Tuesday, July 5, 2011

THE TALK-FUNNY GIRL: AUTHOR INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY


GIVEAWAY ENDED 
THE TALK-FUNNY GIRL
BY ROLAND MERULLO

ABOUT THE BOOK:
In one of the poorest parts of rural New Hampshire, teenage girls have been disappearing, snatched from back country roads, never to be seen alive again.  For seventeen-year-old Marjorie Richards, the fear raised by these abductions is the backdrop to what she lives with her own home, every day.  Marjorie has been raised by parents so intentionally isolated from normal society that they have developed their own dialect, a kind of mountain hybrid of English that displays both their ignorance of and disdain for the wider world.  Marjorie is tormented by her classmates, who call her “The Talk-funny girl,” but as the nearby factory town sinks deeper into economic ruin and as her parents fall more completely under the influence of a sadistic cult leader, her options for escape dwindle.  But then, thanks to a loving aunt, Marjorie is hired by a man, himself a victim of abuse, who is building what he calls “a cathedral,” right in the center of town.
 
Day by day, Marjorie’s skills as a stoneworker increase, and so too does her intolerance for the bitter rules of her family life.  Gradually, through exposure to the world beyond her parents’ wood cabin thanks to the kindness of her aunt and her boss, and an almost superhuman determination, she discovers what is loveable within herself.  This newfound confidence and self-esteem ultimately allows her to break free from the bleak life she has known, to find love, to start a family, and to try to heal her old, deep wounds without passing that pain on to her husband and children.
 
By turns darkly menacing and bright with love and resilience, The Talk-Funny Girl is the story of one young woman’s remarkable courage, a kind of road map for the healing of early abuse, and a testament to the power of kindness and love. 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Roland Merullo is the author of the Revere Beach trilogy, A Little Love Story, Golfing with God, and Breakfast with Buddha. A graduate of Brown University, he lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:
1. Welcome, and thank you for agreeing to an interview for BOOKIN‘ WITH BINGO. Is there any personal information you would like to start out with today?
 I’m the author of 13 books, nine of them novels.  I live in New England with my wife and two daughters, and there’s lots of information at my web site, RolandMerullo.com

2.  Where did you get the inspiration or idea for this book?
I’m not sure exactly.  Part of it came from an incident I witnessed in a convenience store in southern Vermont many years ago.  There was a young mother in there with her very young child.  The child ran down the aisle and knocked over a few cans, and the mother grabbed him and yelled at him and the things she said were so shocking to me—a weird combination of racism and absolute stupidity—that it made me wonder what kinds of lives were being lived just down the dirt roads in those hills.  I think rural poverty in America is one of the best-kept secrets in this country.  We never see those people, never hear about them.  They rarely make the news, but there is a whole underclass living terribly meager lives in the back woods of this land.  I wanted to give them voice.

3. How did the title of your book come about?
Well, the main character, Marjorie Richards, grows up in the woods of New Hampshire with parents who try to keep her isolated from society.  They themselves live such an isolated life that they develop their own dialect, an odd, ungrammatical hybrid of English.  At one point I wrote the whole novel in that dialect, but then I realized that it would be too hard for the reader to follow, so I narrated it in standard English and kept the dialect in portions of the dialogue.  The kids in school call her the talk-funny girl, and that’s the title.

4. Do you see yourself in your characters? Which characters are easiest or more difficult to write?
In this case I am a middle-aged man writing about a young woman, a girl really.  My feeling is that we all have more in common than we like to admit.  We all want love and comfort, we all have fears and dreams.  I try to write my characters at that deep level, rather than focusing on the more superficial differences between men and women, young and old, rich and poor, etc.  There are little pieces of me in many of my characters; they’re almost always a mix of three ingredients:  something of me, things I’ve observed, and traits that are purely imagined.  I don’t find any type of character easier or harder to write, though scenes when there are multiple characters are more complicated technically.  I studiously avoid taking a person straight from life and putting him or her on the page.

5. What books would you say have made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out? What are you currently reading?
In college I was exposed to the great Russian writers—Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy especially—and they made a huge impression on me.  When I was writing my first novel, Robert Stone’s A Flag for Sunrise and James Jones’ From Here to Eternity were extremely helpful to me.  But I read across a wide spectrum, from Virginia Woolf to Alan Furst, from Anita Brookner to Graham Greene.  I tend to like to read mystical and psychological books, religious books across the whole spectrum—Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Moslem.  I have a small library in my house and will go to a novel or a non-fiction book and re-read a few pages just to be inspired in a certain way.  I am in the midst of a novel right now and when that happens I usually don’t read anything.

