Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

An interview with LeeAnn Heartney, from Three for a Girl

LeeAnn Heartney, circa 1973

Recently I was lucky enough to reunite with the protagonist of my novel, Three for a Girl, after a long separation. Here’s our conversation:

What The Hell: Welcome, LeeAnn. I’m so happy to have you here. I hope you’re doing all right these days.

LeeAnn Heartney: Thanks, Kevin. I’m really glad to be here. I’ve been thinking a lot about everything, since that summer is fifty years old. Hard to believe.

WTH: Let’s see. Doing some quick math in my head, you’re 67 now.

LAH: Yep. And I’m not ashamed to say so. Age is just a number, right? I just saw a meme the other day that said, When Mozart was my age he was dead.

WTH: [laughing] Good one. Yeah, I’m 66 in a week or so, and I’m not factoring that into much of anything. Other than how my hips feel at night.

LAH: I did yoga for a while, but eventually I said fuck that. You can’t fight cartilage degeneration.

WTH: So, let’s get to the summer of ’73. So much happened in that time frame that you somehow found a way to channel it all through the viewpoints of four different people. You, your sister Jeannie, and your mom and dad. How did you literally get into the heads of your other family members?

LAH: I obsessed. Kind of sick, really. And I only started to think about it years later, after my husband died. Growing up and just living—it distracted me till then, you know what I mean? It wasn’t till I was alone out there in Washington State that I started retracing my steps. And let me tell you, constant rain is a great metaphor for depression.

WTH: So you wanted to figure out how you got where you were. In your head, mostly.

LAH: Yep. And it all went back to the summer of ’73.

WTH: It’s odd how our lives sometimes pivot on a dime like that, isn’t it? And it can be good or bad. It’s not always a tragedy.

LAH: Right. And in a lot of ways, that was the best summer of my life because it forced me to do something. People always float along in sewage without thinking they ought to climb out and wash off. Change it up. That’s what I did. But, of course, things got complicated.

WTH: There’s so much to ask. Like how you came up with California as your utopia. I know the unnamed city in the book is St. Louis, and it’s about as far from California as you can get, metaphorically.

LAH: It was The Graduate. I saw the movie and just loved the vibe out there. Ben’s swimming pool especially. It’s stupid, I know. I don’t even like Dustin Hoffman that much. I wanted to be Katharine Ross, I guess. Go to Berkeley. Look amazing.

WTH: It’s things like that, though, that get people through bad times. A thing to yearn for.

LAH: For sure. Like Jeannie’s thing about—

WTH: No spoilers here. People want to read all about it in the book.

LAH: Right. Mum’s the word. But the point is, if you have a prize to keep your eyes on, you stand a chance of getting through the clusterfuck.

WTH: So, over the years, you’d talk to your parents and Jeannie about that year.

LAH: Right. And in detail. It was like I was interviewing them. Sometimes I literally took notes, and you can imagine how Mom hated that. She thought I was putting together a legal case against her. I would never have done that, but I did hold a pretty nasty grudge for a long time.

WTH: Is she still alive? And your dad?

LAH: Daddy died a couple of years ago. Ripe age of 89. Mom’s still ticking, but only because she stopped smoking decades ago. She’s in an assisted living place in Lakeland, Florida, and likes showing up at protests against whatever the DeSantis affront du jour happens to be. I sent her a t-shirt that says Antifa Granny. In a lot of ways, she never did get over Watergate.

WTH: You two are good now?

LAH: Oh yeah. We kissed and made up. And we both cried, believe it or not, when we heard our old house on the viaduct burned down.

WTH: I imagine it had a lot of bittersweet emotions associated with it.

LAH: My whole childhood was there. It was like a boat we were all stranded on, and now it’s sunk. Some people live a lot of places growing up, and some have only one, and now I think it’s better not to get too attached to a house. On the other hand, memories are all in the head.

WTH: What about the ambulance men? The tenants your mom brought in that year. Ever hear from Kurt or Woody?

LAH: You’re kidding, right?

WTH: You never know. People change.

LAH: I don’t think these guys were capable of change. I mean, yeah, they got a pretty big wakeup call that summer, and for all I know they did change after that. Way out of my view.

WTH: Three young men in the house with two teen girls. That would make for some fireworks.

LAH: It was the sitcom from hell.

WTH: Let me ask one more, kind of personal question.

LAH: Shit. I mean shoot.

WTH: You never remarried after your husband died, as I remember. Why not?

LAH: Oh God, that’s not an easy one. It’s like we were a thing that got split in half when he died, so I was only half a person after that. I couldn’t do that to someone else. Saddle him with half a mate. Everybody deserves a whole person. And if you said my new husband could be my other half, I’d tell you it was impossible because the part of me that attaches was gone. I found things to make me happy though.

WTH: Such as?

LAH: Trees. I can’t get enough trees.

WTH: LeeAnn, thank you. We should keep in touch. It’s been too long.

LAH: You’re a sweetie, Kev. I’ve missed you too.

Buy Three for a Girl


5 comments on “An interview with LeeAnn Heartney, from Three for a Girl

  1. Marie A Bailey
    April 24, 2023

    Yes, you are a sweetie, Kevin! I love this interview with your main character. Nice way to promote your book 🙂

  2. Bill Pearse
    April 25, 2023

    That’s so cool, and clever Kevin. Just started reading and the ambulance just pulled up! Loving it.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 25, 2023

      Thanks, Bill! I feel like I know this girl really well, somehow. I knew a family a lot like the Heartneys when I was 16, so this one’s close to the bone.

  3. Pingback: Three For A Girl by Kevin Brennan #BookReview – 1 Write Way

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This entry was posted on April 24, 2023 by in Publishing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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