Title: Take Me with You
Synopsis: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go.
What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together.
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
CH: Catherine Ryan Hyde has graced me with the pleasure of a Celebrity Author Interview. You may know her as the Pay-It-Forward author. Welcome, Catherine Ryan Hyde.
CRH: Thank you, Cheryl.
CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?
CRH: Sometimes the people who become most important in our lives are no blood relation to us—they are a surprise.
CH: This book has an unusual theme. Why did you decide to write this book?
CRH: I don’t know if it’s unusual. It has similarities to everything I write, in that it’s about relationships, love—but not the romantic kind. The kind that transcends differences and ages. I guess it’s unusual for a guy to take two of somebody else’s kids on a summer-long road trip with him. I hope that was a twist that my other novels don’t have.
I have my own little RV, and I’ve been to all of the places I write about in the book. I guess it was just a matter of time until an RV trip came up in my work.
CH: What do you want readers to take from this novel?
CRH: That we can be there for each other. That we can matter to each other. That we can help and save each other, just because we’re all human and we’re all in this together, not because of some logical indication that we “should.” And that we won’t go far wrong following our hearts.
CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing?
CRH: I guess it depends on what you call exciting. I don’t write thrillers or intrigue or potboilers or page-turners. I don’t write heavily plotted novels. Some people think my books are too “deliberately paced.” They are about what it means to be human. Not that we don’t all know that. But I think, fiction can shed light on the human condition in a very beneficial way. It can make us feel more human, but in a good sense. It can make us feel more connected, more hopeful, and less alone. If that’s the kind of feeling you’re seeking in a book, then you might find my work exciting and different.
CH: How long does it take you to write one of your books?
CRH: I write very fast. I always have. I suppose, I always will. I’m not hurrying, or suggesting anyone else write at my speed. It’s just the way I work. On average, it’s about 4-7 months from the time I start a novel until the time I’m ready to show it to my agent or editor.
CH: You had 122 rejections before getting published. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
CRH: Yes. Expect rejection. Accept it as part of the experience of being a writer. Know that all writers go through it. Make up your mind going in that you won’t let it stop you. I can’t tell you not to let it hurt you, because you’re human, so it will hurt. Feel however you need to about it, just don’t let it stop you.
CH: Years ago, you said that you were an under published author. Now, that you have 25 books written and forthcoming, do you think you have accomplished your writing goals?
CRH: I feel I’ve exceeded them many times over. Because my goals weren’t all that lofty. I wrote “small” literary books, or so everybody told me. And we all know, they don’t make it big. (Actually, no one really knows what will happen in this business, but, anyway, that’s what they tell us.) So, I just wanted to make enough money with my writing that I could keep writing. Just enough that I wouldn’t have to get a full-time day job. And I had this dream that maybe just enough people would read my work that once, on a plane or at a cocktail party, I’d be talking to someone and find out they’d actually read me. The rest of this was unexpected, to say the least.
CH: What is your current opinion on celebrity books v. good books?
CRH: I don’t know that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. But they tend not to overlap much, I guess. I think the book business has become more and more like the movie business, in that it wants “guaranteed” successes only. I’m talking about traditional New York publishing, of course. So, I think for years what they’re willing to publish has been contracting as publishers tell people, often incorrectly, what they should want to read. But this never entirely works. First, there was the small press rebellion, now there is an absolute revolution in self-publishing. So, what I think about good books is that you can’t keep them down. They will get out there, these days more readily than ever. And like cream, they will rise to the top.
One of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s other passions is photography. Here is a one of her stunning photos of Saddlebag Lake.
CH: Your mother was a writer and your two siblings are writers. Did this have any influence on you also becoming a writer?
CRH: I think my mother did. When I was in the first or second grade, she came to my school for one of those “career day show and tell” things. She brought her published books and talked to my class. And later, I was able to see that the other kids were very impressed. To be a writer, they felt, made you a big deal. Not that my goal at this point is to impress anyone. But I think, a thing like that gets under your skin and shapes your world view.
Of course, there’s the old “nature vs. nurture” debate. Could be I was simply born with the right kind of brain for this work. God knows I’ve yet to figure out what else it’s good for.
CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?
CRH: Well, I’ve never done any kind of collaborative fiction, but as this is hypothetical… Kurt Vonnegut springs to mind. I grew up on his work, and I think he had a fascinating mind. He was someone who struck me as fiercely intelligent; yet, full of heart. I just would have enjoyed knowing more about what made him tick.
CH: What book are you currently reading?
CRH: I’m reading my friend Holly Schindler’s middle-grade novel, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky.
CH: The Pay-It-Forward (PIF) book was a national best seller in 2000 and it was adapted into a movie. When you wrote the book, did you ever think it would change the world?
CRH: Oh, goodness no. I didn’t even imagine it would get published. I was barely breaking into publishing at the time. Just the idea of ever seeing it in a bookstore was mental hurdle enough.
CH: The PIF experience is the power of giving. What keeps PIF going all of these years?
CRH: That’s one of those answers in which I honestly think your theory is as good as mine. The book and movie publicity is clearly no longer driving it, so the only explanation is that it somehow planted its own roots. But the “why” of it is a big one. There are more and more scientific studies being published that seem to corroborate my idea that receiving an act of kindness predisposes us to giving acts of kindness. So, maybe we really are kind at heart. You know, underneath our fears and defenses. Underneath all the armor we put on to live safely in this world. Maybe, the news really is good.
CH: I Pay-It-Forward on my blog to any author and it does make a difference from debut authors to celebrity authors. Is this what you had in mind when you said, “Why don’t we as humans just be kinder”?
CRH: I can’t honestly say what I had in mind with that, because it was something of a rhetorical question. It wasn’t a suggestion of how we should behave, because I never dreamed the world was open to taking any suggestions from me. It was said, I believe, in the context of the question that drove me to write the book. Which was: If we all say we want to live in a kinder world, and it’s easy enough to be kinder, then why don’t we just do it? Why doesn’t somebody just… start?
But the stories I see playing out in real life, yes. They’re the kind of thing I had in mind when I wrote the book. But that was fiction. I never really imagined it wouldn’t stay on the page.
CH: Take Me with You was just released earlier this week. You can find her book anywhere fine books are sold and online. Her website is www.Catherineryanhyde.com. Thank you so much, Catherine for joining us today!
Note: Photos are compliments of Catherine Ryan Hyde and the Internet.
CH: Share it, if you like it. I’m counting on you!