Today’s Book: Paint It Black, by Janet Fitch

After the sweeping success of White Oleander (and the movie starring Alison Lohman and Michelle Pfeiffer), the literary world watched in wonder to see what author Janet Fitch would present next. She did not disappoint. Paint It Black is the story of Josie Tyrell, an artists’ model from ‘way, ‘way over on the other side of the tracks, who falls in love with artist Michael Faraday, the wealthy son of a renowned pianist. But when Michael commits suicide, taking away the rose-coloured mirror of his love, Josie is left to question whether the ‘self’ she offers to the world is worthwhile.
This is not a whodunit. The mystery buried within this masterwork is a subtle one, as Josie is compelled to discover the root of Michael’s suffering. What she finds is that the special bond between a mother and son can sometimes be malignant.
Having lost a sister to suicide, I am sensitive to the trappings of melodrama and generalisation that can mar discussions of this issue. Fitch’s portrayal of the situation is both flawless and heartbreakingly human. She does not bury her dead, but conveys with breathtaking assurance that Michael remains a character to be reckoned with.
Paint It Black is not for the faint of heart. However, for the reader who is touched by the sheer poetry and poignancy of life, this book must be inhaled deeply and felt from the inside.
Donna Carrick, February 23, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year! (Gung Hey Fat Choy!)

According to tradition, preparations for the New Year celebration
are already well underway. My Chinese friends tell me that they have spent the
better part of this week cleaning their houses from roof to rafters, as the
New Year’s duck gently marinates in the refrigerator.
Of course, my on-going interest in Chinese culture and language is motivated
in part by the realities of our own family. Also, my current mystery
is set in China, so I am immersing myself in any detail that will lend truth to my fiction.
Because it is my policy to delve into the geography of whatever
region my characters happen to find themselves in, I’ve been slowly chipping
away at learning to speak Mandarin, to the embarrassment of my children, who
die a thousand deaths every time I fail to impress our Chinese friends and
neighbours with my poorly spoken Mandarin.
Just the same, it’s been fun drawing the intricate Chinese characters and
practicing the tones that give each word its unique meaning. I will
probably never be fluent in speaking Mandarin, but every new character
that I learn brings me closer to breathing the same air as my protagonist,
and that is important to me.
Today I’ve been thinking about this ancient Chinese tradition of ‘New Year’s
housecleaning’. I know that most practitioners take the custom very
seriously, believing that in order to receive any good luck in the coming
year, all bad luck must first be ‘swept out’ of the family home.
My Scottish ancestors had a similar tradition of thorough spring cleaning, as did
many Europeans. My parents took the process very seriously, right up till they passed away recently. I can remember my mother warning us to stay out of the house when she was using ammonia to strip the old wax off the floors.
Can it be that the ancients knew something that we have forgotten? I wonder
whether the act of cleaning one’s house was intended to represent a deeper, more
spiritual removal of dirt from the chi. Of course, that could be a copout on my part,
being the kind of slip-shod housekeeper that I am. But I can’t help feeling
that the real goal here must be something greater than achieving a shiny
counter top.
For my own part, as I scrub and vacuum and spray and wash our house tomorrow
I am going to keep this thought in mind: For each germ that I annihilate, I
am going to eliminate one stubborn grudge from my soul. So if I stick to my
plan, then by February 18th I should be ready to enter the New Year with a
clean heart, free from any residual pettiness or anger that I may have accumulated during the previous year.
Best to all, Donna

Hello, readers and fellow-writers… – February 1, 2007

Welcome. My name is Donna Carrick, and I am the author of 2 mystery novels published in 2006: The Noon God and Gold And Fishes. Both books are currently available through
Since this is my first-ever journey into the Land of Blog, it seems appropriate to tell you a bit about my purpose. Like most people living in the new millennium, I struggle to maintain various roles on a daily basis. First and foremost, I’m very fortunate to be married to the love of my life. Together Alex and I are raising three terrific kids, ranging in age from 4 to 22. Life is a blast in the Carrick household, between full time jobs, Mandarin classes, clarinet lessons, our dog Daisy and Dora the Cat.

Thank goodness ‘writing’ is a compulsion; otherwise I might never find the time!

Like every scribe since the first blob of ink splashed onto a page, my mission is to explore new ideas, express thoughts and concerns, engage the reader in stories that I hope will touch him or her on a personal level, and record something of value about the place and time we live in. I also intend to use this blog as a forum for exchanging notions with fellow-artists. Whenever I encounter a writer/painter/dancer/musician/etc. whose work I admire, I’ll tell you about it.

Above all, my purpose is to celebrate the written word in all of its crazy glory. If I can be true to the concept of pure expression, then I will feel that I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. That quest may take me down some strange roads, especially as I explore the connections that exist between literature, painting, music and the many other forms that art assumes.

I hope to use this forum to answer questions that may come my way. So if you have any, feel free to fire them off through the contact form on my Web page. I’d also be happy to hear about any specific topics related to fiction or art that you’d like to share.

Today’s Book: The Killing Art, by Jonathan Santlofer

Santlofer does it again, with this chilling third instalment to his Death Artist series. In The Killing Art, protagonist Kate McKinnon must re-invent herself in the glamorous art world of New York City. But just as she begins to take comfort in her new existence, she is drawn back to her past as an NYPD Detective and finds herself on the trail of a serial killer.
The thing that I find most fascinating and satisfying about Santlofer’s work is the way he incorporates his inside knowledge of the art world into every page. His use of his own paintings as clues is both unique and brilliantly enticing. Before embarking on his career as an author, Santlofer was already a well-known painter. His symbiotic merging of the two art forms creates a product that is addictive to say the least.
-Donna Carrick, February 1, 2007

Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) — The Noon God, January 5, 2007

The Noon GodA dark novel of coming to terms with secrets and accepting the heavy mantle of responsibility.
The Noon God is a dark novel about struggling to survive in the shadow of greatness – or presumed greatness. When Desdemona Fortune’s father is found murdered inside the offices of the faculty of Art, she knows of a great many people who held a potentially lethal grudge against him – and as she struggles to cope with the fallout of a household poisoned by addiction and narcissism, Desdemona must accept that the father she loved inflicted terrible pain on those closest to him.

Now thrust into the role of head of the formerly illustrious family, she must protect her surviving sister from the reach of a seeming immortal at any cost. A dark novel of coming to terms with secrets and accepting the heavy mantle of responsibility, The Noon God fascinates the reader with the brilliance of its stark choices and the hidden depths of its shadows.