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Trusting One’s Creative Voice

Lis Bensley
Lis Bensley Author Interview

The Glimpse follow a rising artist who becomes pregnant and is determined to be a good mother and a good artist while facing the harsh realities of a male dominated world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This book hit a number of curiosities. I’ve always been drawn to the Abstract Expressionist movement and wanted to delve into what this era was like for a woman artist. It was considered taboo to have a child if one wanted to be successful. Also, I was interested in exploring what happens to someone who is successful early in a movement, then disappears. What happened and why?

Liza Baker is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I modeled Liza loosely on Joan Mitchell, my favorite painter from the Abstract Expressionist times. Like Joan, Liza is a very talented artist, fiercely devoted to her work. She also has a troubled relationship with her father whom she never could please. Mitchell’s biggest regret was that she never had a child. Liza did and she longed to be a good mother, even as she was desperate to re-establish her early success. Problems in pursuing both were inevitable.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Difficult mother/daughter relationships (as most are) and how hard it is for women artists working in a male dominated arena, especially if they choose to be mothers. Also the value of persistence and trusting one’s creative voice.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

This next is quite different. It’s about a boy who survives a punitive childhood (adopted by Christian fundamentalists) by becoming one of the first Christian ventriloquists. I’m titling it Raised in Captivity. Won’t be out for a bit as I write around a full time job.

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Liza Baker, a rising star in the burgeoning Abstract Expressionist era, finds herself sidelined when she gets pregnant, and decides to have the child. Yet, against conventional wisdom, she’s convinced she can have a successful career and be a good mother to her daughter, Rouge.

She takes a job teaching at a college and comes up against the harsh realities of the male-dominated art world. Unable to build a successful career, she watches as her former lover, whose work resembles hers, skyrocket to fame. Liza develops a drinking problem and often brings home artist lovers she’s met in the city. When Rouge meets Ben Fuller, one of Liza’s discarded lovers who subsequently fosters Rouge talent in photography, the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship takes on the added charge of a competition between the two, one that Liza tries to sabotage.

THE GLIMPSE is a moving, unsentimental tale of the charged New York art world of the 1950s and the relationship between a mother and daughter as they grapple with their relationship that becomes pivotal to their artwork.
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