The Wooden Chair by Rayne E. Golay
Genre: Family saga/literary fiction
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publication
Date of Publication: May 15, 2013
Number of pages: 317
Word Count: 100,00
Winner of the Royal Palm Award, Florida Writers Association
Set against the background of the Finno-Russian winter war, this story starts I Helsinki in 1943 and spans over fifty years of Leini Bauman’s life.
As a child, Leini stands ready to do anything to win her mother Mira’s love. This effort costs her the sight in one eye and as a result, causes her to endure bullying from kids her own age. As a teenager, with her Grandpa’s help, she undergoes one more surgery to straighten her eye, but the psychological scar of the events of her childhood remain.
Leini struggles to break free of Mira’s tyranny by leaving her native Helsinki to study psychology at Geneva University. A few years later, married, herself to a wonderful man, about to become a mother, she is determined with her own children not to repeat Mira’s behavior. With the help of a psychiatrist, she labors through the pains of past hurts to become a nurturing and loving mother and wife, as well as a successful professional, as she grows from victim to victor over adversity. Can her efforts lead her to the one thing she needs to discover the most – the ability to forgive her mother?
Whenever I pause and think about my past, I realized I’ve lived three lives in one. Some people are lucky to spend their whole life in the village or town or country where they were born. They’re surrounded by relatives and friends they’ve known since childhood, have deep roots. I believe they are very rich. My life has been made of a different cloth with hues of the rainbow. It’s been about change and adaptation.
I was born in Helsinki, Finland. For various reasons I changed schools three times before Highschool. When I was very small, my mother used to read to me. She helped me put letters together to form words. As she was done reading “A Thousand and One Nights” my passion was born. From then on, I read everything with the printed word: matchboxes, newspapers, pamphlet and books, of course. I was no more than six years old when my father obtained a library card for me. Believe me, that was one of the happiest days of my childhood. To this day, I read at least three books a week. In school, I always had high grades in composition and wanted to be a journalist, but my parents had other plans. I got a Masters degree in psychology, was certified as addictions counselor in England after studies in the United States.
Skilled in languages, from the age of fifteen I translated dialogues in Hollywood movies from English into Finnish and Swedish. This, my first paying job, came through my father, who was the Nordic managing director of a prominent American film company.
After graduation, I married, had two children in rapid succession. My then husband was transferred to Geneva, Switzerland, so that’s where we moved with our two wonderful children.
In Geneva, I worked in a multinational company as an addictions counselor with responsibilities for all of the company’s European subsidiaries. During this time, I wrote two non-fiction books: one about alcoholism, another about dysfunction in the workplace. I also wrote the script to “Something of The Danger That Exists,” a 50 minute film, used within the company as part of an educational program, which I facilitated. In my function, I was a frequent speaker on dependence at conferences and business groups. As I oversaw company sites throughout Europe and the then East Block countries, I’m fortunate to have traveled extensively.
As an avid reader, I’ve read most American, French and Russian classics, modern literature and poetry. It may seem that my books are autobiographical, particularly THE WOODEN CHAIR, but that’s not so. I believe in writing about what I know, so my life has parallels in Leini’s story, but I guess you have to read the book to find out more.
My whole life I’ve longed for the sun and warmth. When opportunity presented itself, I took up residence in Florida. I live here with my partner, my best friend and husband.
The award winning novel THE WOODEN CHAIR is my second book. At present, I’m editing my third story.
Every book is a journey so enjoy the trip.
Visit Rayne Online:
It’s a pleasure to be here and talk about my two areas of expertise; my book THE WOODEN CHAIR and myself.
AW: Please tell us a bit about yourself and back ground?
RG: I was born in Helsinki, Finland, during the Finno-Russian war. As is usually the case with small language groups, I grew up in a trilingual home; my father because of his business spoke English so that I’d get used to the sound of the language. With my mother, I spoke Swedish, which is my mother tongue. My parents enrolled me into a Finnish language school. Today, I speak these languages, and have added French as my home language after I lived in Geneva, Switzerland for most of my adult life. It’s worth mentioning that Finland is bilingual Finnish-Swedish.
AW: What inspired you to write this book?
RG: After I retired from my career as a psychotherapist/drug and alcohol counselor, I had a lingering memory of some of the clients I worked with who had a history of child abuse. The memories of what they told me wouldn’t leaved me alone. It became compelling to write about their experiences. Their stories needed to be told so the world would know the existence of child abuse, the horrors of it and to understand that nobody is powerless to help the victims of abuse. My choise of on a novel rather than a psychological manual on child abuse came naturally to me after I started developing the character that is now Leini, the female protagonist in THE WOODEN CHAIR.
AW: Describe what the book/story is about?
RG: The book opens in Helsinki 1943 when Leini is a four year old girl. Her father is at the front fighting for Finland’s independence, and Leini is alone with her mother who is abusive of her. Leini goes through childhood and teenage years with a mother who neglects her emotionally, belittles her, is aggressive, openly admits she can’t stand this child she didn’t want. Leini has a wonderful support in Papi, her father, her Grandpa, Grandma Britta and Karl, but added to the emotional neglect from her mother, with her visual handicap life is difficult for her. At the age of nineteen she leaves everything familiar and dear to study psychology in Geneva. She suffers from trauma from the abuse, has trust issues, nightmares, sleepwalks, tends to pick up a drink at the slightest adversity, just as her mother. The story arch is more about the trauma resulting from the abuse – what we would call today Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Leini is a strong woman, very determined to heal from the trauma and give herself all the means to avoid repeating the behavior on her own mother when, married to a wonderful man, she finds herself pregnant.
AW: Is there a message in this novel you want your readers to grasp?
