The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Lori Roy and Bent Road

March 21, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Lori Roy’s spellbinding voice tells the suspenseful tale of her debut novel, Bent Road, coming to online retailers and your local bookstore on Thursday, March 31, 2011. And, although Bent Road runs through a small town in Kansas, this is far from the Kansas which Dorothy and Toto wished to return to.

Ironically, though, location has everything to do with the story. In fact the idea for the novel came to the author as a setting, explained and illustrated in the January 24, 2011 blog post, Never a Good Answer. Please take a look because Lori writes:

“One of the questions I am often asked, for which I really have no good answer is…Where did you get the idea for BENT ROAD? It would be simple if I could point to a single newspaper article or recount an old family story passed through the generations. But I can’t. The truth is, I don’t know where the idea came from, but I do know where it began. It began with setting. So today, I thought I’d share a few pictures taken from the setting that inspired BENT ROAD.”

Next came the cast of characters — the Scott family, their extended family, and neighbors. The young children, Eve-ie and Daniel, appeared to the author first with Arthur, their father, the slowest to develop. Eventually all the characters became clearly defined as their personal story unfolded with the plot. And that storyline evolved into the book’s synopsis:

For twenty years, Celia Scott has watched her husband, Arthur, hide from the secrets surrounding his sister Eve’s death. As a young man, Arthur fled his small Kansas hometown, moved to Detroit, married Celia, and never looked back. But when the 1967 riots frighten him even more than his past, he convinces Celia to pack up their family and return to the road he grew up on, Bent Road, and that same small town where Eve mysteriously died.

While Arthur and their oldest daughter slip easily into rural life, Celia and the two younger children struggle to fit in. Daniel, the only son, is counting on Kansas to make a man of him since Detroit damn sure didn’t. Eve-ee, the youngest and small for her age, hopes that in Kansas she will finally grow. Celia grapples with loneliness and the brutality of life and death on a farm.

And then a local girl disappears, catapulting the family headlong into a dead man’s curve. . . .

On Bent Road, a battered red truck cruises ominously along the prairie; a lonely little girl dresses in her dead aunt’s clothes; a boy hefts his father’s rifle in search of a target; a mother realizes she no longer knows how to protect her children. It is a place where people learn: Sometimes killing is the kindest way.

This Book Trailer is worth well more than a thousand words:

(If the video doesn’t appear on your monitor, please view it here).

The outstanding Praise and Reviews are worthy of attention. And there is also a brief Excerpt of Chapter 1 to begin your travels on Bent Road.

Have any goosebumps or is your heartbeat a bit faster? Indeed this remarkable novel causes those side effects without any trickery. For Lori Roy, with taut and exact prose, tells of normal and mundane life on a farm. There is baking and cooking, snow being cleared, and children forgetting to lock the cow within a gated enclosure. It’s real and believable, including Arthur’s reluctance to share what he knows of his sister’s death. But there are many other secrets being kept by those on Bent Road and — whether true or merely rumors — they lurk in the shadows and seep into the reader’s imagination. With each page turned, one anticipates the horror that is certain to appear.

However, when the frightening moments come, they are more stunning revelations than actual terror. With brilliant pacing — including the ebb and flow of tension –, The Divining Wand wondered how much the author actually knew what was going to happen. To avoid any *spoilers” no character names will be mentioned here but Lori admitted that even she had a “surprise” and a “shock” about a why as well as a who did what! And she further explains:

“Yet the bottom line was that everything made sense given the circumstances. I did not plot out the entire novel, but worked to integrate the plot and the arch of each character as events unfolded. The backstory and what happened twenty-five years earlier developed along with the front story, and after many rewrites, I wove the two together.”

Of course the title, Bent Road, is purposeful too since it suggests both of the book’s themes. The first is a reminder that one never knows what life holds around the corner, while the second substantiates how all individuals are shaped/influenced — positively and negatively — by past experiences. Embedded in those experiences are the secrets and rumors, both harmful and capable of impacting lives forever.

A literary suspense novel, a psychological thriller, a mystery, whatever Bent Road is categorized as it’s achingly beautiful and breathlessly solid. Lori Roy has taken an ordinary family to tell an extraordinary tale prepared to consume them all. Simply put, Bent Road (available next Thursday, March 31, 2011) is an excellent “must read!”

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Lori Roy’s Bent Road in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Lori Roy on Grandma’s Tarantula

March 15, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Every writer has their own distinctive voice that comes from somewhere beyond their style and develops over time. In today’s guest post, debut novelist Lori Roy (Bent Road coming March 31, 2011) explains where her [captivating] voice came from.]

Grandma’s Tarantula

I’m eight, maybe nine-years-old, and am running through Grandma’s backyard. But really it isn’t a yard. It’s all dirt—brown, loose dirt that blows in the wind—no grass. Kansas summers are dry. My hair is parted down the back, a crooked part I made myself, and tied off in two ponytails that hang over my shoulders. I wear sneakers, no socks,
because sand spurs are the only things that grow.

Two metal posts stand in Grandma’s backyard. They were once painted white but now the paint has chipped away in large chunks and the posts are stained with orange rust. Grandma’s clothesline is strung between them. The line sags when she hangs out her sheets and towels. At the base of the pole nearest the house is a hole in the ground about
the size of my fist. When I stand over the hole, I can see that it has no bottom. I might stick my hand down in it just to be sure but I don’t because Grandma says her pet tarantula lives down there.

