Monday, May 16, 2011

SUMMER IN THE SOUTH: AUTHOR INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
SUMMER IN THE SOUTH
BY CATHY HOLTON

ABOUT THE BOOK:
For Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski, fleeing her own troubled past, the chance to spend the summer writing a novel in quiet Woodburn, Tennessee seems a welcome reprieve.  A guest of Will Fraser and his great-aunts, Fanny and Josephine Woodburn, members of an aristocratic, old-moneyed family, Ava soon finds herself surrounded by an eccentric cast of characters.

But the Woodburns are not who they seem to be.  Gradually hearing rumors about the mysterious death of great-aunt Fanny’'s first husband, Ava stumbles upon a decades old family secret.  Putting aside her planned novel, she begins instead to write the tragic history of the Woodburns, a family with more skeletons (and ghosts) in their closets than anyone can possibly imagine. 

As she writes the history of the Woodburns, Ava begins to put together the pieces of her own fractured past, learning that a good story is always more dazzling, and ultimately less painful, than the truth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cathy Holton grew up in college towns in the American South and Midwest.  As a child, she entertained her classmates with tales of a scaled creature that lived in her carport shed and a magical phone that hung in her family’'s bathroom that could be used to summon an English butler (this was in North Carolina in the 1960’'s and her family lived in married student housing). 

Once, in a moment of epiphany, she overheard two neighbors discussing her.
 
"That child is quite the story-teller,” one woman said.
 
"That child is the biggest liar on God’'s green earth,” the other woman replied.  

"She wouldn’'t know the truth if it fell out of the sky and clumped her on the head.”
Cathy knew then that she would be a writer.             

She studied Creative Writing at Michigan State University under Professor Albert Drake.  She has worked as a dude ranch hand, a university seminar coordinator, a paralegal, and an assistant in a fire investigation firm.  The mother of three grown children, she lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband and a rescue dog named Yoshi.   She is the author of Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes, Secret Lives of the Kudzu Debutantes, Beach Trip, and Summer in the South, all published through Random House/Ballantine Books. 

She is currently at work on her fifth novel, The Sisters Montague, about a nineteen-year old runaway who takes a job as a caregiver for a ninety-four year old Southern grande dame, a woman haunted by her own  past.  Think Girl, Interrupted meets Driving Miss Daisy.  With a twist.  For more about Cathy Holton, visit her website HERE.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: 
1.  Where did you get the inspiration or idea for this book?
    
    Twenty years ago I went with a friend to visit her great-aunt Fanny in the small town of Franklin, Tennessee.   My friend, Randal, it turns out, was from a very old-moneyed family who had been in the Nashville area for over two hundred years.  We stayed at Fanny’s large, impressive downtown home, which had been built by her great-great-grandfather in 1832 as a summer “cottage” where his family could escape the plantation during the summers.
 
    I was fascinated by the history of the house and the family, (there was a framed letter from Thomas Jefferson on one of the dining room walls addressed to Fanny’s ancestor).  I was also impressed with Fanny and her friends, all highly intelligent, vibrant and genteel elderly women who had been educated at Vanderbilt in the nineteen-twenties and who still clung to the time-honored tradition of cocktail hour.
    
    While there we did a very Southern thing.  We “visited” the Dead at the cemetary with Fanny, placing flowers on the many graves of deceased family members.  I noticed Fanny putting flowers on a grave set apart from the others and curious, I asked Randal, Whose grave is that?
    
    “Her first husband,” she said.  “He died young.  We never speak of him.”
    
    I was fascinated.  There was a look of – what? Tenderness, concern, guilt – on Fanny’s face as she leaned to place the flowers on the grave.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the first husband.  Who was he?  What had happened between he and Fanny that kept her devoted all these years and yet the family would not speak of him?  And how did he die?
  
    All that night I lay awake in my big four poster bed in a moonlit room and waited for the ghost of Fanny’s dead first husband to appear.
    
    Twenty years later I wrote Summer in the South, about a visiting Chicago writer who stumbles upon a sixty year old murder mystery in a small Southern town.  Did the love affair between Charlie and Fanny happen as I imagined it?  Was what happened in that big house on a moonlit night real, or did I just dream it?
    
