Toadstool hosting Eklund for virtual reading of new novel

  • Hancock writer Jane Eklund recently published her first book, 'The Story So Far' and will hold a Facebook Live event from the Toadstool Bookshop on Saturday, May 2 at 11 a.m. Courtesy photo

  • 'The Story So Far' by Hancock writer Jane Eklund. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/29/2020 5:15:38 PM

Jane Eklund waited 15 years to get her novel, “The Story So Far” published. But her first bookstore reading for the May-December love story isn’t going off quite as the Hancock writer would have expected.

With people unable to gather amid stay at home orders, Eklund will instead be sitting in an empty Toadstool Bookshop to read and discuss her book on Facebook Live for those that would normally make their way to the Peterborough bookstore on a Saturday morning.

Eklund won’t be totally alone, as Sarah Bauhan from Bauhan Publishing, who took on the project of Eklund’s book, Toadstool owner Willard Williams and Christine Halvorson will also be on hand.

Williams will be taking book orders for Eklund to sign, which can then either be picked up curbside at the Toadstool or shipped. Halvorson will handle the Facebook aspect of the event, fielding comments and questions so Eklund can interact with the audience to get as much of a traditional book signing feel as possible given the present times.

For Eklund, it seemed like the right decision to move forward with the event. There’s no telling when a book signing with an audience will happen, and with the book release staying on schedule, she decided to move forward with the event virtually to both publicize “The Story So Far” and bring readers some new material to fill those long days at home.

Eklund likes to describes the book as “the great American lesbian May-December love story.” The book begins in 1977 and a 22-year-old recent college graduate has found herself working in the archives room of a college library. One day, a woman, “a fabulous, seductive, larger-than-life writer of cheesy historical fiction” walks in the young woman’s life will never be the same.

“There are sparks,” Eklund said.

The book follows their love story that spans a quarter century, as their relationship survives a 28-year age difference and the confines of the closet. The older woman, known only as the author, has only known a life that keeps her sexuality a secret.

“She grew up in a time where you could not just be fired from your job and kicked out of your family, but you could literally be thrown in jail,” Eklund said.

On the other hand, the narrator, known as I, came of age during a time where things started to open up for the gay community.

“It offers possibilities for a different kind of life,” Eklund said. “It’s kind of an interesting period in gay history.”

Eklund lived through that time as a gay woman, but it is not an autobiographical novel.

“I did experience those times and that’s pretty key to the story,” she said. “I wanted to write something that was thoughtful and deep. It takes on serious topics, but it’s not devastating or heartbreaking.”

The narrator gets some help telling the story with cameo appearances by Socrates, Hildegard of Bingen, and Suzanne Pleshette. It was an NHPR Socrates Cafe that gave Eklund the idea for the addition of the Greek philosopher.

“When I next sat down to write, Socrates showed up,” Eklund said.

But Eklund quickly realized she couldn’t have just one imaginary character appear. Next came Hildegard of Bingen, who Eklund described as a 12th century mystic who had visions, and added a piece of faith and religion to the novel. As for Suzanne Pleshette, she filled a much different role, with the actress appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and “The Bob Newhart Show.”

There are numerous references to pop culture in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and Pleshette was still alive when Eklund first started writing.

As a poet, Eklund wanted to challenge herself and write in a different way.

“I thought it might be interesting to come up with something longer,” she said. “I didn’t have a plan in my head or a plot to follow.”

She followed the idea of NaNoWriMo and over the course of nine months she just wrote. There was interest when she first finished, as her agent got a book deal with a publishing company, only to have it go away once the company was bought out. She got occasional emails over the last decade and a half about possible interest, but nothing ever materialized until she submitted it to Bauhan.

She did some updating, but overall, there wasn’t a lot that needed to be changed.

“I set it aside,” Eklund said. “I didn’t really think about it that much, but times have changed.” Including the passage of gay marriage, although the book ends before that moment in history.

The live event will be hosted on the Toadstool Bookshop Facebook page starting at 11 a.m.

“I’m trying to be creative to get the word out,” Eklund said. “It’s something writers are trying because we’re all living virtually and on screens right now.”

Copies of “The Story So Far” can be ordered from the Toadstool by calling 924-3543 or emailing books@ptoad.com and Bauhan Publishing by visiting www.bauhanpublishing.com/. For more on Eklund, visit http://janeeklund.com.


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