Abbe Rolnick offers visions from the heart in this collection of short stories and essays. Explorations of whimsy and wisdom take the reader from the basement of a young girl learning about the Holocaust via a repairman, to a literal and psychological deep dive in the Caribbean, to the humble truths of a dung beetle in Africa, and all points in between. The author’s keen perception and compassion light the way. Truth has many layers, viewpoints give a perspective, slices create a feel, and by putting them together the reader sees more of the author, more of themselves, and can enter other worlds.
Why I wrote Tattle Tales
Written over a period of twenty years, this collection blurs the lines of nonfiction and fiction, truth and imagination. The reader is asked to believe in each “tattle” as a part of a larger view on life. Truth has many layers, viewpoints give a perspective, slices create a feel, and by putting them together, the reader sees more of the author, more of themselves, and can enter other worlds.
Q & A about Tattle Tales
What were your reasons for putting together this collection?
I have written since I was in my early teens. Later in life a began the true journey of an author, and wrote short stories, or essays in between my novels. It wasn’t until I wrote Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply, a memoir of my husband’s and my own journey through cancer that I saw the value of my other work. In my shorter pieces I magnify small incidences, zero in so the reader feels closer. Which is how the memoir was written.
How do you organize diverse writings to make sense to the reader?
In this case I intermingled fiction, non-fiction, and essays thematically. We change through life, but there are patterns, questions, and essences that persist. It was fun to look at the expanse of writing through the lenses of time.
You state in your prologue that you blur the lines of fiction and non-fiction. What do you mean by that?
All writing is based on some sort of truth or memory. My short stories had inspirations from a minor or major occurrence in my own life. Written with a reflective eye I brought in fictitious characters and circumstances. When I wrote in “real” time, the voice was my own. I decided to play with all of my work, putting aside genre, not categorizing what I was writing. This gave me a sense of freedom.
Do you consider yourself a novelist or a non-fiction writer?
The answer is yes to both. Recently I’ve been asked to teach memoir writing. I delve into the arts of non-fiction writing and the various levels from journaling onward. Every writer must be concerned with purpose and promise. The elements of a good story pertain to both types. There are “truths” in fiction writing, but the purpose is to entertain. Non-fiction writing stems from facts, the trick is how they are arranged and what they inform.
Do you have stories and essays that didn’t make it into Tattle Tales?
I keep discovering pieces I wrote that were unfinished either because I had to take a rest or because I didn’t have enough distance from the work to show my ideas. I go back and rework them, not necessarily for a book, but to hone my skills, be more precise, feel more, reflect more. My travel pieces sometimes have to sit and simmer before I can put it all together in frame that distinguishes themes and provoke ideas. Sometimes facts trigger an idea for another novel.
You are working on your third novel, Founding Stones. Where did that get its start?
A road trip from Skagit County across the country, where I was focused on the geological changes in landscape, the “defining” elements of the earth. I took that idea and used its theme with my characters. Although one of my travel pieces from this trip is in Tattle Tales, the novel takes place in Skagit and Whatcom County, continuing themes from my other two novels, River of Angels and Color of Lies.
Can we expect another collection?
Give me some time. I have my notes from Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank. I have essays from my newsletters that can be expanded. Each day something tweaks an idea. My notebook is full. The real answer is I look for a purpose and promise, to myself and my reader.
In Tattle Tales, Abbe Rolnick’s joie de vivre is evident. These stories and essays take you to an inner realm where Abbe, the observer, contemplates an ever-changing landscape called life. Her enthusiasm and passion thread through each thoughtful piece. Enjoy Tattle Tales.
~Mary Elizabeth Gillian, editor, Clover, A Literary Rag
Many photos on this site and in Abbe’s Notes are copyright by Jim Wiggins.