Monday, February 18, 2013

Meet Shelly Frome

Hello and welcome! We're so glad you stopped by the JLB Creatives Blog to find out who we're featuring this week. But before we get to that, I'd just like to commend those of you who continue to support our featured artists and the JLB Creatives Blog through tweeting, sharing on FB, Pinning, and so many other ways. You're the ones who keep JLB Creatives thriving with new content and cool things to discover in the literary world.

Now, to the real reason you're here - this week we were blessed to catch an interview with a stunning author. So without any further delay, we bring you our chat with. . .

Author Shelly Frome

A zealous fan approaches your book signing table and wants to know everything there is to know about writing a book…right now! There’s a long line of fans waiting, and you only have a few seconds…what one thing would tell them to encourage them to become a writer?

A creative writing instructor at a noted Midwest college used to advise his students not to write. To put the notion aside. If and when there’s a haunting image, cherished assumption that no longer holds true or some unknown secret that keeps prodding you and won’t let go, then you’re probably ready to begin.

What book or books are you currently working on? Can we expect a new release soon?

Tinseltown Riff, my Hollywood escapade, is scheduled to be released some time this Spring. It’s a tale that straddles the invisible line between illusion and reality, fantasy and danger as it delves into the loopiest business on earth.  An L.A. film agent recently wrote that even though she loves the milieu and the dynamics, Ben, my desperate hack screenwriter is basically a nice guy and nice guys aren’t trending right now. My publisher doesn’t agree. Hopefully readers will side with my publisher.

Do you prefer writing the good guy’s dialogue or the villain’s? Give us an example of your amazing talent…write us a line of dialogue from your favorite good guy or villain.

It’s not what Roy says so much. It’s how he thinks:

He winced as the scar across his jaw line from Bubba’s knife started to burn again. He reached inside his overalls, pulled out the tin of salve and rubbed some in.

Tossing the slouch cap back on the hook, he drifted out onto the porch, snatched up the binoculars and trained them on the tire tracks in the mud leading off the slope of the front yard and narrow track to Piney Woods Road. That was where the girl must have driven off, zigged and zagged till she hit Route 4, had to pull over and staggered the rest of the way to the hospital. Then got spooked by Roy’s phone call and hitched. If she was long gone, way past Memphis to Illinois or someplace, fine. But if she was in any way licking her wounds, figuring on easing her way back over the line, picking up where Bubba left off, or blabbing her mouth or worse . . .

Coming full circle, it was back to don’t-ever-jump-the-gun. And  best-let-the-quarry-come-to-you.  

We all love stories – especially yours! Would you be willing to give the readers a synopsis of this current book?

Twilight of the Drifter is a crime story with southern gothic overtones. It centers on thirty-something Josh Devlin, a failed journalist who, after a year of wandering, winds up in a Kentucky homeless shelter.

The crosscurrents go into motion as Josh comes upon a runaway named Alice holed up in an abandoned boxcar. Taken with her plight and dejected over his own squandered life, he spirits her back to Memphis and his uncle’s Blues Hall Café. As the story unfolds, a Delta bluesman’s checkered past comes into play and, inevitably, Josh finds himself on a collision course with Roy, a backwoods tracker fixated on the Civil War. And then, by extension, the machinations of the governor-elect of Mississippi

Creativity. Where does yours come from? This is something writers are asked about much of the time.  Would you be so kind as to elaborate on where you get your ideas and what sparks your creativity?

The Drifter is a prime example. At first I had no idea I was going to write a new novel.  As it happens, friends invited us down to a cabin they’d inherited in the backwoods of the hill country of Mississippi that dated back to the time of the Civil War. When Bob (the husband) and I took a walk and came upon a meandering creek strewn with fallen jagged limbs, something began to percolate.

Soon after, material kept coming to me while spending time in Memphis, Oxford and slipping partway into the Delta. Becoming more and more curious, I began interviewing people like Larry Wells who ran the Faulkner Press and moved on to a chat with a noted blues expert at Ole Miss. This led to a lot of reading about the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement and its aftermath in Mississippi, what it’s like to hop a freight, belief in angels, and the lives of bluesmen. From here I segued to listening to blues recordings, delving into Mississippi politics and all kinds of things including learning what it would be like to drift from Dayton, Ohio to the Deep South. Needless to say, by this point a compelling through-line took shape and continued to unfold.    

What are your favorite genres of books to read, and what are your favorite genres of books to write?

As a reader, I found I could readily identify with a character’s plight as long as there was something vital at stake. In due course, someone’s world had been turned upside down and impending trouble was just ahead. By the same token, the only possible venue for me had to have at least a touch of crime or danger. It can’t just be about relationships. It can’t just be another day. More often than not, I seem to be drawn to an irrepressible urge to right a great wrong.
For the first time in your writing career someone recognizes you as their favorite author, in public. Would you panic? Smile and bask in the moment? Blush and walk away? Invite them for coffee and cupcakes? Scream? Run? Faint?

Oddly enough, I would not only invite them for coffee but I’d be dying to know why. Why me? What about all the notable authors who are infinitely more well- known? Then. drawing from the Cowardly Lion but in reverse, I’d say, “What have I got that they haven’t got?”

Who is your favorite character that you have created? Tell us about him or her and why you are so fond of them.

I don’t know if she’s my all-time favorite. As we all know it’s like  asking, Who’s your favorite child? But I am quite taken with Alice. Some reviewer recently found her to be a cross between Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and Mattie Ross in True Grit.  All I know is that she’s barely fourteen, a runaway, has had a dreadful upbringing which amounts to no upbringing at all, and is a survivor. As a result, I never knew exactly what she was going to say or do, loved her cocky façade and hidden vulnerability, and was willing to follow her anywhere.

Of all the professions in this world you opted to be a writer. What brought you to it?

I’ve played the violin in a symphony orchestra, been a starving actor, director, playwright and acting coach. But the only experience that afforded me full rein was creative writing. I can do it anywhere and any time, even in my mind. Sometimes mainly in my mind. And I don’t have to worry whether or not the characters will show up and/or be able to play their parts. I’m not dependent on collaboration,  attracting  audiences or the limitations of the stage. On the other hand, there is the loopy publishing industry, promotion and something called the market. Luckily, I now have a publisher who furnishes me with a kind and understanding editor. And as long as I put my heart and soul into a project, one that’s worth the candle, I can do my best to help with promotion and work on something called a platform. But there is no axe hanging over my head and I can continue to explore.  
If you could spend a day with an author, who would it be? And of course we’ve got to know why.

I would love to spend a day with James Lee Burke who has received Edgar awards for two of his over twenty-five crime novels, grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast, taught creative writing at Wichita State University and holds the record for the most number of rejections of a novel that went on to become a best seller. A man who has had his work made into movies and seen and been through so much more than I can imagine given the safety and security of my college teaching days. I’m not sure a day would even begin to tap all I could gain from just being around and listening to him.

Where can we find your book(s)?

My books--both fiction and non-fiction--can be found on Amazon or the publishers’ catalogues and web sites.    

You can also stay in tune with Shelly's work from these cool links!


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Until next week. . .stay casual, live life to the fullest, and have a piece of chocolate for me.

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