Author Karen Guzman has just the type of mouth-watering new book that provides a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that: Love, betrayal, hope. Arborview came out this week and I’m pleased to share a bit about both the book and the author.
Describe one of your favorite characters and tell us who you patterned them after and why.
The Reverend Dillane. He’s the hospice chaplain who befriends and encourages Rosa. He is such a thoroughly decent man, kind and supportive, but sharp and insightful, too. He’s based partly on the former pastor of a church I used to attend. The rest comes from my imagination.
How often do you write?
When I’m really working on a project, I write and/or edit four or five days a week. I’d love to do six days, but life gets in the way.
A fun fact about writing your book.
I learned so much about pastry and baking while writing this book. With two pastry chef protagonists, how could I not? I’m now taking some baking classes and just loving it.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I love horseback riding, always have. I also like hiking in the woods, cooking, and hanging out on the patio with a glass of wine in the evening.
Any tips for aspiring authors?
It’s so important to be able to share your works-in-progress with readers you trust and who “get” your work. Find one or two people and build a relationship. You’ll grow together and challenge each other. But most of all, you’ll have each other’s backs in a business that can often be unkind. I’ve been blessed to share manuscripts for years with a dear friend from my MFA program. It’s made all the difference.
Here’s the blurb for Arborview:
Ellen Cahill’s financial future rides on the success of her new pastry shop. A bruising divorce has drained her bank account, along with her spirit. A man enters her life promising love, but Ellen, haunted by the past, questions whether she can pull off this new beginning.
College student Rosa Escamilla has her own culinary dreams—and a difficult mother who’s dead set against them. Rosa won’t be deterred. She scrapes up the money to enroll at a prestigious culinary school, setting out to prove everyone wrong.
When hidden betrayals by the people they love most surface for both Ellen and Rosa, can they overcome the blows they never saw coming on the road to where they want to go?
And an excerpt:
The light was dying in Arborview. Ellen had to get going, but she wasn’t ready. Descending the ladder meant reentering her life. The time she spent here, suspended among the branches, did not banish the uncertainty that crept back when her feet hit the ground, but it did give her reprieve.
The stillness, the silence, slowed her mind. Be still and know that I am God. She used to love that old Psalm. This must have been what it meant. Her thoughts unraveled in Arborview, exposed in a cool, piercing light, a calm glow giving her hope.
It had been a week since she’d heard from Alice, and the memory of her guilty laundry-room face lingered. Perhaps Ellen had been too harsh, too judgmental. That was a big thing today, wasn’t it? Judging. Nothing was supposed to be off limits, nothing truly wrong, or shameful. Ellen had broken down and left a voicemail, but Alice had not returned the call.
The warm impression William had left in her bed, the faint whiff of his cologne on the pillows, had stayed with Ellen, too. He was coming to take her to dinner in an hour.
William had struck a chord with his pastry shop idea. It had taken root and grown all week within Ellen, its tendrils reaching into her heart. She could see it: a little storefront place, a jingling bell on the door, cakes and pies in the window, a soft wash of light on the gleaming display cases inside.
About Karen Guzman:
Karen Guzman is a fiction writer and essayist. Her debut novel, Homing Instincts,was published by Fiction Attic Press in 2014. Karen’s short fiction has appeared in a number of literary magazines, and her story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award. Karen is a regular contributor to the Collegeville Institute’s Bearings Online magazine. She is the recipient of a 2021 writing fellowship at the Collegeville Institute.
Karen has worked as a journalist at the Hartford Courant in Hartford, Connecticut, and at the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is presently a writer at the Yale School of Management.