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?
The stories in this collection give voice to the history and soul of a rural collective.
These people want to belong—to themselves, their families, their communities, and their God. From the dizzying Thanksgiving table to the sobering graveside service, these stories exist in their acts of agency and grace.
Which character did you most enjoy creating? Why? And, which character gave you the most trouble, and why?
“Breath to Bones,” the novella in the collection, was my favorite to write but also the toughest. There were only a few characters, but I wanted to get them right—their voices, motivations, and interactions. They’re confronting a tragedy, individually and collectively, and bringing all of their history on the page was exciting and terrible at the same time. These are generations of people born in the same place and roughly the same economic circumstances, so while they’re alike in many ways, their personalities and lived experiences vary a great deal. It was a high-wire act, of sorts, to maintain a distinct yet similar voice in each character.
Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.
Many of the stories began in some form during my time in the Converse University MFA program. All of this stories experienced rejection on some level. Finally, one story was published, “Goodbye Alice” in Appalachian Review, then another, then I won a writing prize, and so on. This process took years. Years of “Thank you, but…” and “You have not been selected” (all the while continuing to write because that’s what we do, right?) until one day much better news was delivered to the inbox. I was thrilled beyond measure when this collection was selected as a co-winner to the Converse MFA Alumni Book Award.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
In light of my comments about the book’s road to publication, Marianne Moore’s words come to mind: “Humility, Concentration, and Gusto”
My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?
The sheer amount of will power writing takes amazes me every time. Also, I did a great deal of research for several of these stories (I listened to many radio ads from the 1940s and made many visits to cemeteries, which I find fascinating and always surprising).
Who is your ideal reader?
My ideal reader is one who knows how much I appreciate and respect their time. I have faith in my characters and believe their stories need to be told, and I have done my best to abide by Raymond Carver’s motto: “Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.”
Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might share?)
Yes! The first story in the collection is set during a southern Thanksgiving—so biscuits, dressing (similar to stuffing), fried apples, and more. In fact, I think every story mentions some type of food or candy.
Buttermilk Coconut Pie
1 stick oleo (I use unsalted butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ c. buttermilk
2 cups white sugar
2 cups coconut flakes
Melt oleo and add buttermilk. Beat eggs and add sugar. Pour together and then add vanilla and coconut and mix well. Place mixture in two unbaked pie shells. Bake in preheated oven at 350° F for 45 minutes.
~~Courtesy of Great Aunt Nancy
READ MORE ABOUT THIS AUTHOR: https://www.kimshegog.com/
ORDER THIS BOOK FOR YOUR OWN TBR STACK: https://libraries.clemson.edu/press/