Interview with Tawnysha Green, Author of A House Made of Stars

Cover image for A House Made of Stars by Tawnysha Greene
A House Made of Stars by Tawnysha Greene

A mother wakes her two little girls in the middle of the night and hustles them into the bathroom where they lock the door and hide in the tub. Outside, heavy thuds reverberate. “We’re practicing for an earthquake,” she tells her daughters. And just as Californians go about their lives on unstable ground, so does the family in Tawnysha Greene’s A House Made of Stars. Greene uses spare, concise language to tell their story with devastating clarity. In spite of its oppressive atmosphere—or perhaps because of it—the novel includes moments of sublime beauty. Greene took a few moments to talk with me about her book.

The narrator of your novel is a young girl of about 10 years old. Why did you choose to tell the story through her voice instead of an adult character?

I chose to make the narrator of A House Made of Stars a young girl because in doing so, I could use a simpler, more honest mode of storytelling. There are so many issues addressed in this book—poverty, illness, abuse—and I wanted to convey these issues in the most direct way possible. Children are far more honest than many adult narrators and can be acutely aware of their surroundings, so I decided that I needed a younger protagonist if I wanted this same kind of directness in my narrative. Continue reading “Interview with Tawnysha Green, Author of A House Made of Stars”

From the Archives: In Pura’s voice

From the archives, a character study I started in 1998. Would you like to hear more of her story?


In Pura’s voice

She turned out to be just like all the other bitches. After all I did for her, she just cut me off. All those good times we had, those long drives in the country, all the times I took her out to dinner, nothing. It meant nothing to her. She just wanted to see how much she could get out of me.

I should have known better when I met her. She was alone, standing against the wall at the club when I saw her eyeballing me, dancing. I could see her eyes shining in the darkness. Demon eyes. I didn’t let on that I noticed her, just kept on dancing. But later, I eased on up next to her. She leaned down to me, like a fly to honey. I pulled her onto the floor. And she could dance. Really something for a white girl, for a pale-skin like her to dance like that. I did like her pale skin, too, all creamy, but dotted with beauty marks. That blonde hair, those blue eyes. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Continue reading “From the Archives: In Pura’s voice”

Review: In the Hope of Rising Again

Reposted from Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/141961890)

Helen Scully’s prose is lush and fluid, like the flood waters of the Mississippi. She sweeps you through three generations of the Riant family, from the golden days of the Civil War hero founder through its decline and rebirth in the midst of the Great Depression. One book jacket blurb describes this novel as “Southern Gothic,” and the prose does have a dreamy, decadent quality. At times I found the story depressing but appreciated its proto-feminist ending. One can only wonder how much was inspired by events in the lives of the author’s own family.

From page 33: “She felt a surge of power as she focused on the empty road, and its vision on this particular morning made a print in her mind. Soon she would strike out; great things awaited her, travel and love — the courageous search. Where would it take her in this life? … As she turned and stalked back through the sweet stirrings of the garden, she felt an urge to expose herself alongside the flowers, but knew she could not, not yet. Suddenly violent, she lashed with her new parasol against the elephant ears in her path. Then, sap on her shoes and in the webs of her fingers, moth wings in her hair, she returned by the same routes through the dark and chilly downstairs, sipping cold black coffee until sick and unable to sit still, waiting for the house to wake.”

From page 311: “None could guess where Imogene’s search had taken her, but by then the heat had gotten to all of their heads. No behavior seemed out of the ordinary. That was the season, hotter and hotter, the season of blueberries, plums, thunderstorms, storm drains overflowing with the smell of swamp, shutters closed against the sun.”