I so enjoyed your program on Thursday as well as talking with you afterwards about the writing life!
I was most intrigued by the excerpt from “Worthy” that you read–not just the interesting goings-on, but your descriptive style.
So, having an afternoon and evening full of tasks, naturally, I ignored them all, sat down with your book, and except for answering a few texts from my grown children and putting a rudimentary dinner on the table, I couldn’t put it down and basically stayed with the book until I finished it at 11:30 pm.
( and I must tell you that I haven’t done such a thing since Cold Mountain came out!)
What a delight your book is! Such a page-turner! Such a wonderful heroine and fascinating supporting characters! Your action sequences were so well done, one was right there while reading! Descriptions of people, places and folkways revealed either good research or a close understanding of the world in Rockingham country.I’m inclined to think the latter from what you said. In any case, your descriptions put one right there too.
I also found the dialogue to be natural and convincing, as were the characters. Regional accents can be so annoying in fiction, esp if not done well, but yours was more dialect rather than accent and was completely effective and realistic.
Worthy, like some of her literary ancestors in True Grit and Winters Bone, not to mention, Jane Eyre, and several of Jane Austen’s heroines, is indeed a “worthy” descendant of those fictional notables. We root for her on every page!
I was so interested in your comments about the 8 archetypes, and could partially see how you followed those notions. I’ve forgotten most of what I learned from Joseph Campbell, so if you have a moment I would so appreciate your mentioning those 8. I recall the Guardian–which would have been Mrs Johnson, yes?Also Ellanyer, or was she in perhaps a wise elder category?
The weaving in of the Melungeon people and their history added a fascinating note to the story and made one want to know more. Not being from this area, that was all new to me.
I found it refreshing that your most wicked character was a woman. So often today, the male figures are all bad, it gets discouraging.
I also liked that you let Worthy keep her virginity, though sorely tempted. That’s certainly rare in today’s fiction or film. I grew up just a few years after her time and that was what girls did. (maybe the rural South was different from suburban Catholic New York where I grew up, but my experiences extended beyond that geography and the “rules”still held!)Also, the boys, knew, as Bud did, to politely back off when signals were given. Or they themselves knew the boundaries and didn’t push them, didn’t even need signals.. Such a nice way to have a vibrant dating life without excess complications and stress!
I have a few quibbles. I kept wondering what made Ruby so nasty. Hattie, we get, she is a true psychopath, evil incarnate. But Ruby seems to have been wounded to the point of total meanness, so that she can never love or trust anyone, though she did seem to love Hank.. One wonders about her background. Unless I missed something, all the hints that she is a Melungeon are not fully resolved in a satisfying way for the reader. The “secrets” in their household that are mentioned on the first page…again , unless I missed it, I was still wondering…
The other quibble is that there are more than one or two typos. The name Thomas came out several times as Thom-as, and many other hyphens went astray throughout the book. Page 97 has some odd word placements. Maybe this was an issue with the computer program?
I mention these things because I ‘m looking forward very much to your next book and I know you want it to be thoroughly professional, worthy of reviewing by seasoned people, etc. Usually after 2 or 3 typos, some folks are likely to turn away.
I would also take a look at your occasional use of the passive tense in sentences where the active tense would be more appropriate. In a novel there is so much going on(I personally am in awe of anyone who writes one!) but it is important that every sentence match the high quality of the book.
I hope you won’t mind my presumption in offering these suggestions. Writing is such a solitary process, we writers have to help each other, don’t you think? You clearly have much talent for fiction–that’s the part that can’t be learned! Things I mention are all about the mechanics and can readily be fixed with a good copy editor, or a few friends doing read-throughs with red pencil.
Finally, congratulations on having the talent and ability to stay the course with this complex, invigorating book. I found it a great pleasure to read and will eagerly pass on to friends.
Best of wishes, and please let me know when the next book comes out!