Anyway, thank you for journeying all the way to Elflandia!
Ms. Edwards: Thank you for inviting me, although your last interviewee is a tough act to follow. She's amazing.
Link to your blog?
Ms. Edwards: Wait, I'm not done. She's creative, humble, funny; a gifted and talented writer. I can’t say enough great things about her.
Anyhoo, I blog at kkellie: write me. I write about writing mostly because, you know. :)
Why don't you tell us a bit about your book?
Ms. Edwards: First thing to come to mind is innocence versus evil. Yikes.
The narrator is an eleven-year-old kid named Mike. Since his dad died, Mike's been taking care of his weird brother Albert--weird because of how he looks, and because the kid gets episodes--sees bad things happen in his head, bad people doing bad things.
Mom drinks. A lot. Since the boys' dad died, Mom's developed a taste for Jack Daniel's and rotten men. Her first boyfriend is real asshole but this one . . . this one's a killer. Albert sees the guy kidnap a girl, hurt her bad and shoot her in the head. Albert tells Mike and Mike tells their mom but she doesn't believe him. They should tell the cops except for one thing: Jerkface Knowles is a cop. And he just scared Albert into telling what he saw. The two brothers are on their own--they have to figure out how to stop that fucker before he kills another kid.
Just have to stay alive long enough to do it.
What inspired you to write this story?
Ms. Edwards: I'd been kicking around the idea of a story told by a kid, first person POV, suspense, for sure--his little brother sees bad things. That's as far as my idea went. Then NaNoWriMo 2012 reared its ugly head and a fellow writer over at Absolute Write talked me into giving it a shot. She's really persuasive, so enthusiastic, a wonderful writer and. . .
Don't get me started. :)
Anyhoo, I sat down and started writing. The characters came to me instantly, no problem. The story? Oy.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Ms. Edwards: The whole process was hard. It was like pulling teeth the whole way. By the end of NaNo last year I'd only managed 3000 words. Took nine months to drag most of it out of me, another two to write the ending. The ending almost killed me.
The best part?
Ms. Edwards: Mike and Albert. I love 'em. They feel real to me which is weird because, you know. :)
Who was your favorite character to write?
Ms. Edwards: Mike narrates the story so I spent a lot of time with him, really got to know that kid inside and out. Little Albert is so sweet, a little sweetie pie but Mike. Oh man. That kid goes through some shit.
What motivates your characters?
Ms. Edwards: For Mike and Albert I'd say love first, responsibility second. Self-preservation third. For the cop, motives are base. That's the theme throughout my novels, I think--protagonists motivated by love; antagonists, by base desires. For that cop, it's this twisted desire for power, fueled by anger and resentment, amplified by a sick lust for little girls.
He's a horrible, horrible man.
Do you ever kill characters? (You don't have to answer that!)
Ms. Edwards: I have. Some innocent; some, not so much. Tougher for me is when I hurt the characters I care about, hurt them physically, emotionally. I have to gird my loins. Sometimes I cry.
The first thing I noticed about your novel is its strong voice. Which accent do you use in the novel?
Ms. Edwards: Thank you. The accent, vernacular, whatever you want to call it is something that just came to me. I made it up. Eek. Because the story is told by Mike, first person POV pretty much, voice had to sound real and be consistent throughout the book. I worked really hard on that and fretted about it because I knew I had to nail it.
Is this your personal accent, or did you learn it for the novel?
Not mine, I'm a Michigander by way of New England and like I said, I pretty much winged it. I posted some excerpts on AW's SYW forum to double-check that I was still on the right track. Folks there are wonderful, btw. So supportive, so smart and wise and talented. . .
Don't get me started. :)
Tell us a little about yourself. What are you reading these days?
