Saturday, May 7, 2016

The House That Made Me {+ Giveaway}

I’m excited to welcome author Grant Jarrett to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about an intriguing new anthology, THE HOUSE THAT MADE ME: Writers Reflect on the Places and People that Defined Them.

If you are a fan of Tim JohnstonKris Radish, and Lee Upton, you are not going to want to miss this book! Nineteen incredible authors came together with Grant, author of Ways of Leaving, for his first anthology THE HOUSE THAT MADE ME— an inside look into each author’s home, childhood memories, and experiences that shaped them into the writer and person they have become.

Thanks to Grant and the wonderful folks at SparkPointStudio, I have a print copy of THE HOUSE THAT MADE ME to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Quick and easy to read, this fascinating book will have you jumping on Google Earth and to reflect on the home you grew up in and the journey since. Here’s a brief description:

The House That Made Me: Writers Reflect on the Places and People that Defined Them

Home—the place where we were born, where we learned our first lessons, where family was defined. The very notion evokes powerful feelings, feelings as individual as our fingerprints, as enduring as the universe and as inescapable as gravity.
In this candid, evocative collection of essays, a diverse group of acclaimed authors reflects on the diverse homes, neighborhoods, and experiences that helped shape them—using Google Earth software to revisit the location in the process. Moving and life-affirming, this poignant anthology gives fresh insight into the concept of Home.

This anthology includes 19 essays by an array of diverse award-winning authors, including:

• Tim Johnston, author of Descent and winner of the O. Henry Prize, the New Letters Award for Writers, and the Gival Press Short Story Award

• Laura Miller, culture columnist at Slate and co-founder of

• Porochista Khakpour, author of The Last Illusion and recipient of the 2012 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Prose)

• Lee Upton, author of The Tao of Humiliation, named one of “Best Books of 2014” by Kirkus Reviews

• Pamela Erens, author of the critically acclaimed novel The Virgins

• Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Whiting Writer's Award

Please join me now in giving a warm welcome to Grant as he graciously answers some questions for me. Welcome, Grant.

What lead you to do this anthology?

My son has always been very curious about my childhood, so one afternoon about two years ago the two of us sat at my computer, opened Google Earth, and located the house where I was born. We spent the next 20 minutes or so virtually exploring the home and traveling around the neighborhood, and late that night I went back to the computer and paid another visit. The result was my own essay, and in the following weeks the idea for the anthology evolved.  

How were the authors selected that contributed to this book?

I tried to assemble a diverse group, some of whom I knew personally, some of whom I knew only virtually, and some of whom I'd had no prior contact with but whom I believed could bring something compelling and unique to the project.

What was the hardest part of putting this book together?

Although keeping a bunch of talented, chronically creative people on task was like trying to teach a mollusk to play the trombone, my greatest challenge was constructing from these disparate stories a cohesive, captivating narrative.

What experience did you come away with after doing this book?

There is always a feeling of relief when I finish something, but there is also a peculiar sense of loss, accompanied by the knowledge that nothing is ever finished. But after all the work that went into this, I am heartened by the many readers who've responded to the book with the same enthusiasm and sense of universal connection I felt when the idea initially emerged. Perhaps most compelling, though, is my increased need for ice cream and a nap.

Are you currently working on another project?

I have a novel slated for publication next year and I'm currently working on what I hope will be the next one. In response to requests from an impressive number of readers, I've also been wrestling with a sequel to my novel, Ways of Leaving. Although Chase, the emotionally scarred protagonist in "Ways," consistently makes me (and apparently my readers) laugh, he is such a galloping nightmare of volcanic dysfunction, always on the verge of the next eruption, that I find the prospect of spending another two years with him a bit daunting. But that's okay. I have it on good authority that the cranky bastard feels the same way about me.

Grant, thank you for joining us today and sharing this insight into how this fascinating book came about. I’m sure you’ve gotten people wondering and clicking over to Google Earth to find the homes they first lived in.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Grant, here’s a bit of background on him.

Author Grant Jarrett
Grant Jarrett grew up in Northwestern Pennsylvania and currently lives in Manhattan, where he works as a writer, musician, and songwriter.

He has written for magazines including FOW and Triathlon, and is the author of More Towels and an International Book Awards Winner for his latest novel Ways of Leaving. He is an avid cyclist and a reasonably competent flosser.

For more information on Grant and his writing, visit his website at


Thanks to the wonderful folks at SparkPoint Studio, I have a print copy of THE HOUSE THAT MADE ME by Grant Jarrett to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Monday, May 16.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you live in the house where you grew up? Have you been back to the house where you grew up in the past few years?


  1. The house I grew up in was demolished a few years ago and replaced with a McMansion. The area was lovely and I don't think the huge houses which now fill it are an improvement.
    Congratulations to Grant and all the authors who contributed. It is a book which is right up my (very broad) street.

  2. Sadly me was shaped by the telly not by my home :(

  3. What an interesting and effective way to tie an anthology together! Fascinating! Thanks for sharing, Mason.

  4. How well can you train mollusks to play the trombone?
    I'm a military brat and lived all over. I can barely remember all the houses.

  5. No I do not live in the house where I grew up. I don't even live in the town or state where I grew up. I moved over the border when I retired.

  6. Congrats to Grant! I lived in several houses growing up...nobody would want to live there now. As seems to always happen, the homes in those areas have aged and now it isn't really the nice area of town.

  7. I moved far away from where I grew up. I miss the city and how it was when I was young but enjoy my new life.

  8. I remember every inch of the house I grew up in. It was small with a lot of people in it and it will always be etched in my memory. Thanks for the chance to win this cool-looking book


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.