From the New York Times bestselling author of behind The Art of Arranging Flowers comes a new novel about the search for what really matters in life…
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
It all starts when Alissa Wells impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart’s remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life.
Traveling Light is the story of one woman’s willingness to leave behind the handed down script she was given in life and venture down a new path. It is a story of unexpected friendship and the surprise of love, a story of family, and the courage it takes to create one’s own life.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
The only thing I remember about Mama was how she was always moving. Years before the small tumor grew, the mania finally linked to the cancer in her brain, Mama never stopped moving. I think it wore Daddy out but I loved it. I loved her.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- This is based on a true story of someone finding a box of ashes in a storage building and trying to find the family to return them.
- There is really a wolf sanctuary near Grants, NM.
- There is an entire vocabulary for journalists that I knew nothing about until writing this book.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Alissa Wells is the main character, the one who has always done the right thing. She is a journalist, a smart editor, a loner. It surprises me at how sheltered she really is.
Blossom is her traveling companion, a seventeen year old who has a great zest for life.
Roger is the dead man, the one whose ashes Alissa is choosing to return to NM. He was also a loner, maybe reminds Alissa a bit of herself.
Dillon is Blossom’s ex-boyfriend who joins them on their journey.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I want them to consider their own life “scripts” and think about what it might be like to let go of it and do what they really always wanted to do.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
I am working on two new novels, both of them about women making important changes in their lives.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Print copy of TRAVELING LIGHT by Lynne Branard
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Excerpt from Traveling Light:
The only thing I remember about Mama was how she was always moving. Years before the small tumor grew, the mania finally linked to the cancer in her brain, Mama never stopped moving. I think it wore Daddy out but I loved it. I loved her. The way she danced while she cooked our breakfast, pancakes delivered to the table like a rock star at the final note of the Rolling Stones’ Beast of Burden, the way she lifted my sister from the crib, twirling her the whole time with me straddling her foot, clinging to her leg. She would sweep and sing, stopping just long enough to clutch the broom like a diva with her microphone. She’d change the furniture in the living room giving us new hiding places for another round of hide and seek, and she would strap both her daughters in the back seat of that old station wagon and drive to the ocean or south to White Lake or even all the way to Asheville and the cold, foggy Blue Ridge Mountains and its twisting curvy roads. She could not stay still.
Of course, I never knew she was sick or exhausted. I never knew the dancing and the spinning and the driving and the darting from one place to another was a symptom of illness. I thought she was immortal. I thought I was the luckiest child alive to have a mother always buying new paint sets and giving us long rolls of white paper to decorate, a mother who seemed to know the most beautiful spots for girls-only picnics, a mother who was able to balance on her toes while she hung the sheets on the line in the back yard, calling us to come and smell the sunshine caught in the wide stretch of fabric. I thought the movement and the action were simply a part of the great adventure of life, of childhood; and I woke up every morning wondering what she had planned for that day and how she would dance my sister and me through every minute of it.
And then, one day in the spring of my fifth year she simply stopped moving. She stopped dancing and spinning and changing the pictures on the wall and cleaning the house from ceiling to floor, finding coins and sliding them in our palms telling us they were gifts from angels; and suddenly everything I knew about being a child, every step, every movement, every lift and twirl came to an abrupt and unexpected halt. Everything just stopped. The music, the dancing, the laughter, the games, the unlimited extravaganza of our imaginations, all of it seemed to freeze in time, all of us standing in the wake of her death, paralyzed by our loss.
And now, upon reflection thirty years after she died, I realize I haven’t moved an inch. At the age of five I sat down in my life; I took my place in raising my sister and caring for my father and keeping the house neat and clean with only scant movements and no flair and I never stepped away. Until now. Until I pulled open the big overhead door on that storage unit in Wilmington and pilfered through the cartons of driftwood and bins of tools and the baskets of rope and the stacks of boating magazines, blankets, and camping equipment, all the way to the back, and found the box. The box I see now placed in the passenger’s seat of Faramond, my old Volkswagen bug that Daddy bought for me at my high school graduation, giving me the permission to leave which I did not take. The box of ashes with a business card and a receipt from the Serenity Mortuary in Grants, New Mexico taped on top. This box of ashes that is now sending me away from my home. This box of ashes that is finally making me move.
From TRAVELING LIGHT by Lynne Branard. Reprinted by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Lynne Branard.
Driving from North Carolina to New Mexico with her three-legged dog, a strange man’s ashes, and a waitress named Blossom riding shotgun isn’t exactly what Alissa Wells ever wanted to be doing. But it’s exactly what she needs…
It all starts when Alissa impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart’s remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life.
She isn’t wrong.
Especially when Blossom, who just graduated from high school, hitches a ride with her to Texas, and Alissa has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Alissa’s eyes to the road in front of her—and to how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming…
Meet the Author:
Lynne Branard is a pseudonym for New York Times bestselling author Lynne Hinton. She has written more than a dozen books, including Friendship Cake, Pie Town, and Welcome Back to Pie Town.
Cassandra Campbell has recorded over one hundred audiobooks and directed many more. She has received eight AudioFile Earphones Awards, as well as being nominated for an Audie Award. As an actress and director, she has worked off Broadway and in regional theaters across the country, as well as doing voice work on numerous commercials and films.