Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Sarah-Jane Stratford | 20 Questions: RED LETTER DAYS
Author Guest / February 26, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release?  Red Letter Days 2–What is it about?  Two American women escape the Hollywood blacklist for England, where they are able to continue working and remain free, but find that they still aren’t as safe as they hope. It’s also very much about love, passion for work, resilience, friendship, and maintaining a sense of self and humour in the face of adversity. 3–What word best describes your main character(s)?  Plucky. 4–What makes your story relatable?  To my vexation, it is getting more relatable by the day, what with accusations of “communist”, right-wing attacks on the arts, and attempts to purge anyone who doesn’t tow the party line from the government. Also attempts to sequester passports from citizens, deny citizenship – you get the idea. But what matters is that then, as now, more people are pushing back and standing up for what is right. The political parallels aside, the story will also speak to anyone who has had a passion and pursued it; or found themselves alone and reached out to find friends they might not have expected to become part of their lives. And anyone who has ever fallen in love and found…

Kimmery Martin | 20 Questions: THE ANTIDOTE FOR EVERYTHING
Author Guest / February 17, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release? The Antidote for Everything 2–What is it about?  It tells the story of what goes spectacularly wrong in the deep friendship between a woman named Georgia (a urologist) and a man named Jonah (a family medicine doctor) after one of them is unjustly fired. 3–What word best describes your main character(s)?  Bullheaded 4–What makes your story relatable? I think we are all tuned in to the concept of friendship as a fundamental human relationship, maybe even more so than family in certain ways, since friendships are voluntary and self-selected. But also the novel poses the question of who should get to make medical decisions: politicians? Administrators? Or doctors and patients? And what is a justifiable response to injustice? 5–Who are the people your main characters turn to when they need help?  I have two main characters and there is no question: they turn to one another. Neither of them has close family and they have the magical kind of friendship where they are completely comfortable with each other. There’s no artifice, no self-censoring, no fear of abandonment between them. 6–What do you love about the setting of your book? It’s set in Charleston…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: CAMILLE PAGAN
Author Guest / February 15, 2020

Jen: What inspired your latest release, This Won’t End Well? Camille: For my fortieth birthday, my husband, two children, and I went to Paris. It was an amazing trip. We stayed in a magical apartment in Montmartre that had sweeping views of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. We couldn’t have found a bad meal if we tried, and we managed to do just enough sightseeing to make the most of the vacation without burning ourselves out. But eight days is a lot of family time–especially for a writer used to spending long stints alone in front of her computer. By the day after my birthday, I’d had so much togetherness that I felt like I couldn’t hear myself think. My husband, bless him, quickly realized this and volunteered to take our kids to a park on the Seine so I could go for a walk by myself. I was strolling along the river, thinking about what a feat it is to successfully manage relationships–even, or maybe especially, when they’re with the people you love most–when a single sentence popped into my head: Hello seems like such an innocuous word, but it’s really a portal to loss.  Which is, of course,…

Annie England Noblin | My Top 5 Favorite Dogs in Pop Culture
Author Guest / January 17, 2020

1–Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: Okay, this movie absolutely had to be #1. It came out when I was 11-years-old, and it still stands as my favorite animal movie ever made. As a kid, I loved the movie because I thought Chance, the naughty and juvenile American Bulldog was hilarious. As an adult, I appreciate the way the character of Chance was portrayed—as a smart, goofy, lovable guy who needed to learn how to trust, and that they chose to make Chance an American Bulldog, which put the breed in a positive light. But the real kicker in this movie is the ending, when Shadow, the elderly Golden Retriever comes up over that hill, and his human, Billy, runs to him as Shadow says, “Oh, Peter! I worried about you so!” Oh my gosh, I cry every single time. Old dogs are the best, man. They’re the best. 2–All Dogs Go to Heaven: I’d just turned 8 when this movie came out in 1989, and my parents took me to the movie theater to see it for my birthday. This movie is actually pretty dark for a kid’s show, though. Dead dogs, orphaned girls, murderous casino owners, and the threat…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels: FOLLOWERS by Megan Angelo
Author Guest / January 10, 2020

Jen: What inspired you to write Followers, a futuristic novel about an internet-obsessed world? Megan: The original kernel was me thinking about how my kids and grandkids won’t be able to read cursive, and wanting to explore a futuristic story that would be more about those human differences than straight up tech and sci-fi. But as I got further into the book, it became clear to me that social media was the thread that held everything together–I knew I had to push what we have today to its limits, imagine how that could blow up, and sort of clean up the mess that would follow. I wanted to show not just what could happen if social media really ruined us but also who we’d be, as a people, afterwards, and how we’d approach technology again once we’d been burned by it en masse. The story focuses on the friendship of three women. Let’s start by discussing Orla. What challenges does she encounter in the workplace? Orla wants to be this famous writer, and she’s frustrated by the fact that she’s stuck writing about celebrities, trying to gin up Internet content about them. She thinks her job is real bottom-feeder stuff….

