Imagine being called by your loved one for help… to dispose of a dead man’s body.
What would you do?
In Gale Massey’s debut novel, The Girl From Blind River, nineteen year old Jamie Elders must help her Uncle Loyal dispose of a man’s body, and help her Uncle cover it up. Things begin to get more terrifying when her Uncle decides to pin the murder on Jamie’s younger brother, Toby. Trying to to deviate away from her family’s reputation of liars, cheaters, thieves and convicts, Jamie needs to prove her brother innocent with a detective on her trail, and her inner criminal begging to come out..
A coming of age story set in the depths of a small town where illegal corruption and gambling ensue, Jamie Elders has to prove herself and clear her family’s name.
Gale Massey’s stories have appeared in several different outlets including: the Tampa Bay Times, Sabal, Connotation Press, Seven Hills Review, and Walking the Edge. She’s been a Tennessee Williams Scholar at The Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a Standiford Fellow at Writers in Paradise. She is also the author of the booklet Grief-reminders for healing. The Girl From Blind River is her debut novel set to release July 10 2018.
In anticipation of her new novel, Gale kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her writing process and upcoming book:
Who’s your favourite author?
My reading preferences seem to change every few years. When I was in my twenties I couldn’t get enough of Agatha Christie. In my thirties Barbara Kingsolver wowed me. Annie Proulx, Daniel Woodrell, Elizabeth Strout, and Marilynne Robinson fed my soul for several years. It seems these days though, I’m interested in reading debut novels. Along those lines I’m falling for voices like David Joy and Emma Cline.
Favourite book or genre to read?
I prefer grit and realism. Having grown up in a fairly impoverished town I like stories about rising from nothing and those usually involve a fair amount of grit and striving at basic levels of existence. Where All Light Tends to Go and Winter’s Bone are two of my most cherished reading experiences.
You’ve had some works published in newspapers, how was the change from newspaper writing to novel writing?
Writing human interest stories for the newspaper was key in developing writing skills. Getting published allowed me to know a few things. First, that I had something to say that interested other people. Second, what it feels like to have thousands of readers. It can be a scary thing but I got used to it pretty fast.
Where did you draw your inspiration from for your new novel?
Inspiration for The Girl From Blind River came from the difficult choice writers sometime face. I’d given up on a novel I’d been working on for several years. I was empty and feeling very down about it. I had the feeling that I’d run through all my good options and was at a dead end with my writing. This is how my main character Jamie Elders starts out in the book. Then a mentor suggested that I read The Queen’s Gambit. That book opened up so many possibilities for what a character can be put through and still rise. At the same time I was just beginning to learn about poker and Jamie started taking shape. Jamie is an impoverished girl with no options other than mad poker skills. It’s like that with some books. A character with so many possibilities appears in your psyche and you run with it.
Did you always see yourself becoming a fiction writer?
Someone recently asked when I knew I was a writer. My immediate answer was that I never knew that. I saw the power of words as a child, not that I read very much, but stories touched me and everyone around me. It’s why we went to church every Sunday, to hear stories. So I always knew I wanted to become a writer but it was and continues to be something I work very hard toward claiming for myself.
Do you plan on writing another novel any time soon?
Of course. I’m a hundred pages into a story about a young woman on the professional poker circuit. This novel explores the difficulties of being young and female and excellent at a craft but working within a male dominated field. There are obvious parallels to be drawn in our culture right now but being female in a patriarchal world has interested me since I was a child. I’d like to see girls grow up in a more fair minded world.
Any advice for young aspiring writers?
First of all, there are legitimate new writers of every age who need encouragement. My first advice is age old: READ. Read a lot. When you find a book that blows your mind dissect it. Find critiques that explain the book on a structural level and contemplate it. Find characters that you relate to on a soul level and seriously investigate why that character moves you. If you’re lucky enough to come across a teacher that gets you or what you’re trying to achieve, pay close attention. I could not have created this book without the many generous teachers and writers I’ve come to know. And persevere through the thousands of large and small disappointments that you’ll encounter along the way. And always, always celebrate the milestones.
Gale Massey’s debut novel, The Girl From Blind River is due out in July 2018 by Crooked Lane Books. Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group provides literary representation.
Thank you for your time Gale – looking forward to your debut novel!