Guest: Theresa Weir

We Riders are pleased to have Theresa Weir back in the convertible with us today!  When we first drove onto the cyber-highway so many years ago, Theresa used to be a regular under her Anne Frasier pseudonym, so it’s a real treat to have her back for a visit.

I ordered her latest release, a memoir, THE ORCHARD, and read it within a few days.  It was an amazing read that sort of crept under my skin and made me question a lot of things, both good and otherwise.  I highly recommend it!  {Book blurb at bottom of post.}  The reviews have been amazing, she’s been a featured book in the Oprah magazine, and—who knows, maybe we’ll see it in movie form someday (sending out good vibes that it happens!).  Theresa offered to answer a few questions (oh woe, on trying to come up with a few good questions, but I tried my best).  So here we go!

This is a personal story. Are your expectations from readers who have followed your fiction career different with a memoir?  Is it scary to put yourself out there?

TW:  Yes. Yes. Yes.  I don’t know if scary is the word, but it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. I’m a private person, and I don’t like to talk about myself. But I’d had this unique experience. This weird and awful and wonderful life. Along with that, I had years of writing under my belt. As a writer, I felt a certain obligation to chronicle this bit of seventies and eighties farm culture as seen through the eyes of my twenty-something self.

Your writing career is barely mentioned, though it began during the course of this story.  Was that done on purpose to keep the focus on other things?  Or?

TW:  Downplaying my writing was done on purpose because I didn’t want the focus to be about me, or my writing.  In an early draft, I said nothing at all about my writing. I sent the manuscript to Mary Logue, a wonderful writer and freelance editor, and she said, “Where’s your writing in this?” It just didn’t seem important to me, but once she brought up the absence, I realized she was 100% right.

What was it like to go through the events of the past and putting them to paper?  I’m sure you ran the gamut of emotions!

TW: It was kind of horrible. I hadn’t thought about how hard it would be to immerse myself in a past I’d tried hard to forget.  It really made me question my sanity. Really!

I know you’ve said this was a funny little story that needed to be told, but readers are taking away a lot from it.  It really makes the reader think, about relationships, the food and farming industry, the things we do to survive.  Are you surprised at the reactions to your story?

TW: By funny I’m guessing I meant strange or odd, not haha funny.  😉 And yes, I’m flabbergasted by the response.  Flabbergasted.  I have to be honest—I don’t understand it.  I wrote about things that are common knowledge. I wrote about an issue that’s been around since the fifties and sixties, but I think the raw and personal story may have touched people.  It’s the old show-don’t-tell rule. You can tell people that their apples are covered in pesticides, but it’s just a lot of noise, just more of the same bad news we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. But I’m showing them the story from the inside, up close and personal.

Is there anything you didn’t tell in the story that you wanted to? (You don’t have to expose details here.  Unless…)

TW:  This isn’t quite what you were talking about, but one thing I wasn’t able to portray was the humor of everyday living in a dark situation. I tried, but I had to give up. I just wasn’t able to pull it off, so I eliminated my attempts at humor.  It’s not so much that I wish I could have included humor, but I’d like people to know that within this sad world we were always laughing. About everything. About the situation, about life in general. About day-to-day events.  It wasn’t sad to be inside it. The sadness comes in looking back.

 Do you think the past shapes a person, or is that a choice a person makes, whether or not to allow it to shape them?

TW:  That’s a great question. I think the past definitely shapes who we are. I don’t think we can get away from it, and anyone who thinks he can is fooling himself. It’s always there. That’s not to say we can’t take that past and rise above it or learn from it. It’s more that we take away life lessons from the past and apply what we’ve learned to the life we’re living now.

Do you eat apples now?

TW:   For a long time I didn’t eat apples. I couldn’t look at an apple or drive past an orchard. I started eating apples again a few years ago. I try to buy organic. If I can’t, I wash the apples with a soapy fruit-and-vegetable wash. And I usually peel them, even though most of the nutrients are right below the skin.

