INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR *Patricia Snodgrass*
Today I’m interviewing PATRICIA SNODGRASS. Her book, Glorious is a Southern Gothic and was released on October 1, 2010.
Please tell my readers a little bit about your book.
Glorious is set during the Civil Right’s era. I was a child during that time and living in a very rural area. I remember those times as being frightening and chaotic. There was racism, sexism, political upheavals, the bomb…not just any bomb but THE BOMB…and desegregation. It felt as if the world would end at any time.
Almost everyone had desegregated during this time, but there were still pockets of more isolated areas that hadn’t got the memo. The fictional town of Overton, Arkansas was one of those pockets.
Glorious deals with a great many issues, a lot of which have reared their ugly heads after Obama became president. Women’s rights, racism, child abuse, political posturing are all addressed in the novel. What is also addressed is friendship, acceptance, love, loyalty and faithfulness. Those concepts tend to get forgotten because of the intensity of the book, and I have to admit it’s a very intense book. I haven’t had anyone yet come up to me and say it was an easy read. But everyone has agreed it is a riveting read. But the concepts are there, loyalty, friendship, acceptance and so on. I think it’s very important to balance that out…not everything is good or bad…it just is. One of my favorite scenes occurs whenever Jaydene and her brother and sister in law search for her husband who had a nervous breakdown after their daughter was killed. It was poignant, and loving. And yeah, it made me cry.
One thing I did do when writing Glorious was to think…if all things are equal, what happens when you tilt the scales? The African American family in my novel were the same as the African American friends and neighbors I grew up with. Marcus Wilkes was a loan officer at the bank, Jaydene was a registered nurse. Marc could have been a guy I went to high school with. And Glorious could have been anyone’s kid sister.
Everything looks so equal on the surface, doesn’t it? When the scales tip, it’s the Caucasian community that’s favored. But they didn’t get off scott free either. They suffered as well, by racism within their own community, by riots from people fed up with being meddled with and then there’s Stan’s regression into madness that sets Overton ablaze, literally. It’s the most complex novel I’ve ever written. Multi faceted, deeply layered…Glorious is my masterpiece. I don’t think I can ever top that kind of writing. And yes, it was every bit as intense to write as it was to read. At one point I almost stuck it into my desk drawer, but I changed my mind and sent it to my publisher.
As painful as these topics are, they need to be addressed, especially now, with the volatile political climate in which we live, with regressives yearning to return to that era, even going so far as to rewrite history. I read a few days ago where a GOP candidate stated that African American’s were better off as slaves because slavery kept their families in tact. Nothing could be further from the truth. Slavery, by it’s very nature, rips the family apart. We must never forget the lessons history teaches us. Glorious, as intense as it is, reminds us of those lessons.
Describe the genre of this particular title, and is the only genre you write in?
Glorious is a Southern Gothic story. It’s also been categorized as historical and suspense. I write in a wide variety of genres, from horror to suspense to paranormal romance. Hey, I’ll write about copper pots if I get paid for it.
When did you start writing toward publication?
When I was in high school I sent a short story to Analog Science Fiction Magazine. I got a hand written rejection slip from the editor in chief—very rare for that to happen, by the way—telling me to watch my grammar and clean my typewriter keys. I was also encouraged to keep writing. That was back in 1975, just after the Earth cooled.
I kept that rejection slip for years until it fell apart. I wish now I had copied and framed it.
Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?
I had an agent for several years but it came to nothing. I fired her and started sending out my own work and found a publisher almost immediately. I started with Samhain and Whispers, I’m writing exclusively for Mundania now. I did have four or five novels completed, two of which never went anywhere. The others are either published or scheduled for publication. I now have a dozen or so novels scheduled to write. I’m going to be busy for a while.
Why have you become a published author?
Because it beats being an unpublished author. Okay, now I’ll be serious, heh heh. I’m a published author because I felt I had something to say. I rarely got that opportunity because I was raised in a household full of loud boisterous males. I was the runt of the litter, small, and shy, and every time I tried to say something it got drowned out. Writing was a way I could communicate and be taken seriously. Finding out I was good at it was a plus.
Do you have any rejection stories to share?
My favorite is the one I mentioned earlier. When the editor in chief of Analog sent me a handwritten rejection letter.
What is your writing routine like?
I’m awake between 4-5 am. I usually go into my office by 7:30. Do a couple of hours of marketing and then write until 3:30. I treat it like the 8 hour job it is. As far as I’m concerned its no different than going to a mundane job and working in an office all day.
What sort of promo do you do? Do you have help?
I’m just now getting really geared up with my promoting. Until recently I was pretty clueless, then a treasure was literally dropped into my inbox. I don’t have any help yet, but I am putting out an open call for minions…er…interns…I need someone to moderate my forum at Coffee Time Romance and someone to help me keep track of all this promotional stuff. I’m completely overwhelmed. I’d much rather be writing than promoting. It’s making me cry and it’s not doing my reputation as a scary writer any good.
