Author Interview: Gary D. Wilson, Getting Right

Hey guys! Today I’m hosting author Gary D. Wilson for an interview! Let me tell you more about his latest book GETTING RIGHT before you check out our interview.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Getting RightPublisher: Roundfire Books // Publication Date: January 29, 2016

Getting Right, Gary Wilson’s eagerly-anticipated second novel, is a masterful fusion of imagination and memory. Although this powerful family drama is drawn from close personal experience, the story that emerges is far more moving than any purely factual account could ever be.

Suppose, for instance, that your more than mildly irritating leech of a sister calls you, as she usually does wanting money, only this time she says she has cancer and in the course of the conversation challenges you to write the story of her life. You say, sure, you’ll do that…but only on the condition that you can tell it the way you see it.

The novel starts with the sister, Connie, and soon involves brother Len and “me,” the sibling narrator who discovers that Connie’s story isn’t so simple after all.  In order to tell it, “me” realizes that he has to include the accounts of other family members as well. By the end, the escalating swirl of memory and imagination leaves open the question of whether the truth of Connie’s life – or of anyone’s for that matter – can ever be known.

Getting Right is a tale of love and loss, leavened with humor, that readers will no doubt take directly to heart as they recognize themselves and their own families in it.

Goodreads | Amazon

THE INTERVIEW

Describe yourself in 6 words.

Loveable, creative, smart, funny, loyal, cantankerous.

Describe your book in 6 words.

Original, engaging, worthwhile, droll, energetic, moving.

How did the story of Getting Right develop?

I went to the hospital to visit my sister who had undergone surgery for lung cancer.  She had a PICC line in her arm, and the skin around the entry point of the line had puckered in such a way that it looked like a mouth.  That image haunted me, even after I returned home, so much so that I decided to write it out of my system, which only led to more writing and more writing, until I found myself in the midst of a new novel with a new voice and vision that was so compelling I couldn’t stop, despite the fact that I was deep into writing another novel I simply had to put aside until I finished this new one.

What is the best memory from your journey to becoming an author?

“Best” is a difficult concept in this question, since I have lots of memories.  But one that the question conjures up is of me as a young boy sitting on the floor beside my grandfather as he told some story about his family living so far back in the hills of Arkansas (or Missouri or Virginia) that you had to travel three days by grapevine to visit them.  And there were always fishing stories or stories about his days as a section chief on the railroad.  And there were ones about his tomatoes or the proper way to wrap and store fresh-picked pears.  What I came to realize as I got older was that for Grandpa the story—not the subject matter—was the thing.  It was the telling that he loved.  The power that a well-told story had to capture and hold an audience.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

Physically, I try to maintain a fairly strict work schedule.  I get up, have coffee and a light breakfast and read two newspapers (an old, unbreakable habit) before going to my study to clear emails and my head and get down to my work.  Writing may involve pacing, bathroom breaks, more coffee and so on, but as a friend says, real writing takes a lot of butt in the chair time.  I try to maintain that for four or so hours.  I then have lunch and read the funnies and take a break for errands or shopping for the night’s dinner.

Mentally, I let whatever it is I’m writing take me where it wants.  I believe it was Stephen King who said the story is boss.  I try to remember that.  I was writing another novel when Getting Right took over my life.  I couldn’t ignore it and went along for the ride.  I’m now finally getting back to the book I was pulled away from.

Many times something I’ve read or heard or seen will generate a new story or novel.  It’s not that I actively say, oh that’d make a great story.  But whatever the impetus is gets inside me and roils around and eventually comes out as writing, and I let it.  At that point I become an active participant in the process.

What’s been your best experience as an author so far? 

Every author I know likes being published, so there’s that.  But what I like from that experience is to hear readers’ honest reactions to my work, even if it isn’t all positive.  It’s not only a rush but gratifying to think I’m in a business where I can actually move someone, intellectually and/or emotionally.

Being part of a writing community—and on a larger scale, an arts community—has been a wonderful experience for me as well.  The people I know in that community are not only smart, they’re also engaged in life and are generally engaging as people.

I ask this of everyone – what’s your favorite book? 

That’s such a hard question, but if I have to say just one, it’s Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, a book that, by taking on life at its most absurd, helped define the human condition.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about you or your book?

I would like to invite anyone who’s interested to visit my website at www.garydwilson.com to find out more about me and my work.  You might also want to take a look at my blog on that site.  And, of course, I’d like for you to read my writing and let me know what you think.

