Come and Go, Molly Snow
by Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
Chat with Author Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
Log file opened at: 8/10/99 7:48:53 PM
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<chelak> Welcome all, we will have Ms. Taylor-Hall online (for real) at 8 pm.
<dmardis> Hi, this is my first time here. My book has been back ordered, but I wanted to observe anyway. Is that ok?
<chelak> SURE! Glad to have you dmardis.
<dmardis> Thank you!
<chelak> For more info on Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, check out http://www.ket.org/bookclub
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<sunni> Welcome bernie! We're getting Mary Ann on the line now.
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<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> Rhonda Moberly will be typing for Mary Ann while she is on speaker phone.
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<chelak> Mary Ann Taylor-Hall is the author of "Come and Go, Molly Snow." "Come and Go, Molly Snow" has a main character of a lady bluegrass fiddler. Ms. Taylor-Hall lives near Sadieville Kentucky.
<chelak> We're ready to take questions for her.
<jc> Your title, "Come and Go ..." has two different meanings, doesn't it? Because at first I thought it referred to the "comings and goings" of little Molly (from Life to Death and back again);
<jc> but, by the end of the book, I decided you meant "come and go" as in the colloquial "Come and go to the store with us." Is the dual meaning intentional, or did you have just one of the two meanings in mind?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, That is interesting. NO I only had the one meaning in mind. That she would in her death come and go to Carrie Marie -- that's what Carrie had to learn. That the loss also involved a return. But I like the idea Come Go With Me -- that's nice!
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> I didn't think of it myself.
<sunni> Mary Ann, why did you pick the theme of a lady bluegrass fiddler?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> sunni -- Well that wasn't the theme of the book --it is her situation. I chose a bluegrass theme because I like it. And it seemed that the world of bluegrass music was a convenient way to talk about women in general in art worlds, traditionally dominated by men.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> I stumbled into making her a bluegrass fiddler because I needed a profession for a man in the story which keep him away from home for awhile. Because the plot required that. And then all of a sudden, Hey she could be a musician too. I have no idea why I chose the fiddle than any other instrument But I enjoyed so much doing the research and listening to fiddle music and learning what I could about it.
<bernie> How long did it take you to write this novel. I ask because it seems to me that the greiving process has lots of steps and takes a long time.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> bernie, It took me about 3 years to bring her through that process... Understand it myself. In so far as I do and to see how Carrie could resolve the process in her own life.... It took me about a year to accept that I was writing about death... and to enter the process that the dramatic situation required.
<jc> but the so-called masculine God doesn't seem to have done that particular favor for men! Do you really believe that a female God would be different?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, what particular favor?
<jc> Let me try this again:
<jc> Carrie says that "If God were a woman, she would have seen the danger and cooled down that sense of the hots [for Cap]" ....but the so-called masculine God doesn't seem to have done that particular favor for men! Do you really believe that a female God would be different?
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<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> <jc> (laughing) I guess there's just no hope in the universe.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> If a man God can't, I don't expect a woman God could either -- I guess
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> we ought to be glad for that.
<chelak> Mary Ann, was the death of a child a personal experience for you or someone you knew?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> chelak, No -- I had great trepidation about writing of a death of a child. But I was drawn into it...Because I was trying to imagine the worst situation a person could be in and that seemed to me to be just about it. I took it up as I said before -- it took me about a year to except that was what I was writing about. To experience the death of a child.
<bernie> Ona and Ruth were such special women; not your usual stereotypical KY women. Were they patterned after friends or relatives?
<chelak> Welcome christo99x.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> bernie, Thank you for saying that...
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> I think that behind Ona was the spirit behind my mother -- was from a different place and background. But I was really trying to pay homage to the women who live in the countryside around me... and in Cynthiana which is a town I am associated with.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> It seems to me that there's a kind of country woman in KY that has such an admirable kind of intelligence and competence and feeling for her family and the land and these were things I wanted to honor in this book. Aside from that they just came into my mind and took over. I seemed to know them, though, they are not based on any particular one woman.
<jc> I was completely charmed by the language of the book: i.e., "quite a load of mouthy woman" and "temporarily went gazebo" ...
<jc> are those phrases (and others) in your everyday vocabulary, or did you appropriate them from somewhere to lend authenticity to the book?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, I think that's a very interesting question. The voice of the book is not my own voice. And it rather took up residence in me ...but ... I seemed to have it in me somewhere -- to have that voice in me somewhere.. I was very sure of it, very entertained by it myself.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> And one of the reasons, I think, is that this language isn't my native tongue, in a way, therefore the terms the phrase of Carrie's vocabulary came from an appreciation of that language that I have heard for the last 20 years that I have lived in KY.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> And I think that a lot of the energy of the langauge came from thinking of it as a kind of music.
<bernie> You talk about writing as though you are taken over by a character. How does that happen and what is it like?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> bernie, Well it happens very rarely. And I don't know that it's ever happened to me quite so completely as it did in this novel.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> It happens as a function of the language that comes to you and I couldn't begin to tell you where that comes from but what has happened to me in my writing life several times is that I begin to hear a voice -- the sound of a voice, the personality of that voice. It's like hearing music which gets closer as you get more familiar with it -- till you are really sure. But I don't think of myself as ever having being possessed by such a voice. It takes a lot of hard work. To find a way to reproduce that sound of the voice in your head -- you get sensitized to the rhythms and vocabulary but it's still a battle to bring it out onto paper... But it's fun too!
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> It's sort of like becoming a method actor -- the way an actor becomes the person.
<jc> Where were you born?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> <jc> Born in Chicago but I grew up in Florida.
