Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review of Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale and Q&A w/author Lynda Rutledge

Q&A with Lynda Rutledge
Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale

Lynda, welcome to the General Fiction book club forum at B&
Hi. Great to virtually be here!

Tell us a little about your debut novel
I’d love to: On millennium New Year's Eve, the reclusive richest old lady in tiny Bass, Texas—Faith Bass Darling--believes she hears the voice of God tell her to have a garage sale of all her mansion’s incredibly expensive worldly possessions, because she believes it to be the last day of her life. 
As the townspeople grab up the family's heirlooms for pennies and those close to Faith hustle to try to stop it, chaos ensues, of course.  And the antiques of five generations of Faith's founding family—a Civil War dragoon, a wedding ring, a French relic clock, a family bible, a roll-top desk,  begin to reveal their own roles in the family saga. Before Y2k midnight fireworks, almost everybody will be forced to think about life’s deepest questions, such as: Do our possessions possess us?  Who are we without our memories?  Is there life after death or second chances on earth? And most of all, is Faith Bass Darling REALLY selling an authentic Louis Comfort Tiffany Lamp for a $1?
I have to admit that the title. Cover  and premise really grabbed me
Tell us where the idea came from for the novel.
So many ways to answer that!  Who knows exactly where a writer’s ideas come from. I often say that a writer doesn’t have an idea, an idea has the writer. But the idea started somewhere and I think the germ came from what you’d expect—a garage sale.
My mom, who had a rambling old two-story house full to busting with stuff that five kids left behind, started having garage sales a few years after I finished college. I found this out, living thousands of miles away by that time, when she called to tell me she'd sold my long-forgotten stash of comic books yellowing in the back of one of the house's old closets for a dime apiece (my dad owned a drugstore so I had hundreds). It was an inexplicably sad moment. Then I remember laughing at myself, surprised by my hurt feelings. Why was I so attached to those old things? But I was. About that same time I  heard that the first Superman comic book went for a million dollars and that, as you might imagine, got my attention! Then I began watching PBS’ Antiques Roadshow and after hearing dozens of spotlight stories of garage sale-found treasures, I began to think not just of their value, but their history. And the ah-ha bolt of lightning struck.  What if our antiques could talk? What if a neighborhood was offered expensive antiques for garage sale prices?  What would make something like that happen?   And that led to thoughts of what we can’t take with us, and what we truly want to leave behind. Of course, then the characters all started pushing their way into the story, and I began to believe this idea was trying to tell me something, and so I finally began to listen.

Did you know how the novel ended before you started writing it.
I had an idea, but it was a “working” idea, something to aim at.  My writing process seems to be that I get an idea for the beginning and the ending, trusting the middle will take care of itself, and I’m off and running, with the full realization and self-permission to change it all in the process, of course.

Your bio states that your writing career is very eclectic from journalist, film reviewer to ghostwriter and both fiction and non-fiction. Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction (oh and can you tell us who you ghostwrote for)
I’ve always preferred writing fiction, but it’s a lot harder than nonfiction. Nonfiction is more a skill, although it can artfully done. But fiction is skill AND art, which takes time to mature and develop. Nonfiction gave me the time to do so, while working with words.   I used to describe my career as  being a fulltime freelance journalist with ongoing literary pretensions.   Now, happily, I may have to stop saying that, eh?  I love moving into life as a novelist after all those years of dreaming about it.  Hopefully, the future holds more fiction.
(Oh and no-no-no, I can’t tell you who I ghostwrote for because that’s rather the idea of a “ghost,” right?  But it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, believe me.  It just allowed me to begin writing as a fulltime career, nurturing my own literary dreams and practicing, practicing, practicing.)

What’s next for you, are you working on another novel?
Ah, we crazy writers are always working on something, if even just in our heads. I’ve got a couple of ideas that haven’t quite battled it out for my next obsession, but it will come.  For now, though, I hope to have some fun with this book for awhile (like this interview), and then I hope to have a chance to publish another one. We’ll see, won’t we?   Might happen if your readers like the book idea enough to try it! And thank you ahead of time, if you do.

