Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy

February 18, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Filed under: General — Vadasmaker @ 9:51 pm

My generous and very talented friend, Garry Craig Powell, tagged me to participate in this project—The Next Big Thing—a sort of round-robin designed to make our work known to new audiences. Garry teaches at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas, and is the author of the well-received (and rightly so) book, Stoning the Devil. You can access his blog at and read his answers to these same questions or simply wander about his blog and see what you might find of interest.

What is your working title of your book (or story)?

The working title of my current novel is Silk and Ashes. It’s sure to change, because I suck at titles.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea originated in the responses to my first novel, Everlasting. That novel followed Vada Priddy, who, in 1949 Oklahoma, married a man 20 years her senior at the age of 14 at the insistence of her mother, Esther Louise. Esther Louise, although appearing in only a few scenes in the novel, seemed to strike a universal chord in readers—mostly loathing and disgust. While my intentions were to make her unlikeable, I didn’t foresee that kind of response from readers. Once I became aware of it, I saw their point and began to wonder what it was that made her the woman she was. And by “wonder,” I mean I became obsessed with it. Finally, I could do nothing but start to explore that character.

What genre does your book fall under?

I’ve wrestled with that. While it is historical, the time period doesn’t seem to play a big enough part for the book to be called “historical fiction,” so I guess it falls into the ubiquitous “mainstream” category, or, even less specific, “literary fiction.”

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

As if. However, in case that ever were to happen, I think either Bryce Dallas Howard or Amy Yasbeck would be a fitting choice. If I die before the movie is made, please see that my wishes are carried out.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

My philosophy has always been “Why use one word when 750 will do,” so that’s a tough one. As a matter of fact, it’s tough enough to be impossible. I will, however, entertain one-sentence synopsis ideas from those who’ve read the draft thus far.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will not be self-published. If it’s not good enough to be published by someone who believes in it, it’s not good enough to be published. Period. Whether I’ll have an agent or not remains to be seen.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ll tell you when I finish. I was almost 300 pages into the first draft when, at the suggestion of my advisors in the Red Earth MFA program, I went back to the beginning and began rewriting, going from third person to first. They were right—it works much better in first person.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Maybe Jewel, by Bret Lott, or Harpsong, by Rilla Askew. If it’s half the book those are, I’ll be a happy camper.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Just the need to satisfy my curiosity about the origins of a character who provoked such strong feelings from readers of my other work. I was well into the first draft, however, when I found I had written myself into a corner. No way could the character I was working on be Esther Louise, not in the chronology I had set up. I was stymied for a while, until it occurred to me—again, with the help of my advisors in the Red Earth MFA program—that there was no reason I had to be writing about her. That realization gave me the freedom I didn’t know I was lacking.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Perhaps the fact that I’ve tried to stay true to the place and time in which it’s set, and the fact that the character is so complex—more complex than I am—and was so challenging to create. I think sometimes I’m in over my head with this one.


1 Comment »

  1. In over your head? Don’t be silly! Can you create something you don’t have? How is that possible? I like these questions and your answers.
    You bringing your class to TNW tonight?


    Comment by ponytail girl — February 19, 2013 @ 8:37 am | Reply

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