What will Kentucky Book Festival visitors find on your table?
The Language of Kin was just published on July 11, 2023. This novel deals with a fundamental ethical conflict between two zookeepers, Kate and Marc, over how to help a young, terrified chimpanzee acclimate to the (fictional) Dayton, OH, zoo. Eve had been caught as a baby in Uganda and sold to an American medical lab where she was subjected to years of painful experiments; by the time she arrives at the zoo, she’s thoroughly traumatized. Kate and Marc, who are each also pressured by responsibility for a dependent parent, manage to work together until a life-threatening crisis at the zoo brings their struggles to a dramatic breaking point.
The Testament of Harold’s Wife features a feisty retired school teacher living alone on her SE Indiana farm with her opinionated, bossy cat and her four remaining chicken/pets who stick their beaks into her business. Louisa is grieving the loss of her beloved grandson to a drunk driver, and the related death of her husband, six-months later. She discusses it all with her farm companions and her sister, CarolSue, until she decides to stop drowning in grief and develop A Plan. She’ll take up her husband’s failed quest for revenge on the guilty driver who got off scot free. Good thing she still knows how to shoot. She also has to keep that puffy Sheriff–and her annoying adult son Gary–out of her private life. Or, maybe nature will take over and help her out?
The Book of CarolSue is a stand-alone novel but has the same characters as The Testament of Harold’s Wife, plus a few new ones. In this novel, after being widowed herself, CarolSue relocates from Atlanta back to the family farm where her widowed sister, Louisa, to whom she is close, lives. There she discovers that Louisa has been keeping a big secret, and, angry, CarolSue decides to leave–but then Louisa’s son, Gary, who’s mixed up with a scam artist, shows up with a stranger’s baby and an enormous problem of his own.
In Remember My Beauties, Hack is an elderly horse breeder and trainer, patriarch of a falling-apart family. Louetta, his wife, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the remaining horses while dealing with her own home and job–not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses, but she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again, throwing the family into crisis. When the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope.
Where The Trail Grows Faint won the Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. It’s the story of working with my chocolate Lab, Hannah, as a therapy dog team in a nursing home, braided with my family story of long distance eldercare and the life changes in the forest where Hannah and I hiked over the course of that year. Since Hannah had just graduated from her therapy dog certification, there were a lot of hilarious moments to recount as well as many poignant ones as the residents shared their lives. While doing this job, I discovered a great deal about what often goes so terribly wrong in nursing homes and what makes the outstanding ones so much better an alternative.
Whom do you invite to stop by? Who will benefit from reading your book?
I’d love to talk with any reader! Perhaps those who enjoy novels that address a serious underlying theme are most likely to enjoy my work. I write realistic fiction portraying the struggles, failures, humor and hope of close relationships in today’s complex world.
The Testament of Harold’s Wife, and The Book of CarolSue deal with aging, grief, and rebuilding after overwhelming loss. While both novels are realistic, each also use humor a good deal in its narrative voice. They are set in rural SE Indiana close to the Ohio and Kentucky lines. Testament also concerns the fallout from a drunk driving incident, while CarolSue looks at the human repercussions of immigrant deportation.
Remember My Beauties is set in Kentucky horse country around Lexington and features a retired trainer, very much devoted to his four remaining horses, his “beauties.” Horse lovers in particular may love this novel, which also concerns a falling-apart family and the possibility of redemption. People who have a family member struggling with drug addiction may also appreciate this novel.
Dog lovers, those with concerns about aging or those with relatives in a nursing home may have a particular interest in Where The Trail Grows Faint: A Year In The Life Of A Therapy Dog Team. Those interested in dogs performing service roles are likely to be attracted to this book, also.
My most recent (July, ‘23) novel, The Language of Kin, is ideal for those who are interested in ethical conflict when each side seems to have a valid argument, those interested in zoos and their inner workings, members of the deaf community and their families and friends, anyone with an interest in aphasia (the loss of one’s ability to understand and use words), and those interested in animals and human/animal connections. It’s also a good novel for those interested in the various ways we communicate, including American sign language.
Could you please tell us something curious about you and/or your book?
I’m a dog lover, and for the past 25 years, Labs have won us over. Our yellow Lab, Scout, injured himself chasing his ball last November–he “slipped a disk” in his back; it extruded and bruised his spinal cord. He was paralyzed for close to eight weeks, much of that time confined to a large crate for “bed rest” and on a catheter. My husband and I have been doing his physical therapy, under his vet’s guidance, ever since. Scout’s now walking again and can even run, albeit with a wonky gait. And finally! we have him swimming in the river in the nearby forest–the best exercise for him, his vet says. I have lots of pictures of all this on Instagram (LynneHugoAuthor). I also wrote about it on my blog, easily found on my website, www.LynneHugo.com
Is this your first time participating in Kentucky Book Festival? If yes – what are you looking forward to the most? If you’ve participated before – what was your favorite experience at the Festival?
This is my second time at the Kentucky Book Festival, and I’m honored to participate again. I’ve especially loved talking with avid readers, members of various book clubs, and other authors.
Lynne Hugo and her husband live in southwest Ohio with their yellow Lab. The Language of Kin explores the various ways humans communicate and fail to communicate, and what we ultimately come to understand and forgive in ourselves and each other.