And although I can’t pay anyone to be my full time secretary I’m happy to have an intern or two. . . I pay in minion kibble. Heh heh.
Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?
Seeing my book in print. Being able to touch it, handle it, and smell the print. And getting paid for what I do is a big plus. And of course, I love reader feedback.
Are you a member of any writing organizations and, if so, have they helped?
I was a member of the North East Texas Writers Association for a year. I attended one of their conferences and it was great. But as a whole, no, I don’t think associations are all that helpful at this point. I cannot afford dues, nor can I go to writer’s conferences. I just don’t have the money. Maybe when my royalties pick up I can, but now it’s not feasible. It’s just another expense and money is brutally tight right now.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
My first thoughts come from a quote from the film Galaxy Quest: Never give up, never surrender. Heh. Heh.
On a more practical note, I would say that it’s important to find a publishing company that will be a good fit for you. Shop around. Read their submissions guidelines and follow them to the letter. When you make contact with an editor be polite, even if they are less than enthusiastic about your book. If an editor takes the time to make comments about your submission take the advice as it was intended, as a way to help. I learned more from my editors than I did in grad school. Follow the editor’s advice to the letter. If they say your novel needs work, then it needs work. Follow the instructions and resubmit. Don’t self publish. Although a few people have been successful, self publishing is mostly a sucker’s game. You don’t get the benefit of editorial feedback self publishing than you do with a traditional publisher. And editorial feedback is absolutely necessary when it comes to publishing a really good book.
What’s next for you?
Ahhh, tons…Marilyn, my paranormal romance is due out this August. The Man Who Loved Yolanda Dodson, comes out in the first quarter of 2012, Wild Swans is due out in June of 2012. These are all paranormal romances of a sort. There’s a sequel to Glorious that I’m currently working on called Glorious Arising. Hopefully I can have it sent in to the publisher by this fall. I have a science fiction novel to complete, and a couple of paranormal novels to do starting this winter. I’m going to be quite busy for some time.
Emily Prudhomme is terrified of her stepfather, and for good reason. A man who was raised by an abusive father and uncle, he is convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is talking to him personally through a radio he keeps in his office.
Emily, alienated by her stepfather’s bizarre behavior, is befriended by Glorious, an African-American girl with beautiful amber-colored eyes and the ability to see the thoughts of others. Outcast because of their differences, the girls become fast friends.
When a tragic accident occurs on the banks of the Little Missouri river leaving one girl dead and the other hopelessly maimed for life, rage and revenge creates a firestorm that not only destroys a town but the lives of two families.
A little bit about the author.
Patricia Snodgrass is a freelance author residing in the wilds of East Texas. She is married to the man of her dreams, has one adult son, is owned by an akita and a schnauzer, as well as varying number of cats. Today there are two.
Emily Prudhomme was afraid of God. She was afraid of her stepfather, who was God’s representative on earth. But most of all, she feared the demon that lurked inside her.
The monster forced the right side of her face to twitch, and occasionally, when she was especially frightened, it would utter bizarre yipping noises. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make it stop. In fact, the harder she tried, the worse it got. For as long as she could remember, people thought she was retarded, her schoolmates shunned her. The doctor told her mother that it was just a twitch that Emily would grow out of. But Stan knew what the real culprit was, and the only way to save her, he said, was to have the demon confronted in church.
Emily sat on the foot of her bed, staring into the mirror, waiting for the time to come when she would have to go to church—to Stan’s church— and not to the little sandstone Episcopalian building in Prescott, Arkansas, where she’d been baptized and spent her childhood.
No, Stan’s house of worship was quite different, and she was afraid of the God that dwelt there.
Emily regarded her reflection in the mirror. At thirteen, she wasn’t quite pretty; and it was just as well as far as her step dad was concerned. Pretty girls were silly, vain, lustful and inattentive in their duty to God. They were a problem because boys sniffed like redbone hounds around them, wanting only one thing, and girls were too weak willed to resist. Or so Stan constantly reminded her.
I don’t think it would matter if I were pretty, really, she thought. Nobody would come near me, not with the way my face jumps.
Stan wasn’t a horrible man Emily chided herself. He hadn’t beaten her, nor had he starved her, nor did any terrible things stepparents were legendary for. He did stare at her chest, but it was always in a thin-lipped, disapproving way that made her feel like she’d done something dirty.
He was strict, and did expect her to live by his rules, which in a way was a relief. Everyone in the small town of Overton knew the evangelical pharmacist, and many tended to steer clear of him. So when the ‘cooler’ kids tried to tempt her, she’d say no because Stan would get mad. They would shiver ever so slightly and nod; then walk away.
Stan’s commandments were simple: No boys. No jewelry, flashy dresses, slacks or pant suits. No cigarettes. No booze or drugs and absolutely no makeup. Come home, do your chores and homework. Read your Bible. Pray. Attend church. Pray.
