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Michigan author explores tough reunions and the grace of forgiveness

Aug 5, 2015

Credit Courtesy of the author

The power of forgiveness. The power of trust. The often-complicated, sometimes-thorny relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Those are some of the themes that Lansing's Lori Nelson Spielman explores in her latest novel Sweet Forgiveness.

Spielman's life has been full of educational experiences and career changes. She started as a speech pathologist, went back to school to become a high school guidance counselor, then a teacher, and she uses these experiences in her writing.

As a home bound teacher, Spielman taught students who were expelled, including instruction of an English course that required her to write short vignettes.

"It rekindled my love for writing."

Soon she began taking classes at Lansing Community College and attending writing conferences.

It took a lot of hard work to publish her first novel. Spielman says she began trying to write when she was 40 and didn't sell her first book until she was 51.

"It was a learning process, like anything else, and I received lots of rejection letters along the way."

But it has paid off, with her books rising on best sellers lists across Europe.

Of her overseas success Spielman says, "I have a wonderful agent who sold the foreign rights far and wide. And I jokingly say they must have a really good translator over there."

Spielman's newest novel Sweet Forgiveness is set in New Orleans and follows a television talk show host, Hannah Farr, who is originally from Michigan.

Hannah receives a pouch of forgiveness stones from her high school bully Fiona. The rules of the stones are that Hannah is to send one back to Fiona to signify the lifted weight of Fiona's shame and Hannah's anger. Then Hannah is expected to send one on to someone she has done wrong. This experiences leads to Hananh's return to Michigan to visit her mother from whom she is estranged.

The idea of using stones to symbolize forgiveness came to Spielman after she noticed the friendship bracelets worn by many of her students.

While Spielman felt a bracelet would be too public, she thought stones were the perfect token of forgiveness, saying stones “Can build bridges, they can build walls, which is exactly what our apologies and grudges can do."

Spielman is currently working on her third novel and says, "It's a little different than when I was teaching and just writing for my mother who would be possibly my only reader."