It’s a day of firsts on the blog today. My first author interview and Jessica Wallace’s first book release (and also interview). Author interviews are a bit strange for me. Asking someone to put down in a few short questions why we should spend our time on something that has taken a large part of their soul to create. But the ability to tap into the strength and passion that led to the book you’re about to read is part of what makes authors so appealing to talk to. (I’m going to be reviewing the book in the next couple weeks.)
Let’s take a quick looksee at the book blurb for Meet You There before we dive into our chat with Jessica.
“Robin Kent doesn’t understand how everyone around her, including her husband, is so certain of everything. The only explanation is that they’re all following the same Guidebook–a copy of which Robin has yet to receive. When a co-worker at her call centre reveals his secret, Robin is sure he’s offering more than just a way out of a depressing job, marking the beginning of a drift from one life to another. An original, inspiring story, Meet You There explores the ties that bind us.”
Your first novel comes out this fall. Can you talk a little about your publishing experience to date? How does publishing a short piece differ from a full length novel?
Well, I remember going to the library and checking out a book of publishers when I was about 10. I’d written a story and it was really long, so I figured someone would probably publish it. And then I’d probably get super famous because I was such a young novelist. My parents had the delicate task of giving me a reality check.
As an adult, I started having my poetry accepted by literary magazines in 2007; short fiction a few years later. There were a lot of excel spreadsheets and rejection letters. The process isn’t that different between novels and shorter work. Send it out. Get rejected. Send it out again.
I stressed out about this list – what would I put on a syllabus if I could choose to teach anything… Yikes. I don’t know why, but I really wanted to come up with something that could actually be used in a classroom. I have a friend who’s an English teacher. I send her book suggestions all the time. I feel like this list is important, even though it’s really just for me. I also didn’t want it to seem like a repeat of the lists I’ve done in the past. I thought about gender roles and female representation. Group mentality. Collective behaviour. Male protagonists. Self-discovery.
What I ended up doing was going through my Goodreads list and jotting down every book I think would be interesting to discuss in a group setting. I then had to whittle the list down a lot. A lot! If I’d let my OCD take over, I would have pulled out my old university syllabuses and went through what I read then to see what fit where, but that’s just too much research for a TTT post.
I finally decided on Death and Dying in Young Adult Fiction. This was one of my favourite sociology courses, and since I like my books dark, it seems appropriate. I’ve listed an initial discussion perspective for each of the books. There are probably deeper levels we would get to through discussion, but this isn’t a real class. It’s just the idea of a class.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Collective behaviour towards torture and death when religion and faith are involved. As well as the treatment of girls involved in crimes related to death. Continue reading
I am on the Tana French soap box. Like standing on the corner preaching at people soap box – French is fabulous. I adore her writing and her style. Broken Harbour is exceptional (can I just say how happy I am to be able to spell harbour properly and not drop the U). It is my favourite of the five. It is exactly what I am looking for in a book. That being said, I would not necessarily recommend her books to people who are fans of traditional crime fiction. She’s not about the plot twist. In fact, her perpetrators are often fairly easy to figure out. If you don’t know early on, when the reveal happens, it just makes sense. But that writing choice serves the books rather than hinders them. And this sentiment is exceptionally true in Broken Harbour. By not concentrating on the who-dun-it part, you get to focus on the why they did it part. As with French’s other novels, this is a psychological review more than a mystery. Madness is a central focus in the novel. Madness brought on by mental illness, genetics, and social pressure.
