Friday, June 03, 2016

Sally Kilpatrick: You Wrote a Love Story Set Where?

I have a problem. Well, several, but I’m only going to talk about the one today, and that problem is that I can’t seem to write an honest-to-goodness romance to save my soul. After several attempt at writing romance, I finally got smart and wrote the story I wanted to tell and then worried about labeling it. Okay, I wasn’t smart so much as frustrated. I still call The Happy Hour Choir my Eff It Book, as in “Eff all the rules I’m going to write what I’m going to write.” Apparently, what I wanted to write was southern fiction, a lovely catchall for stories set in the southern portion of the United States, preferably with eccentric characters.

Mind you, I’d been doing this all along to some degree. My latest release, Better Get to Livin’ was my attempt at writing a Harlequin American and was originally entitled Married to the Mortician. When it was rejected by Harlequin—shocking, I know!—then I tried other pursuits including my Eff It Book. Once I wrote that one, it’s as though all of my creative pieces started falling into place including a car pool epiphany that went something like, “Holy sh*t! Happy Hour, Bittersweet Creek, and the mortician book are all set in the same town!”

The story of my beleaguered funeral director would not leave me. Eventually, I realized the story needed more southern flavor, an ensemble cast, and maybe a mystery or two. Voila! I give you Better Get to Livin’ or, as I like to think of it, It’s a Wonderful Life meets The Sixth Sense. . . . in a small town, southern funeral home.

But, Sally, you’re asking, why would you ever write about a funeral director? Samantha Fox once said that “naughty girls need love, too” and so do funeral directors. Also, I think the seed for this novel was planted when I was in high school. I had the oddest side job: occasionally, Mr. Fentress Casey (Best name for a funeral director ever!) would pull me out of high school to play “Taps” at a military funeral and he would pay me twenty dollars, too! Of course, this usually meant sitting in the back of the funeral home twiddling my thumbs and listening to that awful slowed down chime version of “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” but I was. . . observant, and the whole situation captured my imagination. (Also, if anyone plays that slowed down chimey mess at my funeral, somebody is getting haunted. I want to go out New Orleans style.)

But, you know, the folks at Kensington describe Better Get to Livin’ so much better than I:

“Smart, witty, and delightfully offbeat, this new novel from the author of The Happy Hour Choir and Bittersweet Creek is an uplifting story about following your heart, even when it leads to the last place you'd expect

Presley Cline has put aside dreams of Hollywood stardom and come back to Ellery, Tennessee, to work in a beauty shop. In truth, the dreams in question were more her mother's than her own. Presley may have the face and body of a movie icon, but she lacks the stomach for it. Yet a loving relationship and normal home life seem almost as unattainable as an Oscar. Being able to see and speak to dead people certainly isn't helping.

Presley's first job, beautifying "clients" at the Anderson Funeral Home, is quite a change from working on a movie set. The place is home to dozens of ghosts all hoping that Presley can help them move on--and also one very-much-alive owner, Declan Anderson. Like Presley, Declan is caught between following family expectations and his own aspirations. But with a little meddling from loved ones and locals--both living and dead--Presley is starting to see that life is too short not to be who you want to be, and the most rewarding journeys involve some unexpected detours…”

Wanna win a copy of Better Get to Livin’? Comment below with the most unlikely hero or heroine you’d like to see get his or her own happily ever after, and I have some random number generator thing pick one of you. Who knows, I might take you up on the challenge of most unlikely hero/heroine for a future novel, too.


traveler said...

A hardworking, principled and old school handyman who is a real man, when men were men.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

A businessman whose integrity, loyalty to his employees and success which has been from years of backbreaking work deserves his hea.

Mary Preston said...

A widowed mother of 4 - so deserving.