Susan's Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Put “Dirt” On Your E-Reader

Today was my birthday.

It was also my novel’s birthday! Dirt: A Story About Gardening, Mothering, and Other Messy Business, was published today, on e-book.

Click here for the Amazon link.


Click here for the B&N link.

•••Even if you don’t have an e-reader, Kindle has a free app for your pc on the Amazon site.

•••And for your mac!

Book Jacket description:

Emmy is a typical suburban mother—at least on the outside. On the inside she’s a mess. She’s trying to raise her three sons alone, and that is proving to be a discouraging struggle. Her oldest, Nick, is profoundly autistic and increasingly frustrated with the world around him. Henry, her normally dependable middle child seems to be drifting away from her into morose adolescence. And then there’s Dan, her eight-year-old who seems perpetually angry at everyone in his family.

Emmy’s estranged husband Eric is no help at all, just a weekend dad who pops in when he’s not wanted and takes the boys out for fast food or visits to the Science Museum.  Emmy’s haven from it all is her garden, and her dream is to start a landscape design business. But lack of time and energy keep her stuck selling real estate; it is all Emmy can do just to keep her life under control.

When a flirtation, a brush with the law and a near tragedy occur within a few weeks of each other, Emmy is certain that she has failed adulthood completely. Dirt presents a portrait of complicated relationships and the ways that people find refuge—and each other.

Susan Senator is the author of two acclaimed books on autism and family life. Dirt is her first work of fiction.


A Word To My Readers:

In writing this novel, I aimed to create a family of five equally important characters. I drew upon the voices of my three sons, Nat, Max, and Ben to get at the personalities of the brothers Nick, Henry, and Dan. Emmy and Eric, the parents and the other two main characters are drawn from bits and parts of people I know and people I imagine. What happens with them is fiction, although some of the conversations between Emmy and her sons are close to reality.

I was especially challenged by creating Nick, Emmy’s oldest son who has severe autism and is barely verbal. Nick is based on my Nat but is not Nat any more than Emmy is me. The great thing about fiction is that it allows one to bend reality and truth to suit an author’s vision. And so I envisioned Nick as almost a counterpart to Christopher, the protagonist in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but representing the other end of the Autism Spectrum. I wanted Nick to be just as whole a person as Christopher, equally complex and likable, and to come alive as a real person with thoughts and emotions—a whole inner life. I don’t believe there are many novels out there with a main character from the extreme end of the Spectrum. And if a severe autistic is included at all in a story, he is usually portrayed as a savant, mystery detective  or oracle of some sort. Nick, on the other hand, is just a teen with severe autism, lovely, flawed, and human.

But the story is not just Nick. This is not an Autism Novel, although autism provides much of the salt in its flavoring. The intersection of the five people is the story, along with a few outside catalysts: Dan and Henry dealing in their own ways about their father moving out; Emmy feeling stagnated by her job and life; Eric not knowing how to connect with his family anymore. I wanted this story to convey truth, a real glimpse of a family struggling not only with autism, but also divorce, sibling rivalry, loneliness, and dissatisfaction with life.

Just as in my two other books, you won’t find a cure for autism here or miraculous transformation of a character’s flaws. But you will find honest growth and the bumpy but wonderful reality of family love.

So click, buy, download, enjoy Dirt — and then review it!  On Amazon, B&N, your blog, twitter, wherever you feel like! Thank you!


Happy Belated Birthday Susan!

— added by Suzette on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm

CONGRATULATIONS on your new book! will definitely read you are a great writer. Diana

— added by Diana on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm

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