6. What is the next or current book/project you are working on?
I’m writing a novel about a devout Catholic woman who has a rich prayer life and feels called to do something that is exceedingly difficult for her.  Part of it takes place in Italy.

7. What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably don’t know?
I’m a very good carpenter, a better than average golfer, a not very good swimmer, and being a father is the most important thing in the world to me.  I speak Russian well and Italian so-so and English with a strong Boston accent.

8. 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?
No, I do not.  I’m very old fashioned, even wrote many of my early novels longhand, and I still sometimes write chapters longhand.  At first I was worried about them; now I think, as long as people keep reading, it doesn’t matter that much to me how they read.  I still worry about “sharing” which is a nice word for stealing in many cases.  But people share print books, too.  I hope bookstores find a way to stay in business.  I think they will.  Every good town has a bookstore.

9. What is your advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?
Find another way to have an income.  Learn to deal with rejection.  Remember to make the work most important and don’t get caught up in the business end of things more than you have to.  Avoid envy and bitterness.  I have a little book on this subject, in fact, just published from AJAR Contemporaries:  Demons of the Blank Page.  It’s not about the technical side of things, but about the emotional side:  writer’s block, rejection, choosing readers, managing time, etc.  That is the part that separates success from failure, I think.  Lots of people can write a good sentence, but not so many people can deal with the ups and downs of this life.  If you love it, just keep doing it, never give up, and take what comes of that.
Thank you so much, Roland, for a really interesting interview and wonderful book for my readers!
 
PRAISE FOR THE TALK-FUNNY GIRL:
“In the searing tradition of Bastard out of Carolina and Ellen Foster… Merullo not only displays an inventive use of language in creating the Richards’ strange dialect but also delivers a triumphant story of one lonely girl’s resilience.” 
--Booklist

 "Roland Merullo's book, The Talk-Funny Girl, takes place in the gritty real world, but is rooted in a mythic world.  I loved the inventiveness, the bits of unusual language, the heart-wrenching story, and the remarkable portrait of a troubled but gutsy girl who battles her way toward happiness.  One of the best novels I have ever read. A book for the ages."
--Anita Shreve, author of Rescue

"Roland Merullo has created not just a unique voice but a unique language for seventeen-year-old Marjorie Richards, but what makes The Talk-Funny Girl unforgettable is its young heroine's refusal to succumb to the evil that surrounds her. What a brilliant, great-hearted novel this is." 
--Ron Rash, author of Serena and Burning Bright

GIVEAWAY
THANKS TO KATIE AND CROWN AND
RANDOM HOUSE PUBLISHING, I HAVE
TWO COPIES TO GIVE AWAY OF 
THE TALK-FUNNY GIRL
 
--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 WHAT YOU READ ABOVE ABOUT THE TALK-FUNNY GIRL THAT MADE YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT AUTHOR ROLAND MERULLO BY READING THE AUTHOR INTERVIEW ABOVE AND CHECKING OUT HIS WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, YOU MAY COMMENT SEPARATELY TO RECEIVE EXTRA ENTRIES

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, JULY 19

128 comments:

Bethie said...

This sounds like a story of courage and growth. I think this is something that I would enjoy.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

I follow on GFC

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debbie said...

I would like to read this book. I would like to see how the girl escapes her family, and learns to live without the abuse.
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debbie said...

I am a email subscriber.
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lag123 said...

I would love to read this to see how Marjorie overcomes her painful childhood. Thank you for the giveaway.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

debbie said...

I learned he worked for the USIA in the former soviet union.
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lag123 said...

Tweeted: https://twitter.com/lag32583/status/88192547519856640

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lag123 said...

I learned that Roland once worked for the United States Information Agency in the former Soviet Union.

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Margie said...

This sounds like a very inspirational book. I would like to read about how the main character overcomes her difficult past.
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Margie said...

I like the author's comment that we all need love and comfort, and we all have fears and dreams.
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ann said...