    The answer to both questions, I suppose, lies clearly in the realm of fiction.   
    
    2. How did the title of your book come about?
    
    I had originally titled the book, “Old Money,” but my publishing house didn’t like that one.  So we settled (eventually) on “Summer in the South.”
 
    3. Do you see yourself in your characters? Which characters are easiest or more difficult to write?
    
    My female protagonists always have a strong, stubborn streak running through them, an inability to do as they’re told, a sense of themselves as being “outside the norm.”  I suppose that’s because I’ve always exhibited those traits.  Being an introvert (which I think most writers are) I have a tendency to be very introspective and somewhat moody.  And I have a dark sense of humor, what my mother used to call “gallows humor.”  My characters use humor as a defense mechanism because I do.
    
    The hardest characters for me to write are the long-suffering, self-sacrificing types who give everything of themselves and never lose their tempers.  Or rage against their fate.  Come to think of it, I don’t write many characters like that.
      
    4. What books would you say have made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out? What are you currently reading?
    
    Well, I’m a history freak so I read a lot of historical fiction.  Little Big Man is one of my favorite historical novels.  I loved Cold Mountain.  The Giant O’Brien, Oscar and Lucinda, The History of the Kelly Gang, the trilogy by Rodney Hall.  Right now I’m reading Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier.
   
    I suppose early on it was the short stories of Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Louis Nordan, John Cheever, and Alice Munro who most influenced me.
    
    5. What is the next or current book/project you are working on?

    I’m working on a novel tentatively called The Sisters Montague, about a nineteen year old runaway who takes a job as a caregiver for a wealthy, ninety-four year old Southern grande dame, a woman with her own shadowy past.  Both characters share a wickedly dry sense of humor, and as time goes on a wary friendship develops between the two as each begins to open up to the other about her past.  At the heart of the novel is a seventy-four year old love triangle that went horribly wrong, from which the elderly woman has never really recovered.
    
    Think Girl, Interrupted meets Driving Miss Daisy.
    
    6. What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably don’t know?
    
    Wow.  There’s a lot about me I don’t want people to know (think tequila binge days of college).  But if you’ve read my books, you probably already know that about me.
   
    7. Do you own an eReader of any kind and how do you feel about their impact on books, as well as you as an author?
    
    My children bought me a Nook for Christmas, and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome.  I’ll always be someone who enjoys the feel, smell, and weight of books but I do understand the ease of use and instant gratification of eReaders.  They say in two years e-books will make up 80% of the market.  It’s a brave new world out there, which is both scary and exhilarating to me as a writer.  My feeling is, whatever keeps people reading is good.
    
    8. What is your advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?
    
    Write.  Don’t talk.  Write.  And read.  You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader.  Read writers who amaze you, who depress you with their skill and virtuosity, who inspire you to try and do your best work.    

WATCH FOR MY REVIEW:
Watch for my review in a couple of days so you can comment on it and gain bonus entries so you have a better chance of winning one of these copies of SUMMER IN THE SOUTH

GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO CATHY HOLTON, I HAVE 
THREE HARDBACK COPIES OF THIS
WONDERFUL BOOK JUST IN TIME
FOR YOUR SUMMER READING!
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE 
TO COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:
 
+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT AUTHOR CATHY HOLTON'S INTERVIEW ABOVE. IF YOU COULD ASK HER A QUESTION, WHAT MIGHT IT BE?

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK AND LEAVE A LINK THAT I CAN FOLLOW

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW BOOKIN' WITH BINGO. YOU MAY COMMENT ON AS MANY WAYS YOU FOLLOW, BUT MUST COMMENT ON EACH YOU HAVE ENTERED SEPARATELY, PLEASE
 
GIVEAWAY ENDS AT 
6 PM, EST, JUNE 2
GOOD LUCK!

120 comments:

Karen B said...

The inspiration for your book is fascinating - can't wait to read!

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debbie said...

If I could ask the author a question it would be which author and book inspired her the most?
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Steve Capell said...

I absolutely agree with her statement that whatever keeps people reading is good. I also found it interesting that a lot of her characters exhibit the characteristics that she exhibits in her own life. Thanks for a great review and interview.

steven(dot)capell(at)gmail(dot)com

Margie said...