Ms. Edwards: I started writing by accident. Literally. I was a teacher, taught little kids. Loved it. Then I fell off a chair and all kinds of weird shit happened physically. Foot and back and fusions blah blah. I couldn't teach and I was down, really down. Then my husband suggested I try fiction writing. I always loved to write; that, and draw. Decent at both. Anyhoo, I gave it a shot and now it's in my blood. Like a virus or something. :)
Currently I'm reading three different things: my own stuff, a 90K fantasy manuscript, and a novel by Jeffrey Deaver--slogging through that one. The manuscript I'm reading is by someone I met through AW, an amazing writer and an amazing story. I am blown away. The talent out there is incredible.
Where did you grow up?
Ms. Edwards: Michigan, in a suburb of Detroit. I was born in Massachusetts and have spent a lot of time in the New Bedford area. My Gram and Gramp lived there. I love it there.
What are you working on now?
Ms. Edwards: Well, I'm tweaking EFFIN' ALBERT as I wait on my second round of betas, who are so awesome. I am so lucky. And I'm trying to get CHERRY published. Right now the full is out there, a couple of agents and an indie publisher are considering it. Waiting is part and parcel but ugh.
I started a new novel at the beginning of this year's NaNo, got three cpts. in then set it aside so I could concentrate on ALBERT. I have three other novels waiting in the wings for me to tweak. I think they're all decent and could be viable. First, though, ALBERT and CHERRY.
Do you have a sequel planned, or something new?
Ms. Edwards: Already answered the second part. As for any kind of sequel, no. I've written five complete novels now, all stand-alones. Don't know why. I wish I could write sequels. I have to write what comes to me and thus far, what has come to me are discrete stories, complete in one volume. Except CHERRY, in that one, the ending was kind of nebulous, so. . .
It's my observation that books seem to reflect their writers. What aspect of you is reflected in your book?
Ms. Edwards: Yikes, I'm everywhere. Especially in EFFIN' ALBERT. A lot of the things that happen to those two kids happened to me, or to somebody I know. For instance, that beginning scene when Mike's feeding the worm--I did that. The escalator scene? Happened to me and my sister. My brother-in-law drew a black dot on his nose with permanent marker one Halloween. A sister-in-law smacked her gum on a table and cut herself four new teeth, just like that. My dad died when I was four, we kids pretty much took care of ourselves. I had a lot of the same feelings Mike has, emotions bubbling up, being afraid, feeling helpless, screwing up, finding out how strong I was.
Would you like to leave us with a quote from your book/query?
Ms. Edwards: My query for EFFIN' ALBERT is in process so I shall leave you with an excerpt from the book. Thank you, btw.
Okay, here we go.
I don’t want to think about if it ain’t the right way so I think about that girl. Amy. I don’t know her last name. Maybe it’s Wong then I remember the dad ain’t Chinese so probably it ain't Wong, probably it’s a plain name like Smith.
Amy Smith. She got real shiny black hair. I bet that’s why he picked her. Amy Smith, you better watch out. He’s making my brother tell your last name, he got my brother where are you Albert? Please be okay. Please do what he wants don’t let him hurt you Albert, please—
I’m crying again and don’t even know. It’s so hot. I try to stop crying and finally I do, I think ‘cause I’m dried up.
The tent’s way back there, I can see the top of it from the ditch. I don’t remember walking so far. There’s a big field on my side of the road, I don’t know what they got growing, oats or wheat maybe. Across the street there’s another field, who cares what they got growing in it, I don’t care, I just wanna go home. I want Mom. I want my brother. I want a big giant bottle of Coke, ice cold Coke so cold your skin freezes to the glass. I don’t care, I don’t care if my skin freezes to the glass and peels right off.
I think I got heat stroke. You go crazy and start thinking weird stuff then you go unconscious then you die which means I’m gonna die but I can’t go no further, I just can’t or maybe I don’t want to. Maybe I just want to die right here.
I get myself out of the ditch and sit cross-legged like a Indian ready to die. The ground’s hard and little rocks hurt my butt but I don’t care. I say a prayer for Albert, Dear God, protect my brother from Jerkface Fucker Knowles.
Then I shut my eyes and wait for the ax to fall.
Me: Good luck and thanks for everything!