ABOUT GARY

Gary WilsonGARY D. WILSON’s best-selling first novel, Sing, Ronnie Blue, appeared in 2007. He has taught fiction and short story writing at both Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago. His work has been recommended for a Pushcart Prize, and he was a finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Award and the Drue Heinz Literary Prize. He currently lives with his wife in Chicago and is working on his next novel The Narrow Window.

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In which I explain my absence

Hey guys! I realized today that I haven’t had a post on the blog since last Wednesday, and I felt I should give you an explanation.

Before last week, I’d been sick – with what felt like allergy/sinus stuff because of the stupid Mississippi weather – so I went to the doctor on Tuesday. And she sent me to the hospital. Woohoo. UGH. She said my asthma was exacerbated and my oxygen levels were low. I won’t go into too many details but the hospital visit was horrendous (the nurse pretty much badgered me; I was on observation but they only actually checked on me TWICE IN EIGHT HOURS; I had a blood test and three hours later someone else came to do a blood test because these people don’t communicate and he had no idea I’d already had one; I could go on and on). The doctor wanted me to stay the night and get some other tests but I asked to leave and he let me (NOT against medical advice).

The next day I was home waiting for that crappy hospital to forward my blood test results over to my normal doc so she could assess what needed to be done.

Turns out I didn’t need any of those tests anyway, and in the end, I had exacerbated asthma and chronic anemia (which stems from having an autoimmune disorder like alopecia). My doc gave me a prescription for some meds and breathing treatments through a nebulizer, and I am finally getting better. I can finally BREATHE again. Normally.

I know part of this happened because I wasn’t taking care of my asthma like I should, so I’m getting better at that. I’m taking iron for the anemia (just to tell you how low my iron was – one step down from the level I was at and I would’ve needed a blood transfusion. Yikes). I’m feeling good. So even though I had a horrible hospital visit, my doctor has helped. Yay! And the meds have definitely helped.

BUT (other than tomorrow where I already have a post scheduled) I’m going to take the rest of the week off. I’ll be back on Monday with our regularly scheduled programming, everyone, but I need a few more days to continue getting better and to focus (because other than this issue I’ve also been REALLY restless and agitated because of it, but that will be getting fixed this weekend with a roadtrip to Atlanta!).

So I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week, and I’ll see you on Monday. ❤ ❤

Waiting on Wednesday: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

A Gathering of Shadows FinalPublisher: Tor

Author: V.E. Schwab

Release date: February 23, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

Why I’m excited: MORE KELL. MORE LILA. MORE LONDONS. MORE MAGIC. MORE RHY. I fell in love with V.E. Schwab’s A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC more than a year ago and I cannot wait to get more of this world and its fantastic characters. Plus, we finally get to meet Black London, which is both terrifying and exhilarating. I am so exciting for A GATHERING OF SHADOWS. I even pre-ordered it, and there’s only a few books I pre-order. So soon, you guys! SO. SOON.

Top Ten Tuesday: Songs that should be books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

This week is all about music & books. We previously did books we’d give theme songs toso feel free to do that! Or 10 songs I wish that were books (check out my love songs I wish were booksfor an example of what I mean) — Thanks to the couple people who suggested making this one an official topic. I don’t know why I hadn’t…I think I thought my post WAS for TTT in my head when I thought back to it.

Run by AWOLNATION | Spotify Link

Yes. The whole album. I was going to try to pick one song on there, but I think that whole album is a story that would make a perfect book. Just listen to Run or Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) or Headrest for My Soul or Windows. Run would be a book kind of like My Heart & Other Black Holes but more reflective on humans as a whole. I don’t know. I just think it’d make a great book.

Oceandust by Hands Like Houses | Spotify Link

I like a lot of sad music, you guys. But this song could be such a powerful book. Just check out the chorus:

I don’t want to pretend that I’m stronger for it all
I don’t want to pretend that the sadness is gone
‘Cause I wanna know that I’m steady on my feet
I don’t want to pretend so peace will be real to me

Afraid by The Neighbourhood | Spotify Link

I think this could be two different stories. In one, a psychological thriller. He’s afraid someone else is going to be him the next day. And maybe when he wakes up, he is someone else. *shudders* But in the other, it could be a story of a character struggling with their mental health. Literally afraid they are losing themselves.

Kitchen Sink by twenty one pilots | YouTube Link

Remember when I said I like sad music? Yeah. Here’s another. I just really want to know the story behind this one and I think it could make a really wonderful book.

