Here today is Barbara Stuber, author of Crossing the Tracks. This is a coming of age story focusing on a teenage girl in the 1920s. After losing her mother early, having a distant relationship with her father, and now being shipped off to the countryside to keep the elderly mother of a bachelor doctor company, Iris has a lot of strides to make. My full review can be found here, but I really enjoyed this book. Stay tuned after the interview for a way you can win a copy of this great book.
What would you have done if you were in Iris' position and being shipped off to live in the country with strangers without your father even asking your permission?
I would have done exactly what she did. I would not have been able to speak up or stand up for myself. My first impulse would have been to please somebody else, even if I was boiling inside.
If you were transported back to Iris' time, what do you think would be the hardest thing for you to adjust to?
The slower pace of life and the dismal selection of sanitary products.
Though Iris does interact with Dot and corresponds with Leroy, the majority of her interactions are with the elderly mother rather than someone her own age. Did you find it difficult to write this style of relationship for a YA versus friends of her own age?
Iris had a friend in an earlier version, but when I listened to their dialogue with an honest ear, Iris’s confiding sounded forced and phony so I booted the friend fast. Leroy, Marie and the wallpaper goddesses took over friend duty. Also, in this rural place, in this era, kids didn’t hang out and do things in groups. Even talking on the phone was open to the party line. (Come to think of it, our current electronic conversations are even less private!) But… overarching all this is the fact that Iris’s losses were so huge and the holes inside her so deep that she needed a strong, resilient character like Mrs. Nesbitt – an old soul who had survived a great deal and knew how to respond to the deep ache in Iris. I just couldn’t find a believable peer/friend type person for that fundamental role.
In your research for the time period, what was the most interesting thing you found?
The MUM Museum aka The Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health. Yes indeed, this is now an on-line museum – the real one owned and operated for years by Harry Finley in his basement, has closed. I learned about the “silent purchase,” viewed a range of mind-blowing contraptions, read “Nancy’s Biggest Day at Camp” written in 1941- if you’re feeling “dopey” you can turn that frown into a smile with a properly fitting Modess pad! I even found the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph for menstruation.
If you could pair Iris with any character from any book, who would you pick for her?
Lindsay Lohan. She’s a character in her own biographies, right? I picked her not because they would hang out together, but because Lindsay Lohan has become so shredded and shattered by life. She needs to move to Wellsford and absorb the calm, undivided, genuine attention of Mrs. Nesbitt, Dr. Nesbitt and Marie. Come to think of it – we all do sometimes.
What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?
The circumference of my head which is 21 15/16 inches. *Note: circumference varies with the humidity.
What kind of cake/confection would you describe yourself as?
The Original Fat Boy – not because I’m particularly fat or a boy or even that original, but because I really like them. Also they are a litmus test for friends, i.e. if a wad of the sandwich part is cemented between your front teeth and your “so-called” friend doesn’t bother to tell you… well, get a real friend. Another confection I’d like to think I am is that mysterious, hand crafted chocolate thingie in the back of the bakery case with a hundred secret layers.
Thank you, Barbara! If that hasn't whetted your appetite for this book, check out this great trailer:
For your chance to win a signed copy of Crossing the Tracks, fill out this form! Contest is US/Canada only and ends Sunday, August 8 at 6 pm CST.