That was the Gospel According to Stan, the stepfather and God’s representative. Nobody knew more about the Bible than Stan. And he knew there were demons because the Good Book said so.
Emily took her rubber tipped brush and flung it at the mirror, which bounced off with a soft ‘shlack’ as it struck the polished surface.
Of all the men in the world, why did Momma marry him? She wondered. If he were the last man on earth, I wouldn’t go near him.
Deep down, she knew the answer. Laura hadn’t married Stan Gilmer for love, or for companionship or even sex. Emily was certain of that because she could hear her mother weeping between the steady poundings of the headboard against her bedroom wall.
No, Laura had grown weary of subsisting off the laundry room attendant salary at the Renault Nursing home, and when Stan Gilmer, a pharmacist with a flourishing business, took an interest in her, she took a chance.
The quiet knock on the door made her jump. “Em?” her mother called as she opened the door.
Emily winced, then wiped the tears away. Laura Prudhomme Gilmer was beautiful, once. But now her face sagged from beneath the delicate cheekbones, and without makeup, her eyes seemed to have perpetual circles around them. Her hair, a soft golden brown, was stacked and shellacked into a beehive that was much too severe for her thin face. Her oversized calico dress hung to her ankles. Thick white socks protruded from heavy shoes. Laura frowned as she sat down on the bed.
“Better not let Stan catch you primping,” she said.
Emily’s face twitched. Automatically, she covered it. “I’m just putting up my hair, Momma.”
Laura’s frown deepened. “Here, let me help you with that. It’s all wadded up in the back.”
Laura swept the awkwardly placed bobby pins out of her daughter’s hair. “It’s going to be okay,” her mother said as she gave Emily’s wiry wooly hair an expert twist, and then pinned the bun down onto the back of her head. “There’s no need to be afraid. It’s just one of their—” her voice lowered, “—one of their silly ceremonies. Let’s go and get it over with. It’ll make Stan happy, and then you and I can enjoy a pizza while he attends that ridiculous city council meeting.”
“Momma,” she asked, her throat tight, “do I really have a demon inside me?”
“No, of course not,” Laura said, her hands hovering just above her daughter’s head. “That’s just more asinine talk. You have a tic, that’s all. My cousin Adrian had one too. But you know how well Stan listens. And as long as we live in his house, we have to play by the rules.” She smiled, but it was a smile of the soul weary. “For a while, at least, until he mellows out a bit.”
“I suppose so.”
“Well, it’s better than it was before. We’re not living in that old shack, us just scraping by on what I made.”
“But I liked it there, Momma. Prescott was home. And Daddy—”
Laura laid her cheek against Emily’s hair. “I know. I miss him too. But Daddy’s not coming home again and we’re on our own.” Her lips twitched into a smile. “At least we don’t go hungry any more, and I don’t have to worry about getting poisoned again when some stupid nurse leaves a needle in the bedding.”
“If we could wait another year, I could go to work.”
“No. I won’t have you doing that. You’re going to college. Have a career, a real career where you don’t have to rely on anyone but yourself.”
“I don’t think Stan will let me.”
Laura scowled. “That’s not up to him.”
“I just wish he wasn’t such a—” Emily whispered.
Emily giggled. Her face twitched. “Yeah.”
“Well,” Laura whispered, “he’s really more of a sexist piggy. But that’s because he hasn’t been around women much. Stan’s uncle raised him after his father died and you’ve seen how fanatical he is. So we just have to educate the man a bit. And once he relaxes, you’ll see that he’s really a big old teddy bear.”
“He scares me,” Emily whispered.
“He doesn’t mean it,” Laura said. “He’s got a good heart, honest. Stan’s just a lonely and confused man, but he’ll come around soon.” She slipped a tiny necklace over Emily’s head.
“He makes you cry.”
Again, Laura frowned. “I just need to adjust,” she said, her tone vague. She clasped the tiny gold chain around Emily’s slender neck, deftly hiding it beneath Emily’s ugly Peter Pan collar.
“I kept this when Stan went through his gold and costly array rampage. Now I want you to keep it under your dress so he can’t see it. It was your father’s last gift to you before he went—over there—and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have it.”
“You miss Daddy too don’t you, Momma?” Emily asked as she gazed at her mother’s reflection in the mirror.
“More than you’ll ever know,” Laura whispered in her ear.
Both of them jumped when they heard the front door slam. “He’s here,” Laura said, straightening her dress. “Let’s not keep him waiting.” She planted a quick kiss on her daughter’s cheek. “We’ll get through this, I promise. Maybe we’ll found our own liberation front, starting with getting rid of these awful dresses. And remember, after church, pizza and Cokes.”
Emily giggled. Then, holding her cheek, pressing the warm kiss to her face, she followed her mother downstairs.
How can my readers buy your book?
Readers can go to the publisher’s home page at http://www.mundania.com/book.php?title=Glorious. My current home page is under construction. But my minions gather at my Facebook Fan Page located here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patricia-Snodgrass-Author-and-Scary-Lady/328575081247.