Abbe Rolnick grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. Her first major cultural jolt occurred at age 15 when her family moved to Miami Beach, Florida. In order to find perspective, she climbed the only non-palm tree at her condo-complex, and wrote what she observed. Here history came alive with her exposure to the Cuban culture. This introduction to the Latino Culture proved fortuitous. At Boston University she met her first husband, a native of Puerto Rico. Her first novel, River of Angels, stems from her experiences during her stay in Puerto Rico.
Stateside, she capitalized on the knowledge she gained as an independent bookstore owner and worked for one of the finest bookstores, Village Books, in Bellingham, WA. More recently she opened a healthy foods cafe.
Color of Lies, her second novel, brings the reader to the Pacific Northwest where she presently resides. Here she blends stories from island life with characters in Skagit Valley.
Her short stories and travel pieces have appeared in magazines. Swinging Doors won honorary mention by Writer’s Digest. Her next novel, Founding Stones, will be the third in the series, continuing the stories of characters from the two previous novels, introducing new themes that connect Skagit Valley to the larger world.
Her recent experiences with her husband’s cancer inspired, Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation To Love Deeply. Presently she resides with her husband on twenty acres in Skagit Valley, Washington.
Short stories and essays in Abbe’s latest work, Tattle Tales: Essays and Stories Along the Way showcase her writings from the last twenty years. Her voice takes the form of a child, a maturing woman, and that of an older man, coming to terms with losing his memory.
What are you working on now?
I have another novel just beginning to take shape. The title is Founding Stones. The theme, one that overwhelms me, causing my knees to shake is what defines us. The story is will be centered in Skagit Valley, with some old characters from my previous books, River of Angels, and Color of Lies, with a host of new ones. My research into rocks and stones will parallel ideas of what defines us as human beings and what defines earth as our world.
My most recent book, Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply, is a book I never intended to write. Cancer invades all our lives and my husband’s diagnosis took me in another direction. I put on hold all my creative juices to nurture and understand this new life.
With renewed energy I’ll publish my next book, Tattle Tales: Essays and Stories, this summer. It is a compilation of twenty years of writing. A sprinkling of humor, thoughtfulness, and stages of life’s journey.
To encourage understanding through the art of story-telling, and to challenge assumptions by creating a passageway to the heart and mind.
Questions & Answers with Abbe
How do you create a character so the reader connects?
I watch people around me and keep small habits in my head. I notice when someone walks into my restaurant how their feet hit the floor, if they have an easy smile, or if their hands shake. Since I work with the public and have a family, I see with my heart. I believe that each person is complex, and I want my characters to reflect that complexity. Often I combine traits of individuals from my varied past. Having lived in different cultures, I have felt like the odd one out. My perspective changes as I become the foreigner, the person who can’t communicate. I wanted to be an actress as a child. Now I become the characters.
What secret can you reveal to the audience that is in your head about the characters, the force behind the creation that isn’t stated in the book?
To come up with a character like Molly McCain, you really have to twist yourself into something negative. These were my hardest chapters, and I purposely kept them short. I drew on all the people I knew with negative characteristics and tried to think and act like they would. I actually researched the psychology of a bully. If you go through the book you will see that Molly’s chapters are few and far between. Her ugliness can wear you down. I would have to run for an hour or work in the garden to bring myself back to center.