Do you have favorite authors and or favorite genres to read
Amy Einhorn Books tries to hit the sweet spot between commercial and literary fiction, and that’s really my home. But I will read almost anything and often do. I’m a sucker for the occasional good speculative fiction or literary mystery, for instance,  and the last book I read was a book of cartoons; the one before that was a travelogue narrative nonfiction, and the one before that was an acclaimed novel about an international newspaper in Rome.  All pretty darn good, but all very different.   I think it’s because I read as a writer, which means I rarely lose myself in a book anymore, a rather sad thing. Of course, that makes the times I do even more special.   Reading as a writer is more like hunting/gathering. A writer reads out of curiosity and quest for knowledge, waiting for the things that capture the imagination and spur us to creativity, be it now or later.  That’s my long way of saying I read most everything, all the time, but if I had to choose some favorite writers, I’d choose ones for what they taught me, classic authors such as Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty for classic Southern voice. But also living authors such as Pat Conroy and Marilynne Robinson for language, Margaret Atwood for fearlessness, Amy Hempel for brevity, Ray Bradbury for imagination, and Larry McMurtry for a sense of place.

Do you have a target audience in mind for your novel
I wrote it to appeal to most everyone, because the themes are so very universal, even if set in an usual context like a garage sale. There’s a little there for every taste, I hope: Those who like a fun story, those who like deeper ideas, those who like character-driven stories as well as interesting plots, those who like Southern novels, those who like smalltown sagas, those who like pageturners, and those who, well, like antiques and garage sales. There are strong male characters as well as female ones and lots to think about on any level you read it, whoever you are. That was the plan, anyway.  I can say this: The best stories to me are the ones that are fun but offer me something that keeps me thinking for days afterward, a nice takeaway--much like a good garage sale, right?  I hope your readers find that to be a case at Faith’s Sale if they chose to drop by.

For such a well traveled person can you tell us what and where your dream vacation would be.
Oh my goodness, what a question.  Right now my dream vacation is…the next one.  But if I had to choose right now, give me a fancy hotel that opens onto a pristine beach with coral and turtles and parrot fish only a few steps away.  But if it were my dream, then it would also be on the edge of an exotic, international city with winding ancient streets, great restaurants, and a world class museum or two.  How is that for impossible? That’s why they call it a “dream,” right?

Thank you Lynda for stopping by and good luck with your new novel!
Buy the book here, visit the author's website here

My review of Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale
Lynda Rutledge
Amy Einhorn Books a division of Penguin
ISBN13: 9780399157196
304 pages

There’s an old saying money can’t buy happiness and that’s very true for Faith Bass Darling, she lost her son in a terrible accident, her husband’s death followed soon after and her daughter ran away in her teens, yes this was years ago but Faith seems to be reliving it like an old movie loop.  Now lately her days aren’t as clear as they once were but when she’s woken up not once but three times by a God she hasn’t spoken to in years, she takes notice. Does he give her an epiphany, or give her prophecies, oh no he tells her to clear out her stately mansion in Bass Texas and have a garage sale to end all garage sales and on this the most momentous of days, December 31, 1999.
So on the dawn of a new century lives will change in the small once prosperous now mostly forgotten town of Bass Texas and the ripple effect will spread until no one is spared the backlash, especially Faith, Bobbie Ann Blankenship, Claudia Darling, Father George Fallow and John Jasper Johnson. These lives will be changed forever, but will the sale change them for the good or for the worse.

 I love reading debut novels, it always feels like a birth when a new voice in the writing community comes on the scene and it was no different with this unexpected gem of a novel. Now by the title you might think that Ms. Rutledge has a comedy, well you’d be wrong just like I was. Instead inside this book I found the epic struggles of her characters and finally absolution and resolution, there were haunted and troubled people who could be anyone I know and I loved how the author came to her conclusions and found solace for her troubled crew. She used dialogue that I could easily read and understand and her narrative was animated enough that I could easily put myself in the scenes she created. This is a read that would appeal to a wide audience by both sexes and many ages. Now if you’re looking for a novel that gives you a concrete conclusion this isn’t for you, but if like me you like to have that almost absolute ending yet with degrees of variations left to your own imagination, then this is definitely your next must read.
Ms. Rutledge this was exactly the kind of novel that goes on my keeper shelf to be brought out to read again and again and to share with only those who can be trusted with a treasured keepsake. Thank you and I look forward to what you come up with next.

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