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May 18, 2015

Here’s how I know novelist Cynthia Kraack is a top-flight author: Coming off publication of the final book in her generations-spanning, speculative fiction trilogy Ashwood, she has written a new book that is completely different than what preceded it but maintains echoes of what made the Ashwood series so compelling: family, family and more family. In The High Cost of Flowers, Kraack presents us with the Kemper family. They’re just like your family and mine, except the author gives the reader access to all of their secrets, warts and all.

CYNTHIA KRAACK interview excerpt: "The character of Art Kemper in some ways was inspired by my Dad. My mother did, in fact, have a series of strokes. And watching him care for her and (exhibit) all the patience and long devotion to a spouse. We've also had some unhealthy relationships with alcohol in our family, as well. And the Catholicism. My folks were very strong Catholics. That's about where the similarities between my family and the Kempers in 'The High Cost of Flowers' stop."

Art Kemper, who realizes he can no longer provide home care for his alcoholic, Alzheimer’s stricken wife, Katherine. We also meet their three children, the estranged eldest daughter, the emotionally detached middle son who is ever present but not to anyone’s advantage, and the youngest daughter, who can only survive the day – any day – with the help of mother’s little helpers and a few ounces to wash it down. Oh, and each of the Kemper children has children of their own. This is a story that can be a tough read in that it is so close to the boiling depths of family hell, yet it is a page-turner thanks to the deft plotting, intricate details, and sharply written dialogue by the remarkable Cynthia Kraack.

CYNTHIA KRAACK interview excerpt: "It is so absorbing to watch family and neighbors go through that end of the adult parent's ability to be independent. Man, it just seems to pull them out of normal living for however long it takes."

And by fortunate coincidence, Cynthia is joining us the morning after receiving not one but two awards for her latest novel – “Best Literary Fiction” and “Best Contemporary Fiction” – from the Midwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Midwest Independent Book Publishers Association. There are very good reasons that this is Cynthia Kraack’s fourth appearance on Mr. Media. And I guarantee you there will be more.

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