Friday, July 23, 2010
Interview and giveaway with Jackie Lee Miles
I like exploring the process of writing and seeing why writers make the choices they do for their work. That's especially fun when I've enjoyed a book - it's like getting a behind-the-scenes peek at how the book came about. So it was a pleasure to interview Jackie Lee Miles, the author of Roseflower Creek.
Question: The idea for this novel came from the actual murder of a ten-year-old child. How did the theme of forgiveness, which is very important in the story, come to you?
Jackie: The word “forgive” in the Greek translation means to give before it is done. If that’s the case, then to truly forgive means to be able to feel that whatever you are forgiving never happened. That’s a hard thing to do.
I wanted to portray forgiveness as close to that definition as possible. When Lori Jean discovers the real reason behind Ray’s problems, she is more than ready to forgive him. After she gets a glimpse of what his life was like for him as a child she says, “Being sorry wasn’t gonna change things. But knowing what Ray been through could change us. In those minutes that I saw Ray’s past, I forgive him for everything he ever done bad, right there on the spot.”
If only we could learn to do that in life. But it’s a tall order. That’s why I feel Roseflower Creek positively celebrates the power of forgiveness. Once we are able to forgive we can truly move on.
Question: Other than Lori Jean, who’s your favorite character in the story? (Lori Jean was mine!)
Jackie: Definitely, Carolee. The subject of friendship was a central part of the story as Lori Jean had so little in her life that was uplifting. I loved the part where Lori Jean says,
"Carolee sure was pretty and a whole lot a fun, too. Me and her used to meet up before school and walk the rest of the way together. She had herself a umbrella, too and when it rained she shared it with me ‘cause I didn’t have one. That way I only got rained on part of the way."
That's why I enjoyed her. It takes a optimistic heart to be happy about only being rained on a little.
"And when it rained real hard, Carolee left early and come all the way to my house to get me, just so I wouldn’t get so wet running up to meet her. That’s how special a friend she was ‘cause coming to get me was clear out of her way." Later when Carolee had an accident I cried as I wrote the lines.
Question: Before reading this book, I thought that a dead child might come off as too nice, or too good. Was that ever a concern for you when you were writing?
Jackie: I wasn’t concerned about her being too sweet or too nice. I was worried about maintaining her innocence while capturing a world adult readers could appreciate. Definitely, I wanted Lori Jean to be wise, but not so far beyond her years that it would not be credible.
I felt I found the right balance early on in the novel when her Aunt Lexie is making a maternity dress and once she’s finished with it she asks her husband, Lori Jean’s Uncle Melvin, what he thinks. He says, “Honey, that dress belongs on a kilt somewhere in Scotland. Where’d you get that crazy thing?”
Lexie started crying right off. She was doing a lot of that lately.
“Melvin, I made this dress, myself! Lori Jean and me, we been here for hours workin’ on it.”
“I’m sorry, sugar plum,” Melvin said. “Maybe I just didn’t see it in the right light.” Melvin guided Lexie by the shoulders over to the window.
“You just stand right there. Let me take a second look,” he said.
“Okay, what do you think?” Lexie asked. “Now, don’t be tellin’ me no lies, Melvin Pruitt.”
“Well, honey, in that case, I think we oughta go get you one them store bought maternity dresses. That darn thing looks like the dickens.”
“Oh, Melvin!” Lexie wailed and she run off crying with Melvin running after her.
“Now, honey...” he said. “You said you wanted me to tell you the truth.”
I didn’t much hear the rest. I decided it was as good a time as any to head back home. I coulda told Melvin a woman might ask for the truth, but mostly she don’t want a hear it.
Question: At the end of the book, when Lori Jean mentions all the people whom she hopes to see in heaven, Ray isn’t on the list. That’s quite understandable from her perspective, but what are your thoughts on it?
Jackie: I don’t think she really thought of Ray anymore. Once she forgave him he became part of her past and her future was in heaven with all of the people there who she had loved on earth. Come to think of it, maybe Ray wasn’t even there! Tee hee, but true.
I'm leaning towards him not being there, personally.
Question: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with readers?
Jackie: I’d love to share portions of my latest novel All That’s True, which will be released in 2011 from Sourcebooks Landmark. It follows two years in the life of thirteen-year-old Andrea St. James (Andi for short), who discovers her father is having an affair with her best friend’s sexy new stepmother, her mother is having one with alcohol, her brother is killed in a freak hazing accident, and her sister is ditched at the alter during Atlanta’s Wedding-of-the Year while reciting her actual wedding vows.
It has “equal joy and equal sorrow” and traces the protagonist’s poignant and sometimes laugh-out-loud journey to young adulthood, where Andi uncovers the elusive nature of truth and the devastating consequences of deception. Along the way she discovers the importance of one of life’s most important gifts—discernment—so one might recognize the differences. I’ve fallen in love with the protagonist; she has the most engaging voice:
“My grandmother, Nana Louise, lives at Sunny Meadows—only it’s not so sunny and there aren’t any meadows. My father put her there an hour after my grandfather died. We take her to dinner every Friday night. It’s like a sacrament. Nana Louise has no idea who we are, but she always smiles and gets in the car when they wheel her out, which I find amazing. I mean, when old folks forget people, do they forget not to go with strangers, too?”
© All Excerpts, Jackie Lee Miles, Sourcebooks, Inc.
The book has a lovely cover as well - check it out!
And Danielle at Sourcebooks is sponsoring a giveaway! Two copies of this book, to readers in the US or Canada. Leave a comment (with your email address) to let me know what interests you the most about Roseflower Creek, and you're entered. Contest closes midnight July 31, and best of luck.