It's the release day of her novella Sweet William, published by my very own publisher Buddhapuss Ink LLC.
Martie is an exceptional writer. She's one of those writers who make me feel a twinge of envy when I read her words, wishing I had come up with her phrases, wishing I'd see the world through her eyes, at least sometimes.
Download her eBook. Read Sweet William. You won't regret it, I promise.
Here's my review.
On occasion you come across a story that is more like a monument, or a temple to the human spirit. A piece that is never forgotten. The words, the phrases, and the story it tells,weren’t written to entertain; but to endure and be a testimony to what writers can do.
Think of Willa Cather and her My Antonia, Tony Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook.
Novels that weren’t written to entertain. They were written to tell the tale of humankind, of suffering, adventures, liberation and the incredible love humans are capable of once they overcome the boundaries of society, habit, and custom.
One of those stories is Martie Odell Ingebretsen’s Sweet William.
Even though it is a novella, it manages to explore in wonderful, poetic language the way pain can reduce a man’s life to the lowest level of human existence—the daily fight of a life on the streets.
William, after losing his wife and child, his work, his passion, has chosen this path by default. He has chosen to be alone, his needs and desires pared down to sheer survival. His days are chopped into little rituals to give them structure, but nothing more. Emotions, contact, and communication are not things William wants. He lives with the certainty that by locking all these out he will also succeed in locking out pain, and memories, and loss.
But life loves William more than he loves life, and it wants him back.
Like a flower unfolding after a long, dark frost, petal by hesitant petal, William’s heart is opened by the patience and love of a few people who are willing to ignore his current condition, people who know he has much to give and who reach out to him.
Step by tiny step, he regains all the things he has either locked inside himself, or out of his heart.
I want to call Ingebretsen’s writing voice formidable, overwhelming, literary in a way that many authors won’t allow themselves to be. She must be a fearless, clear-eyed woman to write the way she does, and yes, she makes me jealous at times, when I wish I had thought of that phrase, and not she.
I want this author to write long, fat novels. I think she has it in her to write that thing we all dream of writing, The Great American Novel.
I want to hold that novel in my hands while I go on that exciting journey with her.
And I want to be first in line when Ingebretsen sets out on her book signing tour, to get my copy signed.
Now I can hear you say, “Well, she has to praise her. They share a publisher!”
But a polite, kind, bland review would have done the job. I could have said, “A great read, an interesting new author,” and everyone would have been pleased. Everyone but me.
I believe what I’m saying about Martie Ingebretsen. Watch her. If she keeps writing, if she does start writing novels, we’ll see her at an award ceremony someday, holding up one of the big awards.
Last week I did a short interview with Martie, and I want to share it with you now:
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
In high school I took a sociology class. The teacher asked us to write a synopsis of two different books. I took the road less travelled. I guess you could even say I didn't follow directions, but I did take a chance. I wrote the papers in poetic form and got an A+ on both. That was a turning point in believing in myself, and also trusting a reader.
What was the first thing you ever wrote?
My mother saved a story I wrote called The Little Raindrop. I was in second grade. I still have it somewhere. It was more coloring than words.
What do you like to write best? Which kind of writing seems most natural to you?
I have been writing poetry since those first poems in high school. I enjoy coloring with words by writing from an emotional or spiritual level. I have always been a people watcher. I remember going with one of my friends to the airport to do just that. We would talk about what we thought they were thinking and where they were going and how they felt about it. Those are still important aspects in the process of getting to know the people and events I write about.
Tell us how you came to write Sweet William.
My husband and I owned a flower shop. Sometimes I would go with him to the flower market around 2 o'clock in the morning. The area was one where many homeless people slept on the street. I was bothered by what seemed to be their sad and crazy life. One night, in my comfortable home in a comfortable suburb of Los Angeles, the rain was coming down hard on an aluminum boat outside my bedroom window and woke me. I laid there wondering what the homeless were doing to stay dry and safe. The next day I started writing Sweet William.
How do you see the role of an author in today’s publishing world?
I think that authors are teachers. They give us a glimpse into the lives of people and places we would not otherwise be able to see. I have always been a copious reader and majored in English Literature in college. I learned a great deal from those books and will always be grateful for the teacher in each of them.
What are you working on right now? Tell us a bit about what we’re going to see from you in the future!
I would like to publish a book of my poems. I have several manuscripts ready. I am also writing a story about love and loss with a sprinkle of mystery. So far I like where it is going. I wonder how it will end.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Peaceful, positive, thoughtful
What are you reading right now?
The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel by Sam Hilliard.
You’re sitting at your desk. Tell us what you can see.
Well, I'm not sitting at a desk. I'm sitting with my laptop in a rocking chair in the living room. I see a room that is small and cozy with a couch of pillows and an oriental rug, slightly worn. Beside me in front of a window are many green plants. Outside the sliding glass door I hear the wind chimes. it's a beautiful day.