Several months ago, I had the opportunity for a sneak preview of Angela Janacaro’s debut novel, The Dishwater Tree, and enjoyed the story so much. Now that it is out, I wanted to share her journey with my readers.
Welcome, Angela. Where did this story come from?
Thank you, Heidi. This story came to me by way of a ninety-two year old woman who happened to mention a trip she and her husband were taking back to the Miles City, MT area to view her childhood homestead. When she returned I asked what she had seen and her reply was, “The only thing left was my mother’s dishwater tree.” Although I had never heard such a description of a tree, I knew immediately what it meant and it struck a chord with me and ignited my imagination.
Have you always wanted to write? How did you get started?
I have always written, but never considered myself a writer. For me writing has always been a way to express something I am unable to verbalize. When I started having children, my writing increased exponentially because I had so many emotions for my children and my life as a stay-at-home mother. I began writing after the children’s bedtime and during naptime as a creative and emotional outlet. I also enrolled in an adult education course for writing. It met every month and I was required to bring something to class which set the sideboards on what I could realistically accomplish during the month. The most difficult aspect of the class was sharing what I had written with others because it felt so deeply personal to me. After a few classes, I discovered people responded well to my words and stories and it gave me the confidence to believe there was a novel in the pages I had written.
What did you learn from writing The Dishwater Tree? And what would you like your readers to learn from it?
Writing this book was such a wonderful experience! I know it sounds cliché, but it amazes me a seed of an idea could be given to me by way of a conversation with a friend, and it could grow into the story of The Dishwater Tree. I learned the emotions, situations and characteristics I write about are universal and embraced by anyone who reads this book. First and foremost, I want the readers of The Dishwater Tree to be immersed and entertained. Secondly, if a reader takes anything from the story I hope it is the feeling that life is beautiful. If we all had the privilege to make it to the epilogue of our own lives I think we would find both the bad and the good meant something, and brought us, and those we loved full circle.
Who is your favorite character, and why?
Hmmm….tough question because I love them all! It’s almost like answering which of my four children I love the most. My favorite character is Josephine Rourke. She is everything we all aspire to be; beautiful, rich, kind and loving. Yet, she also endures terrible hardship and loss which is something we can all relate to in our own lives.
Do you write in chronological order or do you bounce around within the manuscript?
I have been asked that question many times and I can understand why because it’s almost as if there are two novels under one cover. I wrote the story from prologue to epilogue. While I was writing a chapter with Josephine and Jimmy in 1922 I knew what would have to happen in the following chapter with Worthy and Marie in 2002. Because the characters are so intertwined, the thought process flowed easily for me. I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but because I am such a rookie writer, I did not even use an outline.
What books or authors have most influenced your life most?
The book, Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig because of its sweeping descriptions of the Montana landscape and raw human emotions. The author, Mildred Walker because her characters are so relatable and her writing style is clean and concise.
“You’ll never know until you try.”
How did you find your publisher, Raven Press?
My sister knew that I had a manuscript hidden away in a desk drawer and that I had never done anything with it because I really didn’t know what to do. She shared a newspaper article about Janet Muirhead Hill and Raven Publishing. I sent in a query, and the rest is history.
Do you have another writing project underway?
I do! I am working on a book about a lifelong best friend relationship which is tested because of poor decisions made earlier in life and truths left untold.
Synopsis: It’s 2002, and Worthy Chambers’ days are as numbered as the leaves on the dishwater tree at the end of Confederate Lane. Her final wish is to know who left her on the orphanage’s steps nearly eighty years ago. With few clues to follow and the clock ticking, her daughter Marie agrees to help in the search. Life-long questions are answered, love is rekindled, and secrets are revealed.
Alternating chapters take the reader back to 1922 to share in the life of Josephine Rourke, a young woman pledged by her parents to marry a hot-tempered man she doesn’t love. Meanwhile, a young Irish activist for the copper miners of Butte, MT, flees to Wallace, Idaho, to escape the threat of death. When he and Josephine fall in love, trouble brews for both of them.
The weeping willow tree on a barren hill in Miles City, Montana, plays a part in the hopes and dreams of three generations.