I would like to Spot Light Susan Sage, Author of “A Mentor and Her Muse”.
I asked Susan how she came to write “A Mentor and Her Muse”, and if she had a muse when writing this story, who it might have been:
I’ve often heard that novels begin with questions, so here were a few of mine: What would it be like to spontaneously take a road trip? Where would I go and who would I want to go with? I’ve always enjoyed traveling, though trips I’ve taken with my husband have always been pretty well-planned out – especially longer ones. It was easier for me to write about places in Ohio because I’d been there, but well into the first few drafts of the novel, I’d never been to North Carolina. Internet research came in handy regarding a few of the places I wrote about, though I have to admit that the area I wrote about outside of Asheville was a little less populated in my imagination. Also, I’ve never taken a long road trip by myself, though it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. What prevents me is that, like my main character, Maggie, I don’t like driving much. However, she’s definitely the sort who can ‘throw caution to the wind’ way more than me. She doesn’t back away from obstacles, even if it means breaking the law, something I would never do. She chooses Taezha to accompany her primarily because she regards ‘Tae’ as her muse. But I don’t think I would’ve had Maggie take the trip, had it not been for Tae.
My muse for the novel was a girl, younger than Tae by a few years. I met her at an urban school where I was an educational coordinator. I coordinated field trips, tutored, and ran an after-school program. One of the fifth graders in the program was a girl who had just discovered that she wanted to become a writer. She often stopped by my desk with her poems or stories, and it impressed her because I read what she wrote with interest and my full attention. Who doesn’t want to be taken seriously? She knew I had published some of my writing and had lots of questions. Yet it wasn’t simply her writing interest that caused her to become my muse. She had this great, positive energy, and a lovely laugh! After I left my job to work at another school, I lost touch with her, but her memory burned bright – and it was then she became my muse and I came up with the idea for A Mentor and Her Muse.
I had little doubt who would accompany Maggie on her journey. (Tae was definitely more an older version of the girl from the north side of Flint than Maggie was me.) I’ve had way more mentors in my life than muses. The trick of having a muse is that we can’t get to know them too well; if we do, they can no longer fulfill that role – or at least not as well. Hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler alert!
Taezha Riverton, a young girl who wants to become a writer. She lives in Flint Michigan. She’s a bright girl, a talented young writer, and according to Maggie, an “intellectually curious” young girl. She lives with her mother and three sisters, although she questions whether Quintana is actually her mother. Taezha befriends Maggie Bennett, a woman in her 50’s who works at the school Taezha attends. Taezha (Tae) has discovered in Maggie something that has been missing since her Aunt Serafina died. She looks to Maggie as an Aunt, and she finally feels like someone cares about her.
Maggie Barnett works at Jefferson Middle & High School in the library. She has met several smart and talented students, but none have effected her as Tae has. Maggie is a woman who is rarely settled in her life, she published a book and just about the time she thought it was beginning to take off and become a top seller, it stopped. Maggie decides that she wants to take Tae on a road trip and help her become a great writer by seeing life and living in on the road. She also tells Tae that she will take her to meet her Uncle Tyler, a very good friend of Tae’s Aunt Serafina.
This was a different story from what I normally read, but it was a good read. I found myself questioning Maggie’s motives of going on the road trip with Tae. Was she really looking at Tae as her Muse, or was she trying to find something that was missing from her life, like a family? It is clear that Maggie cares for Tae, but is it a healthy relationship for either of them? Is Maggie trying to recover her youth, her writing, or a family that she was denied for so many years due to her lack of finding the right man for her, and the fact that she has no living children of her own. I give this book a 4 star review. Ms. Sage did a great job of painting the picture for this book. Her description of Maggie was so detailed that I could almost see her in front of me.
If you enjoy women’s fiction and psychological novels, this is a good book to read. It a book about social norms, obsession, and the ambition to succeed.