Grandma says the tarantula comes out mostly at night because that’s when he does his hunting. The tarantula is a he. But sometimes, Grandma says, he’ll poke his head out in the daytime. He’ll hang two of his eight furry legs over the edge of his hole to sun himself. She visits with him when she hangs out her laundry.

At night, we play kick-the-can—my brother and I and the girls who live next door to Grandma. I run in a wide circle around the hole, afraid I might stumble upon that giant spider while he is scurrying about, doing his hunting. Even if it means someone beats me to base and I am “it,” I run in a wide arc to avoid that hole.

During the day, we play in the sod garage—my brother and I and the girls next door— because it’s always cooler there. Sometimes I help Grandma dump coffee grounds on her garden or spread the carrot and potato peelings that are good fertilizer and might as well not go to waste. While we work, I look for those hairy legs to tap along the rim of the hole, but I don’t ever see them. Grandma says the tarantula can feel us moving about and he won’t come out as long as we’re causing such a raucous.

It’s many years later, won’t say exactly how many, and I have a book coming out soon, my first. BENT ROAD. A few pre-publication reviews have been published, probably more by the time this is posted, and as I start to read what others have to say about my book, I’m thinking more and more about voice. My work, like all writers’ work, has a voice. It bubbled up, as my first writing instructor said it eventually would, about five years ago when I wrote the short story that led to BENT ROAD.

Now that I have this voice, I am inclined to wonder where it came from. Thinking about my Grandma’s house and that tarantula, about her garden fertilized by day-old coffee grounds and table scraps and the cool, dark garage made of sod bricks, I think my voice started to bubble up there. It started with a giant bull dog who lived down the street and daily sent me running for cover on Grandma’s concrete front porch. My voice started
with the giant mama catfish Grandpa Doc hauled out of Tuttle Creek. He kept them alive in the backyard by sticking a hose in their mouth and letting the water run through their gills. Then, after a time, he smacked their whiskered heads on the concrete sidewalk. Knocking them out is the only kind thing to do. And then he cut out their hearts and put
them in a jar of saltwater so we could watch them beat on. My voice started with the squirrel stories my father told every Christmas Eve and with the old Grandfather clock that chimed every fifteen minutes, reminding me that I wasn’t asleep yet and would be very tired at school the next day. It started with the sweet potatoes my mother made every
Christmas and Thanksgiving—brown sugar, butter, cream and cinnamon. My voice started to bubble up a long time ago.

I never saw Grandma’s tarantula. That only occurs to me now as I think back on those summers when the girls next door were my best friends. And while the bull dog who lived down the street was definitely real, I think, perhaps, my fair-haired, gardening Grandmother was pulling my leg.

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: For those readers who have Kindles, The Divining Wand will honor the first 10 comments left only on this specific post, Suzanne Anderson and Mrs. Tuesday’s Departures — until Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. — with a download of Suzanne Anderson’s Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure. Please include the email address used to download and the ebook will be gifted to you promptly.

The Revealing of Lori Roy

March 09, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Lori Roy and her debut novel Bent Road, releasing March 31, 2011, have been praised by the best and eagerly awaited by many.

This literary suspense novel is simply described as: One family’s struggle with a past never laid to rest.

Then hailed with the following three starred reviews:

“[Bent Road] will keep readers wondering right until the last page.”Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Roy’s exceptional debut novel is full of tension, complex characters, and deftly gothic overtones….Highly recommended.” Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Outstanding…engrossing….sure to make several 2011 must-read lists.”Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

And for good measure

“Rich and evocative, Lori Roy’s voice is a welcome addition to American fiction.” – Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River and Shutter Island

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Bent Road for Monday, March 21, 2011 but, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Lori Roy was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas where she attended and graduated from Kansas State University. Her work has appeared in the Chattahoochee Review. She currently lives with her family in west central Florida. Bent Road is her first novel.

Now it’s time to get to know Lori, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Rarely predictable, never boring, much laughter, always moving.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: As Coach Eric Taylor says, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: A happy healthy family with a moment to sit still.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Harm coming to my children.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: I’m sitting poolside, drinking Slurpees with my daughter. I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I find this question difficult, so I’ll change it to …With in whom in history do I greatly admire? Harper Lee for the courage to write the story she wanted to write.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My husband.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: “Brush your teeth.” “Clean your room.” “Quit bugging your sister.”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: A better forehand.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Being a mother.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Procrastination

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: My cooking abilities – just kidding.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Wasting time being shy.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: A faster reader.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Red hair

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Atticus Finch

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Cujo

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Rodger Federer – well done.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: I don’t like anyone messing with my baseball hat when I’m wearing one.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Parenting

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: I’m doing it.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, sincerity, perseverance

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Stone crab with garlic butter

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: I don’t know titles but I know them when I hear them.

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee, Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck, The Prince of Tides – Pat Conroy, Their Eyes Were Watching God-Zora Neale Hurston, The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Gifted with amazing talent, Lori Roy is a new author to follow on Twitter and fan on
Facebook. Then you can say you knew her when….

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Catherine McKenzie and Arranged. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.