Anene Tressler

About Anene (Visit her blog here, and scroll down to read praise for DANCING WITH GRAVITY.)

We’re thrilled that DANCING WITH GRAVITY made the St. Louis Post-Dispatch round up of favorite books of 2011.Check it out here: Best Books List

Anene’s official bio:

Anene Tressler’s award-winning fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous publications, including Best of Writers at Work anthology, The Distillery, Treasure House, Currents, River Blossom and Word Wright’s. Dancing with Gravity, her first novel, was the International Book Awards 2011 winner for Literary Fiction. Her other professional awards include  broadcast television Emmys, the International Film and Television Festival of New York, Silver and Bronze Telly Awards for corporate productions, international and national prizes including International Association of Business Communicators’ Gold and Bronze Quills, a Saint Louis Advertising Federation Addy, Platinum and Gold Auroras, Pen Daltons, international Flame and Axiem awards, and other prestigious honors. She is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. She co-owns a small company specializing in corporate writing for print, film/video production and meetings.

She has studied with Tom Franklin at the Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers, Richard Bausch at Johns Hopkins, Nicholas Delbanco at Breadloaf, Claire Messud at Sewanee, Lorrie Moore at Vermont Studio Center, and Robert Olmstead at Rappahannnock. She also attended two workshops at the University of Iowa’s summer program and spent a month at Wellspring House in Massachusetts.

She lives in Kirkwood, Missouri with her husband and an ever-growing assortment of cats and dogs.

About Dancing with Gravity

“Whether we love–or fail to love–there is always a cost.” – Nikolai

Father Whiting is asleep in his own life. As a St. Louis priest and the head of Pastoral Care at a local teaching hospital, he’s already on edge wondering if he’s up to the job and wondering how far his predecessor’s–and now his–secretary will go to sabotage him. He is fatigued by his mother’s increasingly erratic behavior, fears he is incapable of ministering to an old friend and fellow priest stricken with cancer, and secretly longs to share everything about his confused, mixed-up life with the very attractive Sarah James, the hospital’s head of public relations. When he overhears a heated argument between the Chairman of the Board and the Abbess who runs the hospital, he fears his job will soon be history. Instead, he finds himself tapped to minister to a small Central American circus bequeathed to an order of aging nuns in St. Louis. Through his deepening relationship with Nikolai, the enigmatic trapeze artist, Whiting wakes to his loneliness, realizes he has been living a half-life, and finally finds the courage to be the man he was meant to be.

In Dancing with Gravity, Anene Tressler, an Emmy Award-winning writer, paints an unforgettable portrait of the grand and petty motivations of the human heart. Her poignant exploration of lost, unrecognized and courageous love will prompt you to consider your own journey toward purpose and fulfillment.

Read an excerpt.

Praise for Dancing with Gravity

>> Father Whiting’s path to self-discovery brought to mind for me a line from John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem Maud Muller: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, It might have been!” – Elizabeth White – Musings of an All Purpose Monkey

>> It was engaging. I stayed up late reading. I couldn’t put it down. In short, I absolutely adored this book … I rooted for and identified with him [Father Whiting]. In fact, I became him, to the extent that that’s possible, for the duration of the book. I’m not sure how the author did it (her exquisite writing helped), but she temporarily transformed me into a circus-loving priest. – Suko’s Notebook

>> At times shocking and at other times eloquently understated, Tressler’s tale of Whiting’s journey of self-discovery while tending to the spiritual needs of a circus is both unique and engaging. On more than one occasion I was brought to tears by Tressler’s descriptions of events in Whiting’s life over course of the book; and her descriptions of the Circus of The Little Flower’s performances were so detailed at times that I felt like I was in the audience of the quaint one ring circus. – The Well-Read Wife

>> Anene Tressler rates a salute for her willingness to take a chance … few readers are likely to forget Father Sam in a hurry … an interesting journey. – Harry Levins, St. Louis Post Dispatch

>>Anene Tressler has created a fascinating hero in Father Whiting, a study in self-absorption, self-doubt, and social clumsiness. Not the ideal priestly profile, but as I read this sad and funny novel, I cared deeply about his fate, especially when his heart leads him into uncharted emotional waters. The author, a gifted stylist with a keen eye for human frailty, charts the path of Whiting’s confused longing with a sure hand. A lively, engaging read. – David Carkeet, author of six novels including From Away

>> …one of the most remarkable descriptions of a priest’s interior life as I have read. In short, Fr. Samuel Whiting haunts me. – Fr. Craig T. Holway, Associate Pastor, Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church

>> Mentally draining, thought-provoking, and utterly fascinating are the descriptions that come to mind after reading Anene Tressler’s Dancing with Gravity.  An International Book Awards 2011 Literary Fiction Winner, Dancing with Gravity immerses the reader into the novel through rich descriptions (some of which caused giggling on my part):

“Whiting took his ice cream and stepped over to the trash barrel to unwrap it.  The wafer stuck to the paper so that each time he lifted a piece of the wrapper, it tore.  Tiny strips stuck to his fingers.  Ice cream dripped down his hands;  he leaned over the trashcan to avoid dripping anything on his jacket.  He tasted paper and spit it out.  As he unwound the sandwich, a large chunk broke off and fell into the barrel.  He tossed the remainder into the can in disgust and looked around for a napkin or water to rinse his hands” (161) and clever use of vocabulary, “He knew the parents wanted him to respond, but his words were stillborn”  (136).

>> As you get to know Father Whiting, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry–or both. He expends so much mental energy dissecting every word, second-guessing every glance, and analyzing every movement that he becomes isolated within a world of his own creation. Whiting is aggravting, exhausting, and sometimes you just want to reach into the book, slap him around, and yell, “Stop that!” Despite–or because of–his interior struggles, Whiting is a sympathetic character that you can’t help but love. Ultimately, his petty anxieties, his lonliness, his desire to love and his longing to feel alive are all about his search for meaning and purpose. Watching him rebel against that isolation and slowly come to know himself and the world around him is a revelation. – Kathy J. Smith, BSP Editorial Board Member