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How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly - Connie May Fowler (Blog Tour & Guest Post)

How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly is the transcendent story of a young woman who, in a twenty-four hour period, journeys through startling moments of self-discovery that lead her to a courageous and life-altering decision.

Author Bio:
Connie May Fowler is an essayist, screenwriter, and novelist. She is the author of five novels, most recently The Problem with Murmur Lee, and a memoir, When Katie Wakes. In 1996, she published Before Women Had Wings, which became a paperback bestseller and was made into a successful Oprah Winfrey Presents movie. She founded the Connie May Fowler Women With Wings Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding women and children in need.


Author Guest Post:
First let me say, Freda, I love your blog! The teaser concept is fabulous. It stirs up so much interest in the books and gets people talking with one another. You’ve created community on the Internet and to that I say, Bravo! Bravo!
You asked me how I got the idea write How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, what it is “really about,” and why I want the story to be heard.
Two main things prompted me to write the novel. The first was that I had a very difficult time dealing with my crumbling marriage, the divorce, and its aftermath. I talked to a lot of people—women and men—and they all felt similarly and had experienced long-lasting levels of despair. Very few of them, however, felt comfortable giving voice to their feelings because we live in a get over it society. I realized that folks tended to stuff all that pain, anger, and frustration deep inside themselves so that they could, as they were being told, get on with their lives. And to me, that amounts to an untended garden; before you know it, sandspurs are popping up everywhere.
So I wanted to write a novel about a woman who finds herself in a wasteland of a marriage but can’t find her way out. I mean, most of us try our hardest to make our marriages work. We don’t blithely walk away. But sometimes we wait so long we can’t find the door. That’s the predicament Clarissa is in. And because she was an abused child, she has more patience than she should with maltreatment.
The second inspiration for the book occurred about five years ago when I was researching pre-Civil War Florida history. I came across information about the Florida Land Purchase Treaty of 1819. Florida was a Spanish Colony and under Spanish rule, women and black citizens of La Florida could own land and black males could sit on juries; slavery was deeply discouraged. By contrast, in the American territories slavery was flourishing and women and blacks had virtually no civil rights. The treaty set forth that two years hence, America would take control of Florida. That meant that with a stroke of a pen—a real estate deal—the civil rights of a goodly portion of Floridians vanished. People most likely didn’t even know that their rights had been stripped away until someone stole their land or slapped them in shackles or both. This haunted me. I began to create what would become the ghost family of Olga Villada, her husband Amaziah Archer, and their son Heart Archer.
But I wanted a contemporary story so I decided upon Clarissa Burden, a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who is in deep need of relief. I like the way Clarissa’s contemporary story plays out over the course of a 24-hour period in tandem to the building resolution the Villada-Archer’s experience. It was fun for me to write about a character—Clarissa—who suffers from a nearly deadly case of writer’s block because I work desperately everyday not to believe in such a malady. Clarissa’s journey toward freedom from a petty tyrant tracks closely with the other sorts of freedom the other characters in the book seek. And I think that because we can all identify with being trapped in one way or another, her eventual ascension is something we can all cheer about and learn from.
If you’d like to read more about How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, you can find tons of info on my website:
And again, Freda, thanks so much! Happy reading!

More Tour Stops Today:

My Opinion:
I have so many emotions after finishing the book, that I think I liked it, but really don't know where I stand.
Clarissa Burden is a character I relate to all too well. I was in an abusive relationship once, and it tore my world apart. Reading the emotional sacrifice she made by being with her husband, hit home with me.
Her husband is one of those characters you hate from the start. He is so awful, the other characters in the book hate him.
The story the author told was one that should be told, over and over again, until women realize they don't live in the age of settling anymore. We as women need to stand up for ourselves, even to our big, bad husbands.
The one thing I didn't about the writing style was getting off point to describe redundant things. I would point particulars out but then I would spoil the book. Let's just say a little too descriptive for me.
All-in-all, this was a good book, but for a recommendation, I'm not sure. Not everyone would appreciate the story since it's nature is violence on women. I do think it is quite worth the read though.

~I received a copy from Hatchette Book Group. I was not compensated for my opinion.~


  1. Thank you so much for asking me to guest post on your blog and for taking the time to read and review How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly. If any of your readers are in book clubs, I'm happy to meet with them via Skype. They can learn more about the book at And I just finished my first ever book trailer! You can view it at

    Thanks again and happy reading!

  2. I've been seeing this book in various places for the past couple of weeks and was curious about it. While I have never experienced any type of abusive relationship I have known women who have. This is one I think I would like to read.


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