Blue Neighbourhood video trilogy by Troye Sivan

I want this entire video trilogy to be made into a book. If you haven’t listened to these songs or watched these videos, go do it now. You won’t be sorry.

Chocolate by The 1975 | Spotify Link

I think this could turn into a book that comments on drug use amongst teens. But it could also turn into a historical-fiction-esque book with a Bonnie and Clyde kind of feel. Feds chasing them.

I Wanna Get Better by Bleachers | Spotify Link

The lyrics tell the whole story.

Love Like You THEN Breakdown More THEN I Don’t Love U by Eric Hutchinson | Spotify Links 1 // 2 // 3

That’s a story right there. Contemporary YA – fall in love, fall out of love, angry but upbeat ending. This would kind of refreshing to not have the couple get together in the end.

What songs do you wish were books?

The First Time She Drowned Pre-Order Blast

TFTSD_PreOrder_Banner

New books are amazing. New books that come with free gifts are even better!

Debut Young Adult author Kerry Kletter is giving you just that!
Pre-order THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED on or before March 14th, 2016 and you’ll get a signed poster and bookmark! Supplies are limited to 50 sets, and ship ONLY in the US.

Getting your free poster and bookmark is as easy as 1..2..3..4..

  1. Go to whatever book seller you like and pre-order THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED (links below in case you need them!)
  2. Screen shot your receipt!
  3. E-mail that receipt to meandmyshelf(at)gmail(dot)com  ATTN: TFTSD Pre-Order
  4. Fill out THIS FORM so Kerry knows where to send your goodies!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry KletterCassie O’Malley has spent her whole life trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically. It’s been two-and-a-half years since her mother dumped Cassie in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, she enrolls in college, ready to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But as she struggles to find her way forward, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is the truth? And more important, whose life must she save?

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself,  The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

PRAISE:

“Beautiful and passionate . . . [Kletter is] a writer of great distinction and infinite promise.” —Pat Conroy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad

“A lovely and haunting keep-you-up-all-night heart-wrencher that is both beautiful and raw, painful and uplifting. An incredible read.” —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

“Sentence by sentence . . . one of the most lyrical novels I’ve ever read. Haunting and exquisite.” —Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything

The First Time She Drowned is an exquisite and masterful dive, a brave exploration into the complexities of family, and the saving grace of friendship. Kletter’s writing is hypnotic, her characters alive, her story tragic, beautiful, hopeful. Simply put, this book is stunning.” —David Arnold, critically acclaimed author of Mosquitoland

ABOUT KERRY:

Kerry KletterKerry Kletter has had a lifelong passion for story. She holds a degree in literature and has an extensive background in theater, having appeared in film, television, and onstage. When not writing, Kerry can be found surfing, running, working with animals, or singing loudly in her car while stuck in LA traffic. A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, Kerry now lives in Santa Monica, California, with her partner, screenwriter David Zorn. The First Time She Drowned is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @kkletter.

 Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

 
Check out my interview with Kerry and her MC Cassie!

Andi’s ABCs Pocket Letter Exchange | Round 2

I had so much fun with the first round of Andi’s (from Andi’s ABCs) Pocket Letter project that I knew I had to sign up for round 2! According to Andi’s post, “Pocket Letters are penpal letters in. pocket format. Basically, you fill all the pockets of a 9 Pocket Page Protector (or similar) and send. ~Pocket Letter Pals.” As I’m sure you guys have noticed, I really love being crafty, so this pocket letter thing is a lot of fun. This round, I was paired with the wonderful Kaitlin from Vivacious Hobo and the pocket letter she sent me was SO MUCH FUN. I had to share it with you!

THE WHOLE THING

2016-02-14 09.17.42

As you can probably tell, it has a bit of an Alice in Wonderland theme, which I thought was REALLY CUTE! Like Alice’s Eat Me cake, I had nine pockets with instructions.

WHAT WAS IN THE POCKETS

2016-02-14 09.17.34

READ ME: This was, of course, the letter. But Kaitlin had folded it into a heart, making it extra adorable!

DRINK ME: Tazo Passion tea. I can’t wait to try this! It sounds super delicious.

STICK ME: Adorable little heart foam stickers! I think I’m going to take these to the library. Some of my kids will love them.

EAT ME: DELICIOUS Ghirardelli caramel chocolate. And yes, they are both already gone.

SMASH ME: This was too cool! It was a little package that you hit with your fist. Then the balloon inside started to inflate itself and eventually broke out of the packaging. Super fun.