 You are going on tour (or may be on tour as we read this). Is there a schedule online so readers can find you if you stop in their city?

TW: The Orchard has a Facebook page. That’s probably the best place to find my schedule.  Just click on the events tab.

Visit Theresa’s website

Thanks for stopping by for a spin in the ‘vert, Theresa!  Best of luck with your new book!

Blurb for book: THE ORCHARD is the story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm after she falls in love with Adrian Curtis, the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed. Married after only three months, young Theresa finds life with Adrian on the farm far more difficult and dangerous than she expected. Rejected by her husband’s family as an outsider, she slowly learns for herself about the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, even as she falls more deeply in love with her husband, a man she at first hardly knew and the land that has been in his family for generations. She becomes a reluctant player in their attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard, but she and Adrian eventually come to know that their efforts will not only fail but will ultimately take an irreparable toll.

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27 Responses to Guest: Theresa Weir

  1. lois greiman says:

    Theresa, you’re the bravest person/author I know. Thanks for sharing. How’s the tour going?

  2. Helen Brenna says:

    Hi Theresa!!! So glad you’re here today and that this book has finally hit the shelves.

    I really connected with your comment about how while you were actually living the events of this book that there was a lot of humor. That the sadness comes from looking back. Now that the story is out, can you feel it with less sadness?

    What are you writing next?

    • Theresa Weir says:

      Hi Helen!
      I never dreamed this would be published by a major house. I always imagined being pubbed by a small press, maybe selling 1,000 copies or so. Never really thought past that point. So the tough thing is having to talk about the book. To relive it over and over. That’s really hard. I naively thought I’d write it and that would be it. haha. So now I’m basically reliving it on a daily basis. My current project is another memoir! This one about Alzheimer’s. It’s not under contract, so I have no idea if it will be picked up once I’m done.

  3. Cindy Gerard says:

    Hi Theresa!!!! GREAT to have you back here in the ‘vert. And I’m so happy that the memoir you told me about years ago has come to fruition and is garnering such rave reviews and much deserved attention. I can’t wait to read it. It’s sitting in my Kindle now waiting, calling, tempting. Hugs, Cindy

    • Theresa Weir says:

      Hi Cindy!
      LOVED your hummingbird story!!! And thanks so much for the kind words. The number one question I’m asked: Why did you suddenly decide to write this book? And I tell people I’ve been talking about it and thinking about it FOR YEARS. And if I talked to you about it…that was probably at least 10 years ago. I know I also tortured Helen with it too. 😀 I do regret that some of the people who kept telling me I should write this book are now dead!

  4. Theresa Weir says:

    Hi Lois!
    The tour is kind of odd in that it’s not really what i would think of as a tour. I’m sent one place at a time, and return home for a few days in between. I’m heading for Denver tomorrow morning. Stay one night and return to St. Paul, then I go to San Diego a few days later. And I’m mostly doing trade shows and book festivals rather than signings. And you know how I love to get up and speak in front of people. 😀 😀

  5. Theresa Weir says:

    Thanks so much for inviting me here today!! It’s nice to be back in the convertible with you gals.!!

  6. kylie brant says:

    Teresa, I’m thrilled to have another of your books to look forward to! Is there any personal satisfaction to be found at how well the book is being received? I would hope that would help lessen the pain you feel at the constant reliving of the events. Very excited about the well-deserved accolades coming your way!

  7. Theresa, I have so much to say, I don’t know where to begin. First of all, welcome back. Without you I doubt we’d have a convertible. This blog was as much your brainchild as anyone’s, and you got it off the ground, teaching me a ton in the process, which was probably the biggest challenge of all. Thank you!

    And I’ve just read THE ORCHARD. It blew me away. I’ve chuckled and I’ve shed tears in the reading, so the book runs the emotional gamut. It’s exquisitely personal, but that personal quality transfers, and that’s what makes it such a standout. The dates at the beginnings of chapters resonate with me. I met Clyde in 1969, and in ’70 I moved from my world to his. I started writing when we were ranching in the 80’s. This book captures the experience of the newcomer, the outsider, the woman marrying into a different culture. And it’s written with such grace, such humility, honesty–that’s why it touches readers. It has universal appeal. And the voice is absolutely you, remarkably strong and spare and true. Your gifts as a novelist serve the story beautifully, make it a truly engrossing read.

