Wednesday, October 6, 2021

TBR: They Always Wave Goodbye by Katie Sherman

TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe.

Give us your elevator pitch: what’s your book about in 2-3 sentences?


They Always Wave Goodbye is about women: the choices they make, the children they shape, and the lies they tell in order to survive. These award-winning stories are set in the heart of Appalachia.


Which story did you most enjoy writing? Why? And, which story gave you the most trouble, and why?


None of them were easy to write. But I would say “The Easiest Thing” was the quickest story I wrote within the collection. It’s about a mother who has a momentary compulsion to leave her family. I think you would be hard pressed — especially given the recent pandemic — to find a mother who hasn’t had one of those days where they thought, I could chuck it all and move to Mexico. “The Easiest Thing” perfectly encapsulated that rollercoaster of emotions. I loved the idea of looking at a myriad of small frustrations rather than one explosion of anger. So, to me it was the story and the character I most identified with.


“Love, Mom” was incredibly difficult to edit. This story is told in letter form with advice for future generations. There are so many things within the story directly from my life. The scene where the daughter has seizures was especially difficult as it’s something my daughter, Addie, struggled with. As I was putting together the collection, it was suggested that I dig a little deeper on this story and it didn’t feel as if that was possible. Thankfully, it was. I am truly proud of the end result. So proud, in fact, it was the story I read for my graduate thesis. (Editor’s note: link below.)


Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.


I like to say this book was always a bridesmaid and never the bride. It got flagged for a number of contests and named as a finalist in open reads but wasn’t ever picked up. I sent it to agents who would write back saying they loved the voice but couldn’t sell a story collection. After about two years, I was going to hang up my hat and call it. Then, I saw six different calls for presses looking for quality collections. I thought, why not? I submitted to all of them and was thrilled to hear from Finishing Line Press.


What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?


I love Anne Lamont’s essay, “Shitty First Drafts.”  I sometimes need a reminder that no one writes a masterpiece on the first go round. My fear of creating something awful can often be paralyzing and keep me from writing at all. I read that essay once a month as a reminder that writers write, even when it’s bad.


My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?

How personal I allowed it to get. Many of the characters had a fragment of myself within them.


What’s something about your book that you want readers to know?


Parenthood is complicated and this project started as a way to vocalize taboos, the things women never felt comfortable saying aloud. You’ll find stories about work/life balance and societal expectations. Hopefully, I have created characters women relate to and understand.


Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might share?)


In one story, a father and daughter are trying to recreate their matriarch’s fried cauliflower. Luckily, that is a recipe my family would never lose.



1 head cauliflower

(12) Large Eggs

2 ½ cups Parmesan Cheese

½ cup Cracker Meal

1 ½ Tbsp. Parsley

Vegetable Oil


Cut the leaves and stalk off the cauliflower. Separate the florets into medium sized pieces. Bring a large pot of water to rapid boil. Add the salt and florets. Cook for 5 minutes. The cauliflower should be fork tender but still firm. Beat eggs well. Then beat in cheese, cracker meal, and parsley. Dip each floret into the batter. Heat vegetable oil (about a quart) or deep enough to cover half of the florets. Drop florets into the oil. Fry at 365 degrees until golden brown.









READ A STORY, “Love, Mom,”:




DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.