CHEW ME: Gum!

SOLVE ME: A cute, little 24-piece puzzle. It obviously didn’t take long to solve but it was fun. 🙂

USE ME: Tiny cupcake liners. I definitely want to make some little cupcakes soon. I’m thinking red velvet. Yummmm.

SMELL ME: Small incense cones. Burned one already and it smelled SO GOOD.

Kaitlin put so much thought and work into my pocket letter, and I love every single thing that came in it! Thank you, Kaitlin!! ❤

DNF ARC Review: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle ModestoAuthor: Michelle Modesto

Genre: Young adult, western, fantasy

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

384 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Balzer + Bray for letting me read this!

I had to DNF this one, you guys. I tried. I really did. But it just has too much going on. I spent almost all of the time I was reading confused, and that does not make for a good book for me. Before I wrote this full review, I posted this GIF on Goodreads in an attempt to sum up my feelings and it still stands true.

What is going on gif

There is so much going on right away – you’re just thrown into this world of vampires and mechanical human parts and all kinds of stuff – but you don’t really know why the world’s like this. It’s just a weird and unsettling world that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And most of those things don’t seem to add much to the story, if I’m honest.

I do want to point out that I know A LOT of people really loved this book, and I’m mostly in the minority here. I do think there are people who will love this story (and the premise was really cool), but in the end, it just wasn’t for me.

Waiting on Wednesday: My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

My Seventh-Grade Life in TightsPublisher: Delacorte/Random House

Author: Brooks Benjamin

Release date: April 12, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

LIVE IT.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

WORK IT.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

BRING IT.

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor.

Why I’m excited: A book all about following your dreams no matter what. About fighting for what you want. I can’t wait to meet Dillon and check out his moves. Plus, the “Dizzee Freekz”? I mean, could there be a cooler name? 🙂 Then add on top of that the fact that Brooks is just wonderful and I’m seriously looking forward to this book.

Top Ten Tuesday: OTPs and Fictional Crushes

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Valentine’s Day is next week…let’s do a Valentine’s Day themed freebie! Top Ten Books That Would Make Great Valentine’s Day Reads (or anti-Valentine’s day reads), Top Ten OTPs, Top 10 fictional crushes, top ten great love declarations in fiction, swoony quotes from books etc. Get creative!

I’m going to split this in half and do FIVE of my favorite OTPs and FIVE of my favorite fictional crushes.

OTPs

Cricket Bell and me….er, Lola from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Simon Spier and Blue from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Cress and Captain Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Maddy and Olly from Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

The Raven Boys and Blue from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys and BlueSource

POSSIBLE SPOILER OTP (I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP)

Ronan Lynch and Adam Parrish from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

CRUSHES

Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Kell Maresh from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Lila Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Captain Carswell Thorne (This is how I pictured him in my head) from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Thorne

I know it doesn’t make sense, but…Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Who are your OTPs or book crushes?

ARC Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Blackhearts by Nicole CastromanAuthor: Nicole Castroman
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
384 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster for letting me read this!

My first update on Goodreads while reading BLACKHEARTS was “This. I like it.” And that’s pretty much the perfect way to sum up my thoughts on this book. I liked BLACKHEARTS. A lot. I fell completely head over heels for Teach (Edward Drummond, the man who becomes Blackbeard). In fact, my other update on Goodreads while reading was this: “Teach, all day every day.” I mean, serious heart eyes over here, you guys. I DARE you to read this book and not love him.

And then there’s Anne, who’s a complete and total badass. She’s had a super tough life, but she’s fighting hard to make her own way, even if it means stealing. She wants to get out of the life she’s been stuck in and see the world – and on that note, I could relate to her so well. I enjoyed seeing her journey throughout the book, as well as her and Teach’s relationship going from something resembling unease and distrust to a beautiful rapport and mutual understanding. SWOON.

I think Nicole’s imagining of how Teach became a pirate, the life and actions and events that lead to him stepping on to that ship to take on the seas, is so very believable, and that’s probably my favorite part of the whole book (followed closely, of course, by Teach himself). She’s been so creative but she hasn’t tried to explain his reasoning in an inauthentic way. It’s very convincing.

The bottom line: Give me more, Nicole. Please? I also want to point out that some people might not like this ending, and I’ll admit I got a bit grabby hands at the end (you can ask Nicole), but I think it’s an absolutely perfect ending.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Also, check out Nicole’s guest post on the blog: 8 Reasons for Writing BLACKHEARTS.