This reading group guide for Moonlight on Linoleum includes a conversation with author Terry Helwig. We hope this Q&A will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
A CONVERSATION WITH TERRY HELWIG
Moonlight on Linoleum reads almost like a novel in many sections. How did you reconstruct these long-ago scenes in such vivid detail? What steps did you take in recreating the dialogue? Did you find that once you started writing you remembered more than you expected to?
A memoir is, ultimately, the true story of a protagonist. Scene and dialogue are important aspects of any story—fact or fiction. My memory of numerous vivid scenes from childhood caused me to approach my memoir slightly differently. Instead of creating scenes that told a story, I tried to uncover the story running beneath my scenes.
I wondered why, out of the millions of minutes of my childhood, I remembered some scenes and details vividly and others not at all.
What made those moments memorable? As an exercise, I wrote my memories on sticky notes and arranged them in chronological order on the inside door of a closet. The beginnings of my narrative flowed from those yellow pieces of paper.
I noted that many of my memories accompanied an emotional charge—love, abandonment, awe, disgust, fear, excitement, bewilderment. For example, when the German shepherd bit me in the schoolyard, th