Sounds like a great reading book. With all the things happening in this world today, this seems to cover some of them and gives how someone else solved these issues and problems within their lives

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ann said...

His books have been translated in different languages. And he does lot of talks and speaches at colleges and universitys.

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Tore said...

This sounds like a very good and interesting book with alot of strong characters. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read it. Tore923@aol.com

Carol N Wong said...

This book sounds very interesting with the parents developing their kind of dialet in order to isolate their daughter. How cruel! It is also very inspiring that her aunt and her boss gave her support and helped to get her out of the vicious circle of abuse.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I would really like to read this book. It is so cruel for parents to try to isolate a child and go as far as to create a dialect so she could not be understood. The book sounds inspiring with her aunt and the girl's boss giving her support so that she can get out of the spiral of abuse.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

My Twitter name is Carolee888 and I tweeted:


http://t.co/E7oo13mGiveaway of 'The Talk Funny Girl'


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Carol N Wong said...

The author has had a variety of occupations:
1. working at a parking garage

2, Worked for U.S. Intelligence Agency when the Soviet Union existed

3. Peace Corp Worker in Micronesia

4. Carpenter

5. Creative Writing and Literature teacher in colleges


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Linda Kish said...

I'd like to read how she grows away from the restrictive life she grew up in and how she learns to deal in the real world.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I see he served in the Peace Corps. That's cool.

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Linda Kish said...

I am an email subscriber

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I am a GFC follower

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maryf said...

this is a story about a little back woods small town that is struggling to survve and the folks in it, like so many small towns int he usa, many people can probably relate to this story

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maryf said...

The author sometimes adds himself in a book as a charactar it would seem and sometimes writes stories about things he has seen or witnessed in his life with his family

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maryf said...

I follow via GFC

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bison61 said...

they have developed their own dialect-that sounds very interesting

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holdenj said...

It sounds like an interesting story, I think the idea of the girl having her own style of language is interesting.
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holdenj said...

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I subscribe via RSS feed.
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Bethie said...

I am an email subscriber

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Sue Farrell said...

I am interested in a book that is about the rural poor---we live in an area of where there are people that are extremely wealthy living not far from some in extreme poverty so I think I could relate to it.
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mamabunny13 said...

I love a happy ending. It sounds like this story has one.
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Amy (ArtsyBookishGal) said...

This book sounds intriguing! I love characters that are quirky and have unusual circumstances...and rise above them.

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Renee said...

love stories of someone overcoming family issues

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Renee said...

we all have one unusual job - a parking garage. wonder what stories could come from that job?

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Amy (ArtsyBookishGal) said...

I think it's interesting that Roland Merullo writes some of his chapters long-hand still. I do the same things with pieces of my writing--somehow you feel more connected to the work.

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Misusedinnocence said...

This sounds like a great book, especially with the back drop of the abductions. I'm very interested in reading it.

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I follow on gfc.

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bloomerbear said...

Sounds good ...I love to read about New Hampshire...been there love the state and I have been to the poor parts

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thanks

~Enamored Soul~ said...

I absolutely love stories that showcase human strength and emotion. I am sure I've said this before too. I also think it would be absolutely intriguing to read about the "dialect" that the author has developed for usage by Marjorie and her family.

Thank you for this wonderful giveaway opportunity! :D

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~Enamored Soul~ said...

I tweeted the giveaway:

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~Enamored Soul~ said...

Wow, the list of jobs that author Roland Merullo has held is absolutely astonishing AND awe-inspiring. From working in a parking garage, to Peace Corp in Micronesia...plus, creative writing and such. I am sure he picked lots of fodder for thought during his experiences at these different & unique jobs.

Also, it's very exciting to know that Author Merullo's book "Leaving Losapas" is being commissioned to be made into a movie by John Turturro who I absolutely ADORE as an actor, and respect as a director! This is sheer awesomeness! :D

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I'm a GFC Follower.

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Mona said...

This sounds like a very inspirational story. I admire people who can overcome such hardship and go on to lead productive lives.

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Nancye said...

Any book with abductions and a "dialect of a mountain hybrid of English" must be pretty interesting!!

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Nancye said...

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Nancye said...

I discovered that this author has published 9 novels. That's a HUGE accomplishment!

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Mona said...

I find it interesting that he writes with a fountain pen, given to him by his wife, on yellow lined paper and THEN types it into the computer.

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