To start, in the better-late-than-never department, the Intro Interview has winners from the RITA Best First Book series:
- MaryK #21: the historical bundle—A Tailor-Made Bride, When Harry Met Molly, and Pieces of Sky (which won the RITA!)
- Jane Halsall #68: Marcella Burnard’s Enemy Within
- Kaya H #44: the YA bundle, with I Now Pronounce You Someone Else, The Iron King, and The Summer of Skinny Dipping
- RachelT #1: the mystery/suspense bundle, with Firestorm and Wanna Get Lucky?
Winners, send your post info to daintrointerview AT gmail DOT com.
Now… pull up a wicker chair on your mental front porch for Nancy Naigle’s mystery/romance Sweet Tea and Secrets. A chance for career success and love leads Jill Clemmons to a glamorous city life, but her Grandma Pearl keeps her tethered to Adams Grove. A sad event brings her back, a threatening mystery prolongs her visit, and a rekindled attraction tempts her to remain. We’ve got a copy to give away; check the end of the interview for details…
Jill Clemmons started each morning with Grandma Pearl’s favorite advice in mind: Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, “Oh shit, she’s awake!”
A six-word memoir for your protagonist, Jill:
“Live each day like Pearl would.”
The original triggers or inspiration points for this story:
A wonderful anonymous saying that someone sent to me via email. That quote became the first line of Sweet Tea and Secrets.
Your favorite line, moment, or scene in the book:
That’s tough. I guess one of my favorite scenes is the first time Jill meets Clyde. She’s so smug thinking Garrett is coming back to help her out only to be greeted by Clyde, the huge drooling Bernese Mountain Dog. That was fun to write.
Pearl is a strong presence throughout the book, despite the fact that her funeral is what brings Jill back to Adam’s Grove. What did you enjoy about writing her?
I love people of Pearl’s generation. I get swept away by their stories. I loved that even though she’s gone everyone still remembers her and lives by the impact she had on them over the years. That’s comforting to me. Hopefully, to others, too! A nice reminder that things we say and do while we are alive can carry on and affect others forever.
This story was originally titled Pearls of Wisdom. Pearl was the first character that came to me. I can’t wait until I get to the age where I can say and do whatever I want. Ha! Nothing makes me smile quicker than a feisty old gal who knows what she thinks and isn’t afraid to share it.
I’d pictured Pearl as the self-appointed matriarch of a small tightly knit community. I could hear this tiny little woman doling out unsolicited advice all the while softening the tough words to swallow with home-baked delicacies like her famous Chocolate Pecan Pie and secret recipe chocolatey-chocolate chip cookies. If you serve treats you can say just about anything, right? I started scribbling down sayings, Pearl-isms so to speak. A couple of my favorites were:
- Love’s kind of like sweet tea. The secret is all in having the patience to let it steep.
- Here’s the good thing about the future. It comes one day at a time. Follow your heart each day. You’ll get where you’re supposed to go.
- Those you’d share a family recipe or church bulletin with proved a family connection better than any swanky, scientific DNA test.
I have to admit the one about her arthritis is fun, too.
Somewhere in the South, is there really a business like Huckaby House that makes real estate, decorating, and target practice one-stop shopping?
Not that I know of. Huckaby House started out as a cool old store full of surplus stuff rescued from buildings getting demolished. You know the turn of the century building with the tall doors that smells all musty inside, but is full of classic treasures like corbels and stained glass. But as I got to know Chaz more and wrote the other stories in the Adams Grove series I realized Chaz was a little ADD and he wouldn’t be focused on one thing. He knows everybody and can connect you to anything you need. I rolled in the shooting range after realizing just how important hunting is in some of these small towns. Some merchants actually close up shop for a week the first week of deer hunting in our town!
Small-town settings continue to be a popular way to thread a book series. What do you think readers are looking for in a recurring setting? What did you do to make Adams Grove a place they’d want to come back to?
I’m a sucker for old Main Streets. They grab my heart and I’ll detour to cruise through one every chance I get. I love the old buildings. Sometimes it’s a little sad because the buildings seem to get abandoned more often than not these days. My mind starts conjuring up stories when I visit those streets. I feel the hum of history. Am I a total dork?? I hoped folks that maybe hadn’t had the chance to connect to small towns before might find a new fondness or respect for that lifestyle and keep an open mind the next time they visit one. I also think that in this fast-paced microwavin’ world we live in…we all need to slow down. I wanted the setting in my books to be part of that balance.
Your oddest or most reliable writing habit/ritual:
I do all my final drafts on time-share trips where I lock myself away for a week and post big sheets of paper all over the walls to map out the story and track the timeline to be sure I didn’t time-travel my people by accident. When I walk away at the end of the trip…I’m done. Okay, well until the editor gets it J
Your favorite book when you were 10 years old:
I had every single Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy book lined up in order on my bookshelf. I also carried a well worn library card to the Kempsville Library which was within walking distance from my house. I loved spending time in the library. I’d read anything I could get my hands on. I always wanted to be the one who’d read the most books at the end of the summer.
If readers want more Southern-flavored fiction, what would you recommend?
I do love Southern flavored fiction. My very favorite book, and this is no secret, is Time Is A River by Mary Alice Monroe. I love the small town and the history woven into a very modern issue. The main character in that book is a cancer survivor. I also love all the fun stories that Mary Kay Andrews writes. She’s a hoot.
Your upcoming release, Out of Focus (November 14), sounds a little bit darker than Sweet Tea and Secrets.
Well, Out of Focus is women’s fiction and it definitely has some dark edges since Kasey loses her husband and her son is missing almost right out of the gate, but ultimately it’s a story of clinging to faith and hope and the power of friends banding together.
Out of Focus also has ties to the town of Adams Grove and you’ll get to know some of those characters even better in this book. I can promise you this about Out of Focus, there are light and tender moments to balance the sad stuff and struggles, and there is a beautiful happy ending.
Oh, and I should totally mention the hot country-western singer, Cody Tuggle. He will have his own story in a future book. Everyone LOVES him and I got a few beatings from beta readers about him not being the hero in this book. Trust me…you’ll love him and the path his life takes.
In the comments, tell us the best advice you ever got from the “Pearl” in your life. Or, what’s the weird business combo (like Huckaby House) where you live? Favorite response gets a copy of Sweet Tea and Secrets. You can find Nancy at www.NancyNaigle.com. Thanks for dropping by!