Today's Muse: Jill S. Alexander
Author of: The Sweetheart of Prosper County (my review here)
Want to win a copy of the book? Keep on reading! ~Contest closed! Thanks for entering!~
Bookworm: Welcome, Jill, and congrats on the release! So, tell us...what was the inspiration for The Sweetheart of Prosper County?
Jill: I journal quite a bit. The starting point is always an image--something real or imagined that I just can't let go of. In The Sweetheart of Prosper County, I really just began journaling about a small town parade with a band and sweethearts. I knew when I wrote the line, "Being a sweetheart must give a girl that kind of confidence," that I not only had a story, I had a feisty narrator who was done with being stuck on the curb.
Bookworm: Have you ever raised a farm animal like Austin did in the book?
Jill: I never had a rooster of my very own, but I did have a registered Hereford bull named Buster. I grew up in a rural area with lots of farmers in the family. My grandfather raised calves, but my great uncle raised fighting roosters. I was always fascinated by the Bantam rooster stories.
Bookworm: What parts of the book were based off of real situations/people you knew or know?
Jill: Although my characters are all composites, Lafitte Boudreaux is based on my grandfather. Also, in high school, I worked for Mason's True Value Hardware store on the downtown square in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Gray's True Value is my recollection of the interior of that store.
To me, the setting in Sweetheart functions like a character, too. Prosper County is a fictional place made up of real images from small towns all across Texas, but it is an environment with which the characters interact. I love what Eudora Welty said about setting, "Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else." Setting for me is more than just background.
Bookworm: What is your "cover story", or how did your book end up with the cover that it did?
Jill: The art department at Feiwel & Friends rocks. Just sayin'. I don't have one of those cover "drama" stories. Rich Deas and his team designed the cover, sent me the image, and I thought it was amazing. They did a wonderful job of capturing the whimsy surrounding Austin's journey. Charles Dickens looks like a little Napoleon sitting for his formal portrait.
Bookworm: I totally agree--the cover is one of my favorites, it's just so cute!
Bookworm: If you could meet any character from the book, who would you choose?
Jill: That's a tuffy. I feel like I know all of them, but if I had to choose one to come to life and sit down for a chat--I'd probably pick Lewis. I want to ride on the purple chopper.
Bookworm: What's next, writing-wise?
Jill: Feiwel & Friends has acquired my second novel Paradise and His Smokin' Squeezebox. And let me tell you, it's going to be HOT. I'm working to finish it in time for the Fall 2010 list.
Bookworm: What are your favorite things to do when you're not writing?
Jill: Goodness! I love to travel when I have the time. I also enjoy watching my son play sports.
Random Bonus Question: How hot is it in Texas right now? J
Jill: I can't believe I'm writing this, but we are having a cool snap. The temp is in the 80's which is very unusual. It's football season in the land of Friday Night Lights. This is the perfect kickoff weather! Tailgate time! J
Thanks so much, Jill! The Sweetheart of Prosper County was released on September 1st, so congrats on the release!
Check out Jill's super-cool website here
Interested in winning a copy of Jill's book The Sweetheart of Prosper County? I have one signed copy to give away, courtesy of Jill (thanks, Jill!). To enter, here's all you need to do:
a) comment below with your name and email address (no email address, no entry)
b) bonus point for following my blog!
No international entries, please: US and Canada only! This contest will end on October 1st, 2009, so enter, enter, enter!