The novel focuses on Rachel Frank, who has a successful architect husband, a house on one of the most prestigious streets in Dallas and a daughter in college. Then, her seemingly idyllic life is turned upside down. The book traces Rachel’s girlhood in the 60s with her best friend, the daughter of Texas tycoon, and a parallel story of of Rachel’s mother, a feisty Holocaust survivor.
The novel will be launched at the Texas Book Festival in Austin Oct. 22-23, 2011. She will appear at Tall Tales Book Shop in the Toco Hills shopping center on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m. for a book signing and is also scheduled for upcoming speaking engagements at the Georgia Writers Association meeting in January and at the Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference in March 2012.
The novel was originally written over the course of two years in an advanced fiction workshop at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. I completed Shelter from the Texas Heat and then went to graduate school for a master’s degree at Kennesaw State University, where sections of the book were critiqued. With minor tweaks along the way, the novel evolved into its final form this past summer.
Were you always interested in writing fiction?
I started out writing nonfiction as a journalist covering the arts, one of my passions, and I was fortunate to have written about positive topics for local papers, including Atlanta Intown. I decided to try my hand at fiction by creating a short story, which won an award and was published in an anthology, and it ultimately became the first chapter of the novel.
You mention Pat Conroy and Rebecca Wells, who are some other inspirations?
I have been inspired by many authors, but the ones who come to mind most readily are Margaret Mitchell, John Steinbeck, and contemporary Southern writer Anne Rivers Siddons. All are masterful storytellers, and they get to the heart of what drives a person. Mitchell created one of the most memorable female characters of all time, who met challenges but wasn’t always the nicest person around. Not to compare myself with Mitchell, my protagonist, Rachel Frank, faces some situations that show her flaws, but you still root for her to succeed. I laced my book with humor, and Texas lends itself to hyperbole! Anne Rivers Siddons tends to write about women at the crossroads of life, and their search for fulfillment unfolds in interesting ways. And finally, the richness of Steinbeck’s characters resonate with me, as East of Eden is one of my favorite books – and his as well, which he called “the big one.”
The paperback and eBook versions of Shelter from the Heat are available now at Amazon and at PeachTwigPress.com.