Abbigail N. Rosewood | Exclusive Excerpt: IF I HAD TWO LIVES
Author Guest / October 11, 2019

We started to plan our escape. Exactly what prompted our decision, I wasn’t sure, only we didn’t like that the old black and blues on our bodies didn’t fade completely before new ones were pressed on top of them. We started to fear that if we stayed, our skin would eventually turn a dark purple, an ill-fitting shade for us both. Boyfriends would be nearly impossible then. The beatings, different in the way they were administered and in the reasons why, looked the same on our skin. After having gone out with my soldier, I confirmed to the little girl that our camp wasn’t completely isolated. When we broke out of the camp, we would follow the river upstream to town. There was a market and a shack with a mean boy as a guard. I didn’t think he would let us stay there. We would have to beg or sell lottery tickets until we had enough for a bus pass to the city. Unlike in our usual games, we didn’t think about the what-ifs, the endless ways we could fail. Failure to make it out of the camp: get caught, get lost, or starve. I feared a great number…

Karen Hawkins | Five Types of Magic We All Need
Author Guest / August 7, 2019

Those of you who’ve read my work know I frequently write about magic (the Maclean Curse and Talisman Ring Series), and now I’m beginning an entirely new, contemporary magic realism series. THE BOOK CHARMER is my newest book and it’s about a woman who is one of seven sisters, each with their own magical ability. Sarah Dove’s magic is that she can talk to books … and they can talk back, too, which is super helpful as she’s a librarian and so knows which book belongs with which reader. If I could have a magical power, I’d want Sarah’s because I can imagine of no power so wonderful as seeing a reader’s face light up as they read a book they love. Which is why I put it first in my list of FIVE TYPES OF MAGIC WE ALL NEED: 1. The magic of the right book at the right time. You know how it happens — there you are, dealing with something personal and heavy, when you find yourself lost in a book that gives you a deep sense of comfort. Sometimes the book dwells on the same issue you’re struggling with and gives you fresh ideas of how to handle…

Frank Strausser | PLASTIC: A Novelist’s Double Vision
Author Guest / July 9, 2019

Although the drama in my novel PLASTIC centers around a disfigured pop star and the plastic surgeon who is brought in ostensibly to restore her looks, yet realizes he’s there to erase evidence of a crime, it’s easy to forget that PLASTIC is also about a marriage on the rocks. You say, what? My intention had always been to make my high-flying Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Harold Previn hit bottom after his wife Helen Burke, decides he isn’t the man she fell in love with and walks out on him. This to me was the ultimate sign of how “lost” Previn is as the novel begins. I wanted to pose the question, could he redeem himself in Helen’s eyes? That to me was the ultimate measure of the journey he was on. But many readers come to a Hollywood conspiracy story like mine expecting just that, a by the numbers crime drama. So how to amplify the marital crisis without losing the reader? That was the challenge. And while it might be argued that subplots reinforce the main plot, it’s always a delicate balance. The crime genre has its particular demands. I’m reminded about how in his day John…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: AMY MASON DOAN
Author Guest , Interviews , Jen's Jewels / June 14, 2019

Summer reads are my favorite kind of books. Being able to relax on the beach or sip sweet tea poolside with a new release in hand is what I look forward to all year. This month’s jewel, Amy Mason Doan, could not agree more. Her latest work, Summer Hours, is a novel about friendship, love, and ambition set in the mid ‘90s and 2008. Sometimes the path to achieving life’s dreams can be a little rocky as depicted in this thought-provoking book filled with hope and forgiveness. Go ahead, and grab a cold lemonade and get to know the superbly talented author behind the story, Amy Mason Doan.   What inspires you to write novels set in summertime? Summer seems like this lazy, golden season, but I think that’s deceptive. The summer months can be surprisingly intense. Summer is when we reinvent ourselves; I don’t think I’ve ever shaken off my shock over classmates who came back to school in September completely transformed. My mom has this long frame in her bedroom with a bunch of my pre-teen and teen yearbook photos in it. It’s held together with gold hinges, and I stare at it every time I visit her. I…

Dori Ann Dupre | Exclusive Excerpt: GOOD BUDDY
Author Guest / June 14, 2019

Christmas Eve Buddy was looking forward to this Christmas unlike any other Christmas in his entire life. Christmas growing up in Texas was exciting like it is for any kid. That is, until Kenny started to drink and beat his mother and just generally be an asshole to everyone…ruining their family. Then Christmas wasn’t so much fun anymore. It was just a short break from the loud, sad, horror show that seemed to hijack his interrupted childhood. Christmas, after arriving in North Carolina, seemed to be okay, but it took a while for Buddy and his mother to make their own new traditions for the holiday. They were living someone else’s life at that point, and so they were doing someone else’s traditions. They had no family to speak of, no one to go visit, no one to come visit them, no one to send Christmas cards to…not even to the nice ladies they met in New Mexico. There was no receiving a gift in the mail, such as a dress shirt that didn’t fit quite right, from Daniel Junior’s Uncle Frank and Aunt Nikki. It was a strange holiday now. Just – nothing, empty, voided – but with reds…