior to DREAMS, she served as Editor-in-Chief of Coastal Carolina Press, and co-founder of Carolina Women’s Partnership. She also works closely with the North Carolina Arts Council. In Though Colin is not a mountain climber—she’s actually afraid of heights—she spent innumerable hours doing research for THE MEMORY THIEF: shadowing Outward Bound instructors as they scaled cliffs in Colorado’s Rifle Canyon, conducting reconnaissance missions in an indoor rock-climbing gym closer to home, and speaking with alpinists who took on Alaska’s Mt. McKinley—and lost. For more information, please visit the author’s website at www.emilycolin.com.
To win your own copy of THE MEMORY THIEF by Emily Colin, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “MEMORY THIEF” as the subject. Make sure to include your name and mailing address in the US only. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age. One entry per email address, please. Your email will not be shared or sold to anyone.
All entries, including names, email addresses and mailing addresses, will be purged after winner is notified. This contest ends September 30, 2012. Good luck!