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The Next Big Thing: Interview with the author about "Moon Over Taylor's Ridge"

posted Dec 9, 2012, 4:21 PM by Janie Watts   [ updated Jun 26, 2013, 12:42 PM by Tony Spataro ]

Two talented southern authors Beth Duke (“Delaney’s People” and “Don’t Shoot Your Mule”)
 and Kimberly Brock (“The River Witch”) kindly invited me to participate in a question and answer session about my new book, “Moon Over Taylor’s Ridge.”

Even if you have already read  “Moon Over Taylor’s Ridge,” I think you’ll learn some things you may not have heard before.  

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

“Moon Over Taylor’s Ridge” is my novel that just came out in late August.  I am working on another, but would rather talk about “Moon.”  Not only am I superstitious, but I believe a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, or in my case, a novel in hand is better than the two floating around in my computer.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

For many years I lived in Los Angeles. When my elderly father needed help, I started flying back home to Georgia. While there, I helped Daddy and also visited with relatives.  Our family loves to share stories. My uncles and cousins kept telling me about the legend of a Cherokee silver mine said to be on Taylor’s Ridge, a low mountain that runs along the length of the valley. And in the quiet moments when my father napped, I started thinking, “what if?” 

What genre does your book fall under?

Southern literature would be the umbrella “genre.” But also “family relationships” and “Cherokee history.” But the best way to describe it is “a little history, mystery and romance.”

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

 Think Colin Farrell can pull off a southern accent? He’d be Will.  He’s the only one I’ve really thought about because everyone keeps asking to meet Will. I would love to hear what my readers think, who they would like to cast in the various roles. That way I will prepared when Hollywood calls ; )

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 The best one was written by author Jennifer Youngblood (The Paper Rose Club and Stoney Creek, Alabama) who said, “Strengthened by the sturdy Cherokee hills of her youth, a woman’s unexpected trip home takes her on a journey into the windows of her heart. Beautifully written and historically rich, this slice of the South is very satisfying.”  Now why didn’t I think of that?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

No agent, but I found a small publisher, Little Creek Books, looking for stories of strong Appalachian women, which would describe several of my characters—Avie, Xylia, Jolene, and yes, even Aunt Ardelia! And let me add that going through the publishing process, it helps if you are a strong southern woman.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

 The first draft took about two years.  I had to do a lot of research on Cherokee lore and history. Then there were those three billion re-writes after that.   The real work is in re-writing.

  What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 I have been told it’s like Sharyn McCrumb’s “Ballad” series, Adriani Trigiani's "Big Stone Gap" or Karen White's books, without the ghosts.  I’d love to know what my readers think about this.  Naturally, I thought it was like “Gone with the Wind” only shorter ; )

 Who or what inspired you to write this book?

 Taylor’s Ridge and its rich history have intrigued me since I was little. And like my main character Avie, I experienced strong feelings after the death of my father.  I had to go through the tedious process of settling an estate, although Avie had a much rougher time than I did.  Again, I thought, “what if?” My mind is always taking me to that “what if” spot. 

.What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

 If you like quirky characters, you’ll be in “hog heaven” as Jolene would say. And by the way, many readers love man-hungry, flashy dressing Jolene.  Me?  I love Xylia, the 70-year-old who runs the store and is the voice of reason. I hope I “grow up” to be just like Xylia one day, perhaps a wee bit thinner.

The cover of “Moon” is a tree that stands in the middle of my farm.  I shot it on my cell phone, and the talented Tara Sizemore, my cover designer, made it work—even though it didn’t have enough pixels, whatever that means. Tara worked her magic.

 Also, something odd happened with the part about the Cherokee silver mine. When I researched the legend further, I found out my late aunt, Mary Watts Mitchell, had actually written up the story in a history book.  It made me thankful to be from a family who believes in writing down stories.

 If you enjoy a good plot, you’ll like my book. There are plenty of twists and turns.  And no, I am not going to tell you where the silver mine is, so don’t even ask!


Thanks to Beth Dial Duke and Kimberly Brock for including me in this. 

Next up will be two talented authors Victoria Thurman and Natasha Bauman .  (Natasha’s website is being re-vamped and will be live on December 13.)