Very interesting interview, Karen. I especially enjoyed learning how the idea for her book came to life. If I could ask her a question...If you could sit down and talk with any author, living or dead, who would it be?
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Tore said...

What other inspirational books have you wrote? I really want to read this book. It sounds very good. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

petite said...

This captivating story appeals to me. A question for this author would be about her travels. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

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traveler said...

I enjoyed this interesting interview and learning about the author and her ideas. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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suburban prep said...

Question

Does she have an author that she would like to talk to from her childhood?


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catherine said...

did you ever figure out about the aunt first husband? im dying to know.
love southern fiction!

Colleen Turner said...

I have to say that I read her book Beach Trip last year and really enjoyed it! I have been waiting for this new book to come out since then :). She has a great way of presenting these fun and lively people but exposing the hidden hurt or drive within them as well. Thanks for the interview, I love that she enjoys her Nook but still wants the feel, smell, etc. of paper books (I am the same way!).
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Pamela Keener said...

I love the author's sense of humor in her answers to your questions.
This book sounds like a great read and I love the back story that got the author writing this book.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

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Carol N Wong said...

I love the author's sense of humor when she answers your questions. I am glad that you asked about the inspiration for the book. I think enjoy books that have at least some of the author's personal experience in the book.

Visiting the dead, is a Midwestern custom too. I have childhood memories of that. I would like to ask her if she ever people watch?

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

My Twitter name is Carolee888 and I tweeted:

http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2011/05/summer-in-south-author-interview-and.html Giveaway of ' Summer in the South'


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Donna said...

Captivating interview. Would love to win a book. Donna
dkmtheriot@yahoo.com
http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com

New follower GFC

lag123 said...

Love the interview Karen and I would love to meet her. She sounds like a very interesting person. I like the fact that she forms her characters after people she has encountered in her past. The question I would ask her is "where is the one place on earth that you would like to spend the rest of your life?"

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bloggingmom said...

I like the way she found her inspiration for this book in an experience from her younger days. It is amazing that a visit to a friend's house can be so inspiring.

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mamabunny13 said...

I enjoyed the interview very much. If I could ask Cathy one question it would be Do you think your sixth book will be about the ninety-four year old Southern grande dame's (from your 5th book)full story?
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dogwood said...

Great interview. If I could ask her a question... So what happened to Franny's husband? Did she find out. Southern families are masters at keeping secrets and spinning tales; any comparisons having lived around the country?

dogwoodlane at suddenlink dot net

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Sue Farrell said...

I think the interview could have been longer, she is a facinating author and I would have liked to have heard more about the book and her character development. I would liked to have asked her how she sees the difference between "old money" and "new money" and how those people are different.
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Connie said...

Hi! My question for her would be this: If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

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Connie said...

Hi! I would really like to read this book. Thanks for the great giveaway! I am a loyal GFC follower. :)

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~Enamored Soul~ said...

I absolutely adored the interview, and find it extremely fascinating that the premise of the book was derived from an actual incident, and time that the author spent in the South. Also, my question to her would be: If you could choose to dine with, or spend the day with, one author (living or deceased)-who would you choose?

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Linda Kish said...

I enjoyed getting to know Cathy but I'd like to know more about the "scaled creature that lived in her carport shed and a magical phone that hung in her family’'s bathroom that could be used to summon an English butler".

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Cathy said...

Great interview! Really unique quesstions. I love her repsonse on advice to writers - reading and writing go hand in hand and write what you know. I recently read an article on how you should write what you know but take it one step further and also let your imagination and research inspire you...the options are limitless as a writer...I'd want to ask Cathy Holton what she thinks about the balance between writing what she knows and writing what she's been influenced by? Thanks for sharing with us all!!

G. said...

Without a doubt a person born to be a writer. What a wonderful childhood memory! Would love to read the book, thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

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LAMusing said...

I'd ask her if she plots out her story in detail before she starts writing?
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Misusedinnocence said...

I would ask what the authors favorite musical is. :)

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Nancye said...

I loved learning about how she decided to become an author. She could've been insulted when she overheard being called a liar, but instead she decided to turn it into something good.

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rubynreba said...

How do you pick a cover for your book - when you start the book or after it is done?
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