As always, French brings back a character from one of her previous novels. In BH we’re reintroduced to Scorcher Kennedy, whom we previously met in a small role in Faithful Place. People always says you don’t have to read her books in order. That they aren’t a real series. And that’s kind of true. The characters change from book to book. But the central character in one book is typically part of one of the previous books. Technically, you don’t need to read Faithful Place to read this novel, but I think Kennedy’s character makes more sense if you understand how his career was impacted by the events of that story (just read things in order. They’re written that way for a reason.) In that novel, Kennedy was introduced to us by the cantankerous Frank as kind of a socially-acceptable, stick in the mud, ass who was an excellent, driven cop. And honestly, I don’t think Frank was wrong. Scorcher is going to be one of those characters that people will relate to or they won’t. It all depends on the way you see the world – which is kind of the entire pint of the book. Outwardly, Kennedy is exactly what he is supposed to be. Even inwardly, this is what he is. If he starts to stray from the socially acceptable lifestyle, he is so critical of himself. It is crucial to Scorcher that he embodies the exceptionally normal and successful, especially since he was basically fucked over by the events of Faithful Place. Now he’s trying to get back on track and prove he’s still what everyone thought he was before. To become the image of normalcy again. To prove that he is the guy he’s always shown everyone.
Scorcher’s desire to be normal is driven by his childhood. A mother who struggled with a mental illness in a time when you did not discuss such things publically. It was better for the neighbours to think that their father beat their mother, than to let people know she was struggling. Struggling so much that it eventually drove her to commit suicide on a family vacation. She killed herself in the only place where Kennedy ever felt happy. Where his mother was happy. Where the family didn’t struggle. Where everything was allowed to just relax and breathe for a little while before they returned to faking it. Until the night she picked up the youngest sister and walks into the water. Dina survives, found burrowed in the reeds aside the water, but she’s never the same. To her family, she was a normal, imaginative little girl before the incident. Afterwards, she started acting differently. At first, her responses could probably be attributed to a child suffering from PTSD, but there’s more to it than that. There always was. Dina knew it and I think their mother did to. I think she saw herself in Dina. Saw that Dina was starting to suffer from the same ailments as her. After the suicide, Dina can no longer hide her auditory hallucinations. Continue reading
I’ve wanted to make something Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle related for a while. But I never had the fabric. And my store never carried it. And for some reason, I never included it in my fabric orders. Everything about not being able to make something was my fault.
I honestly can’t really explain why I wanted to make something so much. TMNT was not my favourite thing as a child. I was just on the older side when it came out. And it was my brother’s favourite thing – so that immediately nudged it down my list. And he played that damn video game all the time. All the time. And for a while, the gaming systems were in my bedroom (sneaky, Mom and Dad, I didn’t realize the wisdom of your ways until I was taping it), so I just had to deal with the music and the fighty noises. I remember trying to play it, but I was terrible at it. Like legit terrible. I don’t really remember anything about it, except for the van driving around the screen.
But for some reason, as an adult, I’m drawn to the Turtle stuff – the original animation anyway, not these new versions. There’s something about the way it’s drawn and the vibrant colours that just makes me remember the best parts of being a kid. I liked that the characters had distinct personalities. I think your favourite turtle said something about the person you were going to grow into. I was always a fan of Donatello. I would have made a D dress first, but I didn’t have enough purple fabric. But I had a lot of blue! So instead I made a Leonardo dress. A teeny, tiny, ruffley baby dress. Eventually, I will make one to reflect each of the turtles, but for now, this one is pretty cute.
Okay, I like doing lists, but I’m starting to have a bit of a problem with the TTT topics. They’re beginning to feel repetitive. Authors I own the most books from. Authors I read the most. And now, auto-buy authors. By nature, these lists are going to be pretty similar. If I own a lot of books by someone, I’m probably going to read a lot of their books, and eventually, they’re going to be an auto-buy (I’m using auto-buy to mean that I know I will eventually buy these books, not that I will always buy them before I read them. Rowling is the only one whose books I currently pre-order). Maybe this isn’t as much of a problem when you have multiple blog submitters, but when pulling from just one person’s preferences… well, here’s a list you’ve pretty much read before. I don’t actually have ten authors, so I’ve added a couple that I want to be on this list but I just haven’t gotten around reading all their books yet, so they haven’t quite made it onto my go-to list. Continue reading