RG: I didn’t set out to write a moralizing book. If there is a message in THE WOODEN CHAIR it is one thing; the people in the life of an abused child have to stop looking the other way. Parents, relatives, friends, teachers, educators, doctors, social workers need to intervene if something doesn’t seem right. There are several people in the periphery of an abused child. They are the silent witnesses to abuse that may be life threatening. They have to speak up, report to authorities if need be.
AW: What was the time frame for writing this book?
RG: I started with developing Leini’s character. I’m not a plotter, but the cases notes I had were a great source of information, so the story was very clear in my mind. It was getting it in written form that took time. I wrote with my heart, but then in the editing stage I deleted large chunks that played too heavily on the sob story string. How long? Altogether a couple of years until I decided the book was good enough to do the rounds of agents and publishers.
AW: How did you came up with the title?
RG: The way the title came to me is quite surprising. I know that readers will understand that Leini told what the book was going to be called. I had two working titles; one was The One Eyed Girl. Awful, isn’t it? The other title was The Silent Witnesses, with which I was rather pleased.
There’s a scene early in the story in which Leini climb up on her mother’s lap, wanting to cuddle, searching affection. Mother is unreceptive and cold. Leini thinks that Mother’s lap is just as hard and uncomfortable as the wooden chair in their kitchen. There was my title.
AW: Who created your cover?
RG: My publisher, Untreed Reads Publishing, has this wonderfully talented artist by the name of Ginny Glass. I love the cover, it exudes the mood of the book, the ray of sunshine one can imagine as Leini’s ray of hope.
AW: Hardest part for writing this novel?
RG: Grandpa is very much Leini’s champion. He loves her, he would do anything for her. Actually, through a medical procedure he helps her with her visual handicap. At this point I identified very strongly with Leini, as if she was a part of me. It was emotionally very difficult to write about his passing, and the void it left in Leini. But, again, she’s a strong and resilient woman. She grieved the time it took, grateful for having had him in her life when the going was so rough.
AW: How did you find your publisher/agent – if self published, why did you choose to self publish?
RG: As I already indicated earlier, I have a publisher, Untreed Reads Publishing. A small publisher of e-books only, but to whom I owe a huge dept of thanks for great support and helping me stay away from some pitfalls that could have slipped me up. The way I found Untreed Reads Publishing it the only way an unknown author can find one; I queried publishers who had “mainstream” or “literary” on their list of subjects they publish. I followed the submission guidelines to the letter. It was a lengthy process, one that made me grow a very thick skin because rejection followed rejection.. Until…Untreed Reads!
AW: What was your biggest learning experience/surprise throughout your publishing process?
RG: Everybody at Untreed Reads Publishing is very easy to work with. It’s much more hands on than I would imagine is the case with big houses. Untreed Reads didn’t send me on an all paid 15 city book tour, but they’ve been very helpful in steering me in the right direction, cautioning me to avoid certain things. I’m a novice at this, so I keep asking if this or that is okay, and I can rely on an honest opinion.
AW: Do you have any other novels out there? If not, what’s next?
RG: I self published my first novel LIFE IS A FOREIGN LANGAUGE. It’s available as trade paper back and e-book. Without being a romance, it’s a love story in the afternoon of life. It’s a cozy book, and Michael, the male protagonist, is worth knowing. I wish we all had a Michael in our lives J
AW: When did writing become a passion?
RG: Become a passion? Writing’s always been a passion. Professional and familiar considerations kept me from writing until somewhere around 1995.
AW: Is this a series? If so, tell us a bit about the books planned.
RG: Leini’s story is fully told in THE WOODEN CHAIR. There’s not going to be a sequel.
The story I’m working on is the story of a woman who as a little child loses her identical twin sister to polio. She grows up with a huge ole inside because her other half is missing. She longs for a child who will belong to her, love only her, never leave her. The story arch is one woman’s struggle with paralyzing anxiety and panic attacks. She starts “medicating” with tranquillizers and alcohol. In the end, she accepts to undergo treatment for alcoholism in a clinic in the United States.
AW: Any advice for other writers?
RG: Oh yes! Never, never, never give up! (Actually, this is a Sir Winston Churchill quote). Another quote I had on taped next to my computer is by Richard Back: “An author is a writer who didn’t quit.” In other words, keep believing in yourself. Because writing is a lonely business, join a writer’s group. Work with a critique group. Over the years I’ve judged quite a few contests, which is a good way to learn about the craft. Believe in yourself and your book. Above all, be patient.
AW: Anything you would like to say to your readers?
RG: If you’ve enjoyed reading THE WOODEN CHAIR, consider getting a book club going in your area. There’s a lot of fantastic material for discussion in the book; the setting, the very “alive” characters, the story itself. If you think people need to read this book, spread the word, talk about it. It’s a book that belongs out there. The more people who read it, the more awareness there is to child abuse. So, again, talk about THE WOODEN CHAIR to anybody who likes a good read.
AW: Favorite Authors?
RG: Sue Miller, Daphne du Maurier, Jeffrey Eugenides, J.R. Moehringer, Mika Waltari who’s a Finnish author of such wonderful works as The Egyptian, and The Etruscan. Herman Wouk’s The Lawgiver published in 2012 when Mr. Wouk was 92 years of age is an absolute gem.
AW: Favorite Books?
RG: I already mentioned a few when I answered the previous question. I enjoyed Curtis Sittenfeld’s The American Wife and Sue Miller’s The Senator’s Wife (these are just book titles, not my penchant for wives, LOL). Hands down, my favorite is the classic Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Another is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, a Pulitzer Prize winner.
AW: Something personal about yourself people may be surpriced to know?
RG: Hmm? How about—I’ve been married several times? How many? That’s personal.
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I wish you all the luck with The Wooden Chair, Rayne, and thanks for sharing it with us today.