A few weeks ago, just after my family and I returned from two months across the pond, the Portland-based writer, Kate Gray, asked me if I’d like to participate in a blog hop. “Sure!” I said (though I wasn’t sure about the definition of “blog hop”). Because, hey, this was the writer Kate Gray writing. And she’s an incredible poet, professor, and cyclist, who volunteers with Write Around Portland, and whose novel CARRY THE SKY is due to hit shelves September 1, 2014. The venerable Powell’s Books will host the release party for CARRY THE SKY on Friday, September 5 at 7:30 pm. If you are in the Portland area, I encourage you to attend. I, for one, am considering crossing more than half the country to get there. Because I can’t wait to get my hands on CARRY THE SKY. And carry it. And read it, too.
Back to the blog hop. Upon my “Sure!”, Kate clued me in to its nature. Turns out the hop was instigated by M. Allen Cunningham, who is the visionary behind Atelier26, a small-press publisher in Portland, the author of two novels, The Green Age of Asher Witherow, which was chosen as a Book Sense pick in 2004, and Lost Son, a creative writing handbook, The Honorable Obscurity Handbook, and a collection of short stories, Date of Disappearance. At the inception of the blog hop, Mark highlighted a number of authors (including Kate Gray), and gave them 7 questions which they answered about their novels by a certain deadline. On that day those authors posted their responses to those 7 questions on their own blogs, and then, they highlighted more authors (including me), who then have a deadline to respond on their blogs to the same 7 questions. Mark told Kate it’s like a chain letter but much “less irksome.”
For which I am grateful. Because I’ve always found chain letters irksome. And then some.
But I assure you this blog hop hasn’t been irksome at all. It’s been a pleasure to read about the work of the other writers tagged in the process. For example, you can read Kate’s responses here, and follow links to the other authors from there!
And here is where you can read about the work of the other novelist tagged by Kate, a writer by the name of Trevor Dodge, whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Hobart, Gobshite Quarterly, Metazen, Western Humanities Review, Golden Handcuffs Review, Gargoyle, Notre Dame Review, Natural Bridge and Fiction International, and whose most recent collection of 60 flash fiction pieces, The Laws of Average, has just released: http://trevordodge.com
And now, without further ado: here are my 7 responses related to my recently released novel, SING FOR ME:
1. What is your character’s name? Is she or he fictional or a historic person?
Rose Sorensen is the central character of the novel. When the book opens, it’s February, 1937, and Rose has just turned twenty-one. Until this point in life, her character has been defined by the roles she plays in certain, significant relationships: she is the daughter of Danish immigrants; the middle sister to two complicated siblings; and a “good girl” the Danish Baptist Church. Give the fact that Rose’s household has been economical devastated by the Depression, Rose is also responsible for providing financial support to her family. Over the course of the novel, Rose realizes that she has desires other than those that have been dictated to her, and she begins to test the boundaries of her life, exploring forbidden neighborhoods and realizing suppressed gifts.
While aspects of Rose are inspired by people I’ve known, she is not a historical figure. She’s a fictional character who has evolved over the fifteen years I’ve been working on her story.
2. What should we know about him or her?
Rose loves to sing, but she has been raised to think that she must only sing certain songs, in certain contexts, to certain people. One of the people to whom she sings is her younger sister, Sophy, who has cerebral palsy, and whose existence significantly influences Rose’s.
3. When and where is the story set?
Chicago, 1937. The West Side, around Garfield Park, and the South Side, especially Bronzeville and Hyde Park. The Loop and the Chicago suburb of Oak Park also factor as settings.
4. What are the characters’ personal goals?
All the characters have specific goals, but for the sake of this post I’ll speak to Rose’s. She wants to embrace forbidden gifts and forbidden loves, but she fears that she will have to sacrifice everything and everyone she has known in order to do so.
5. What is the main conflict? What messes up the characters’ lives?
Without giving away too much, and hoping I don’t sound too pretentious, I’ll say that conflicts related to culture, gender, and race converge to challenge Rose’s desires.
6. What is this novel’s title, and can we read more about it?
The novel is called SING FOR ME, and you can find out more about it here: http://www.amazon.com/Sing-Me-Karen-Halvorsen-Schreck/dp/1476705488
7. When can we expect the book to be published?
SING FOR ME came out in April, 2014. I’m hard at work on another book—more to come on this soon!
But before I get back to work, here’s more about the authors I’ve chosen to tag in the blog hop, who will be publishing their blog hop posts, and tagging still other writers, on July 9th.
Julie Cantrell is the New York Times Bestselling Author of not just one, but two award-winning novels: Into the Free and When Mountains Move. Julie has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She and her family live in Mississippi, where they operate Valley House Farm. When I first read Into the Free, I thought: I’d read anything by this author. And I stand true to my word. Like Kate Gray, Julie’s that wonderful, rare combination of poet and storyteller, and I’d follow her language anywhere, down, in fact, to her very last punctuation mark.
Margaret Phillbrick is a writer, teacher, and gardener, whose novel, A Minor, was just released by Koehler Books in April, 2014. A Minor is a beautiful love story exploring the power of music to bring spiritual and emotional healing to those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. And Koehler Books has done some thing beautiful and unusual with the ebook of A Minor: they’ve created a unique literary-musical experience that allows readers to listen to pieces as they occur during the story.
Keep on hopping!