“Back at home the walls of my bedroom were the same mossy green they’d been for the last ten years. My vet school textbooks lay disorganized on my dresser and in my reading nook. the kitchen was empty, and the sitting room still ached for laughter and conversation. ” ~ from Learning to Fall
When pieces of our life crumble, the first thing we often do is go home in search of comfort and solace. But for Brynn Seymour in Learning to Fall, the act of returning home after the tragic death of her father brings as much heartache as reprieve. With the fate of Redwood Grove Stables and her father’s life’s work in her hands, the actions Brynn takes will mean losing the family ranch or letting go of her own life-long dream of becoming a veterinarian.
In a debut novel that builds around the world of horse show jumping, Anne Clermont gives us a page-turning story with an insider’s view of the strong competition; we read of one woman’s loyalty, her love for horses, and her realization of what matters most in a world where winning is everything.
I’m thrilled to host Anne as she talks about Learning to Fall and doubly excited to give away a copy of her book (courtesy of SparkPress). You can enter the giveaway by dropping your name in the comments OR by sharing this post (and tagging me!) on Facebook (@Christi Craig) or Twitter (@Christi_Craig). Deadline to enter is August 30th.
Now, welcome Anne!
CC: On your website, you say you were inspired to write ever since you took to the trails on horseback for the first time at sixteen years old. What was it about that ride that opened your heart to stories and storytelling?
Anne Clermont (AC): The summer I turned sixteen my parents took us on a long (and at the time seemingly grueling) tour of the US and Canada. While in Wyoming we came across a trail-riding place: one of those rugged, authentic cowboy places. I begged to be allowed to ride and for some reason my parents gave in (they usually didn’t). I had read of horses and open plains and ranches and cowboys, and I romanticized it to no end. Being able to finally ride a horse was magical and surreal in many ways, and after that ride I imagined living on a ranch, surrounded by horses, writing long novels. Stories have been a part of my life from the earliest time I can remember, yet that moment seems to be the moment where many of my dreams laid their foundation.
CC: In your novel, the theme of “letting go” returns again and again for the protagonist, Brynn, as she faces tragedy, difficult choices for her future, and the sordid side of competitions. What do you hope readers take away from Brynn’s trials and triumphs?
AC: I’m a dreamer. I always have been. One of my earliest memories is of laying in preschool during naptime, imagining flying out of the window with the help of magical angel wings. I would discover new worlds, travel, learn… What I didn’t expect as I grew up, and I’m sure many can relate, is that life doesn’t unfold in a neat, organized way, and sometimes it’s not that easy to follow your dreams.
Many of my plans fell apart, many were riddled with obstacles and unforeseen difficulties. There were moments when I didn’t think I could go on, where moving forward seemed impossible. But what I learned from observing those who were happy and filled with joy and love and success was that life is about adjusting, changing course, dealing with the blows that have come your way. Writing LEARNING TO FALL was my way out of a dark place, discovering who I was, finally saying ‘yes’ to a dream that was buried somewhere in the far recesses of my mind. As I wrote it I imagined that one reader, alone, curled up with my book, reading Brynn’s story. I imagined it inspiring them. Reminding them that sometimes life is about learning how to fall – then picking yourself up again. I still hope that it finds that reader and helps make their day a little better.
CC: Outside of writing, you are an editor and web designer, wife and mother, and more I am sure. How do all the roles you play come together to fuel your creativity and guide you to the next story?
AC: Our family recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest so that we could live a simpler life with much less stress and commuting than we had in the Bay Area. Life still isn’t simple, but every day I’m filled with gratitude and love for my husband and daughters who support me one hundred percent in my pursuit of writing. I don’t know if life will ever simply be about writing, but how could it? Living life, with all of its imperfections, is where I find inspiration and guidance to fill pages with made up characters and their stories – ones that hopefully touch and inspire readers.
CC: What are you reading these days?
AC: Right now I’m reading THE GIRLS by Emma Cline, THE HOUSE OF BRADBURY by Nicole Meier, and ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr. There are many other fiction and non-fiction books on my kindle and nightstand and they’re like candy! I don’t know which one to read first!
CC: Do you have a favored mantra that keeps you going when life or writing (or both) slow you down?
AC: We all have things we say to ourselves that either help us move forward or impede our ability to do so. So often I’ll tell myself, or even say it out loud, “I just can’t do/take this anymore! I give up.” But then I realize that if I do, I’ll forever wonder what would have happened ‘IF’. I have to fight against that voice and try to replace it, like a bad hard drive, with thoughts of: “Yes. Yes you can. You can’t give up just yet. You have to see this thing through and see where it takes you.” Then I go back to my computer/task/life event, and try to tackle one little bit at a time. Oh, and I couldn’t do it without yoga, long walks in nature, and my family.
Anne Clermont is a Canadian living in the U.S., born in Kraków and raised outside of Toronto. She spent fifteen years in California before relocating to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She holds a BS in animal biology, and an MBA. Her background ranges from studying animal behavior to carrying out pancreatic cancer research at one of the world’s largest and most innovative biotech companies. Inspired to write Learning to Fall in part by her own experience of running a show jumping business, she now devotes her time to writing and working as a developmental editor. She lives on an island in the middle of Puget Sound with her husband and two children. Visit her website at anneclermont.com and follow her on Twitter (@anne_clermont).
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway: 1) drop your name in the comments OR 2) share this post (and tag me) on Facebook (@Christi Craig) or Twitter (@Christi_Craig) by Tuesday, August 30th!