    I know this is just the beginning for this book. I hope you’re ready for that. I want your agent and your publisher to take care of you as well as the book. You’re that courageous, and the book is that good.

    • Theresa Weir says:

      Hugs Kathleen!!!
      Yes!! We did have a similar journey!! I love that!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for your wonderful, wonderful words.
      I adore my agent, Marly Rusoff. I don’t think this would have happened without her. And also my editor, Deb Futter. But everywhere I go I run into booksellers who say the head of marketing put the book in their hands and told them they HAD to read it. So it’s really this chain of people who all have to love to book and believe in the book.

      It was so much fun starting this blog! How it’s grown! I think I came up with the title suggestion of Driving With the Top Down. We went back and forth, and you may have suggested Riding. Can’t recall some of our other ideas. I do remember that Michele thought it might be too long! But anyway, those were exciting and fun times. I miss this place, and I peek in here off and on even if I don’t leave a comment.

  8. Theresa Weir says:

    Hi Kylie!
    Yes, the accolades help a lot. 😀 I’ve been stunned by the reviews, and I think I’m still trying to process everything.

  9. Theresa Weir says:

    I keep forgetting that I can reply directly below the comment! Much better than blogger!

  10. Just ordered another copy of THE ORCHARD and had it shipped to my niece for her birthday. She and her mom–my baby sister–will love it. I’ve been trying to come up with the right gift for this 22-yr-old, and it just hit me. This is perfect. She’s kind of a hippie throwback and, like her mom, really concerned about our food sources.

    You know, I remember reading SILENT SPRING back in high school and growing up a bit. Rachael Carson had a huge impact–because of her we still have eagles, among other things–and I think THE ORCHARD comes along at the right time to have a similar impact. It’s more personal, though. More affective, which could be even more effective. It’s an important book, Theresa. You’ve done your fellow writers proud.

    • Theresa Weir says:

      Kathleen, thank you so much. Again! 🙂 The Silent Spring comparisons have of course thrilled me. I have a first edition of Silent Spring that I picked up at a library sale for 25 cents.

  11. Amy Hahn says:

    Congrats on the lovely blurb in Entertainment Weekly (Sept 30th issue…pg 78, Neil Patrick Harris on the cover)…purple box and everything! Heard such high praise, can’t wait to read the story. Enjoy the tour, and don’t imagine talking to everyone in their underwear, that just sounds too embarrassing!

  12. Kathleen O'Donnell says:

    Theresa, I will be putting this book on my tbr list… I am also going to recommened it to my cousins books club..

  13. Leanne Banks says:

    I am one of those people who you never knew, but who loved you since Amazon Lily. I am so happy that you continue to grow in such an amazing way as a writer, sharing your journey with all of us, somehow helping us to not feel so alone. Thank you.

  14. I just got an e back from my friend Sandy who did some web noodling after visiting RWTTD today and had to order the book, which she’s going to take to her book club. Word of mouth–word of web?–is spreading like wildfire. Hooray!

  15. donnaalward says:

    Theresa – I have to get my hands on this book now! I grew up on an apple farm in the 70’s and 80’s, though I suspect it was a far more idyllic existence than what I can glean from the reviews and blurb of your book. Everything I’ve read about it speaks to the beautiful artistry with which you’ve rendered your story. Congratulations on such a wonderful success!

  16. Thank you for writing this warm, funny, serious, straightforward book. It explained so much.
    At the same time I’m trying to go organic myself and it’s not that easy. Thought I’d capture the rain in a barrel but now I’m wondering about what was stored in the barrel before I got it for nothing!
    Thanks again, looking forward to reading everything else you have ever written.

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