By Nicole Brodzik
Her childhood spent in Southwest Minnesota’s prairie’s serves as inspiration for Connie Szarke years later. Now, as an accomplished novelist, she brings it all back to life through her writing.
Her most recent novel, “Lady in the Moon” is the third book in a trilogy set in fictional Masterton, Minnesota. The story unfolds on a car ride as the main character, Callie Linstrom reflects on her life through the lens of those she’s known throughout it. The book was published on June 1 and has already been well received by critics.
“Carrying her own psychic wounds with a feisty grace, Szarke’s Callie Lindstrom expresses remarkable empathy and insight in telling the stories of troubled others in her life,” said poet and author Joe Paddock.” This beautifully detailed, soulful work is a touch gritty and a touch angry over insensitivity and unfairness in the world it describes. And yet there is as well an underlying love for people and place in these stories, and a sort of joy emergent through the depth and honesty in Szarke’s telling of them.”
The first two books in the trilogy are “Delicate Armor”, which was published in 2014, and “A Stone for Amer”, which came out in 2013. Though this most recent novel completes the trilogy, Szarke says it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s done with Callie and company.
“It’s hard to say,” Szarke said. “There’s something magical about a trilogy, but anything can happen with an author.”
“Lady in the Moon” features a number of short stories involving Callie’s family and friends. Some of these stories take place in Paris, another city that is close to Szarke’s heart. She spent time as a high school French teacher and said that this part of her life still influences the stories she writes.
“I’ve got a couple of stand alone short stories I’m working on right now,” Szarke said. “Some of those are also set in Paris. I can’t wait to get back to it. I feel that in me again.”
Even though the writing was done, Szarke has been hard at work with “Lady in the Moon” over the past few months working on promoting her newest novel. She’s been working to get her book to critics and preparing for events to help promote her work and get “Lady in the Moon” in as many hands as possible.
“Even for having come out so recently, it’s been extremely well received,” she said. “People have been ordering the books directly from me and asking for signed, personalized copies. I’m so happy to be able to do that.”
One of the bigger promotions Szarke does is through attending book clubs throughout the state of Minnesota. She says she enjoys being able to talk to her readers and explain why she wrote the stories and get feedback from the book clubs. She’s also visited the Gillespie Center for readings.
“It’s an honor to be part of an event like that,” Szarke said.
“Lady in the Moon” and the entire trilogy are available for purchase through Itasca Books (itascabooks.com) and amazon.com. Szarke can be reached for personalized copies at [email protected]