<DancesWith> So now that it's been a few years since we last saw her, what do you imagine Carrie doing now?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> Dances,I know what I hope for her. And I hope this is what happened.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> I think she is still a musician -- I know that and I hope that she and Cap have found a way to be lovers and friends in a free sort of fully human way.
<sunni> What projects are you working on now?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> sunni, I have a book of short stories coming out in November From Sarabande Press in Louisville. And I'm writing another novel, about half way through it.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> The title of the short story book is "How she knows what she knows about Yo-Yos"
<jc> Did you read Bill Bishop's "Herald-Leader" column on the 1st? What do you think of his assertion that Kentuckians' "sense of place" borders on a "false pride" and is becoming a burden?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> <jc> I didn't read it. I usually read his columns. I can't address it out of context. However, I don't think that every sense of place is a burden. I think that KY is one of the few places left where people stay for generations and that the sense of place is a part of a whole life.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> I don't think for instance that I would ever have been able to write a novel without myself feeling a very deep connection with the place where I live. But I don't know what the Bill Bishop column was about. I can't address that.
<sunni> Will we see "Come and Go, Molly Snow" as a movie?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> sunni, Well I don't know about the movie. It was optioned to MGM and they didn't exercise the 2nd option -- It was sold to HARPO -- they got at script that I didn't like a couple of days ago. So now it's back on the streets and I don't know what is become of it.
<jc> With your background as a teacher of English, you must have some thoughts about the place of the writer -- especially the fiction writer -- in society. Specifically, what can the writer contribute to her family and community? Region? Nation?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, Well, I think what the artist always contributes is a clear seeing of the world that they are in.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> I think that clarity is the only responsibility a writer has. The only responsibility a writer can have to fashion a way of capturing his/her own experience in the world and giving it back I think that if you start from the other end thinking of a socially redeeming message for your poetry or fiction you're likely to end up with an over simplification of experience.
<bernie> Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you take other career paths for a while?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> bernie, I took many career paths (laughing) From the time before I could write I wanted to be a writer and had it in my mind that that's what I would do eventually. But I also for a while took the idea of acting seriously ...
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> My entire professional life if you want to call it that was a search for a way to support myself while I tried to write. But it seems to me I wanted to be a writer as soon as I saw pencils and papers -- almost like a graphic incentive -- I just remember how fascinated I was seeing a pencil across a piece of paper writing things.
<jc> Will regional fiction disappear in this age of global communication?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, I really don't know what's going to happen to fiction.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> It's a question that concerns me a lot. I see a real tendency in that direction and it's disturbing to me because every dramatic instinct that interests me concerns people who are to some extent defined by the physical world that they inhabit. So it seems to me that much fiction is moving into a more and more interior place. Divorced from not only from region but from any exterior reality...
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> And I think it would be a great loss.
<christo99x> how difficult was it to get that first book published?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> christo99x, Well, the first book that I wrote was difficult to publish.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> But Come and Go Molly Snow was taken immediately on the first round of admission. And I don't think there's any predicting what will be easy to sell and what would be hard to sell in current publishing situations.
<jc> How important has your husband been in your development as a writer (if that's not too personal a question)?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, My husband taught me really how to work as a writer -- how to take myself seriously as a writer. And beyond that he's of course -- we read each others work a good deal. Very helpful to me where to go when I get stuck.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> But he's a writer who writes in a very disciplined way. And I'm a writer who has been very undisciplined in my life as a writer...So I've picked up a few good habits from him.
<DancesWith> Molly Snow kept me up very late because I wanted to find out what she decided! Did *you* know how it would end from the start, or did Carrie lead you there?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> Dances, I didn't know how it was going to end until I wrote it. I was having a nervous breakdown about how it was going to end.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> But once I had Carrie Marie and Cap in the conversation before she goes back home to confront Molly's death, I knew that there wasn't a possibility of the novel becoming resolved on the question of whether Carrie and Cap get together.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> It just seemed right to me that Carrie should dedicate herself to regaining her strength and becoming clear about her own life before the question of Cap could be resolved -- that seemed not to be the question of this book.
<bernie> Do you think Cap loved Carrie, do you think he had changed and grown at the end? Did you know a Cap?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> bernie, (laughing) Yes, I do think that Cap loved Carrie in his way. I don't think he was prepared to accept that about himself early on in the book. And I definitely think he has changed by the end of the book.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> But I don't think he has been tested yet. But I see him as man who can change and grow. Yes, I knew several Caps. I never knew anyone exactly like him. He was a combination of several men.
<bernie> We've worn you out with questions. Thanks so much
<jc> Were you, by any chance, teaching Freshman Comp at U.K. in the year 1970-71?
<chelak> Any more questions for Mary Ann Taylor-Hall?
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> bernie, You have indeed. These questions were really good. I have enjoyed this.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, Yes. Why -- were you a student of mine?
<jc> I think so.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, You don't remember! (laughing)_ I'm hurt!
<jc> You were very understanding of my desire to write poetry, as I recall.
<chelak> Thank you all for the great questions.
<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> jc, laughing -- Did you write it?
<jc> Yes, as all adolescents do ....
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<chelak> Thank you Ms. Taylor-Hall. Look for the transcript of this chat online at www.ket.org/bookclub
<DancesWith> Yes, thanks! Good night.
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<Mary Ann Taylor-Hall> Thanks everyone! Good night!
<dmardis> Thank You. Enjoyed the visit
<chelak> Thank you Rhonda for typing for Mary Ann.
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Log file closed at: 8/10/99 8:58:07 PM