AND she didn't come empty-handed. She's got a signed copy of Glory Be to give away to one lucky winner.
Leave your name and email in the comments for a chance to win. (Or email it to me, if you prefer, barbaraoconnor at mac dot com) Names will be chosen in a drawing.
I believe a lot of Southerness comes from a sense of timelessness—some might say old-timey-ness— in our writing. That plus a whole lot of tarnations, dangs, and the use of the helping verb was: I was walking, I was listening, etc.
My fabulous editor cautioned me not to go overboard with the hokey expressions (of course, she said it nicely, and obviously didn’t use that expression but I got the message): too much pimento cheese, the languorous descriptions of mimosa trees, clouds, hot dusty roads. So I worried I might edit all of the “Southern” out of it. But the book takes place in about two weeks, and I also understood the need to speed up the action while conveying the feeling of summer in the South.
I think the setting is primary, especially in making a kids’ book “Southern.” But it’s also the language, obviously. And even the characters’ names! I mean, would Brother Joe, Old Lady Simpson, J.T., and even Hanging Moss fit into a book set anywhere other than the South?
I’ll share the story of my Junk Poker box. That Buster Brown shoebox is a prevailing image in GLORY BE. The two sisters’ boxes contain treasures —if you call skate keys, Crackerjack prizes, and Elvis’s wallpaper treasures — that help young readers know them better. And then Jesslyn up and dumps out all her junk, which says a lot about their changing relationship.
When we were little, my sister and I sneaked around during our forced afternoon naps and created a game that was basically Black Jack, played with saved pieces of junk. We called it Junk Poker. I remember a lot about that game, even if my sister does not. I’m older. I get to embellish that story.
|The Junk Poker Buster Brown box|
Food is important to Southerners. What sorts of food did you use in Glory Be? Any reason for those particular foods?
Oh, don’t even get me started. Of course, Glory’s maid/ cook/ caregiver Emma cooks when she’s mad, when the family entertains, when she’s asked to provide a delicacy for an event. She made chicken spaghetti (one of the few things my mother knew how to cook) and Red Velvet cake when the Yankee Laura came to supper. Glory thought the spaghetti might appeal to a non-Southerner. Emma fixed a picnic basket for the big July 4th celebration and a peach pie while worrying about Glory and Jesslyn getting in trouble. Bacon and hot biscuits for breakfast, sweet tea— all foods I love and remember from my childhood.
Any Southern expressions that you had to explain to your editor or copy editor?
Pure D. They had no clue what that meant.
Pure D. They had no clue what that meant.
And I wrote/say bald-faced lie, which they thought should be bold-faced. I won that battle.
We went back and forth about “couldn’t hardly spit.” To my ear, it just didn’t sound right any other way. Certainly not “could hardly spit.”
And then there’s the whole ice/iced tea and screen/ screened door thing.
What's one thing you fought to keep in your story (a character, plot line, theme, etc)?
Elvis almost left the building!
I had to fight a little to save a scene about Jesslyn and her boyfriend sneaking off to Tupelo with Glory hiding in the back of the station wagon. On our first editorial pass, my editor wondered if it contributed to the forward push of the story (that whole action-taking-place-in-a-short-time thing). But since she was just wondering and we were brainstorming together, I knew I had an opportunity to cling to Elvis on this one. When I told her my own personal story of actually visiting his little house in Tupelo, owning a plaster-of-Paris statue when I was Glory’s age, and a few other embarrassing Elvis moments, we agreed he needed to stay.
I think a serious story for kids is best told with an element of humor infused. Plus, Elvis provided one more thing that helped Glory realize she was growing away from her older sister. That whole Beatles vs. Elvis thing. So Elvis made the final cut.
|Elvis has NOT left the building!|
It's always fun to hear where other writers do their work. Tell us about your workspace.
I do my best work at a local community college that shares space with a public library. Big windows, mostly quiet, and very sketchy internet. I get there early and try to grab a study room. I reward myself with a walk on the trail afterwards where I think about what I just wrote/ revised/ messed up and put back together. Working at home has way too many distractions.
|On the way to the library|
|Bougainvillea: Just one of the many things I see on the trail around the campus when I walk. Or when I amble and think...|
|Note how neat the desk at the library is. |
That stickie on my computer says "What's the page turn????"!!!!
Thanks so much, Augusta for stopping by!
And don't forget, y'all....leave your name and email in the comments (or email it to me, if you prefer) to be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Glory Be.
Winner to be announced on Monday