Friday, April 19, 2013

Five on Friday - Sara J. Henry

Happy Friday! We made it again. I hope you all have something fun planned and some great books to read this weekend.

A few items before we introduce today's guest.

I got some information about a live chat that BookTrib will be doing with Wiley Cash on April 24th at 7:30 Eastern. I'm going to watch this and thought it might be of interest to some of you as well. You can find more info on it here.

This isn't your traditional crime novel; I don't know that you could call it a crime novel at all, but you might be interested in entering to win a copy of The Kings and Queens of Roam.

Especially for the ebook readers, HarperCollins has launched an enhanced ebook site. That essentially means you get extra content with the book like videos, music, photos and bonus content. You still buy the ebooks from your retailer of choice...they don't appear to be more expensive, but I'm not especially versed in ebook prices, so feel free to correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.

And specifically for the Kindle crowd, if you have not read Craig McDonald's Toro's and Torsos, you are in luck! It is going to be a free download on Saturday! I highly recommend grabbing it if you have a Kindle. 

And the usual giveaway round-up (I'll be quick since I seem to have a lot to say today. yee gads):

Now, on to the good stuff! Last year on my list of favorite debuts was Sara J. Henry's Learning to Swim. I wasn't the only one who enjoyed this one as it won the 2012 Anthony and Agatha Awards for Best First Novel as well as 2012 Mary Higgins Clark Award from the MWA. If that wasn't enough, it received nominations for the Barry and the Macavity! Still not impressed? Reed Farrel Coleman told me he uses the opening of Learning to Swim in his writing classes.

This year, Sara's following up that success with her sophomore novel A Cold and Lonely Place. I have my copy to read, but I also have an extra copy, so after Sara's Five on Friday, I'll have a chance for YOU to win my extra copy.

Besides being a very talented writer, Sara also has my respect for her love of dogs. You can read more about that at her website. You can also hang out with Sara on Twitter or Facebook. But for today, you can hang out with her here! And I have to say, this woman has been working hard on a book tour all over tarnation, so I'm thrilled she had time to fit us in.

My friends...Sara J. Henry!

Sara at 16 on the bike!

The best gift I ever received was the tool box, fully stocked, my dad gave me for my 13th birthday. This, in the south, in a era where just about everyone’s mom stayed home and, by gum, had dinner on the table at five. Mind you, he gave me a sewing box as well and taught me how to knit, but what resonates in my memory is him showing me how to snap a chalk line and lay shingles and handle a hammer.

Or, wait, no – it was the basketball pole and hoop he installed for me when I was 10. I was a klutz, the kid picked last for teams, the one who spent recess with her nose in a book. But in our weekly PE class we had to line up to shoot a basketball at a hoop, and of course mine never went in. But then one day it did. And the next thing you knew there was a basketball pole installed in our backyard, an old telephone pole set in concrete, with a shiny new backboard and hoop. And then every day after school I’d play out there by myself, shooting the basket, over and over, and marveling that I had magically become a person who could make the ball go in the hoop.

The most daring thing I ever tried (to date) was … oh, wait, I didn’t see the parentheses. Never mind.

If I could tell my 16-year-old self one piece of advice, knowing what I know now, it would be: Don’t ever stop riding your bicycle. Don’t ever stop running. Work hard at quietening that voice that says You can’t do that and the one that says You should try to be more like other people. Don’t fight the urge to write and think as you want. Keep on doing things like the night you decide, a few years from now, that if you can make yourself tread water you can learn to swim, then shove yourself into the middle of that empty Louisville motel pool late at night where, yes, you learn to tread water. And please don’t think you can wait until your mid-thirties to have the babies you dream of, because, for you, that will be too late. Instead you will adopt dogs and take in a stream of summer exchange students and work incessantly, but none of it will ease the ache in your heart for what you can never have.

(Yes, that was more than one piece of advice.)

One thing I have no tolerance for: badly painted walls. Seriously. I notice the paint drips, the smudges, the wavering lines. I see the unsanded bumps and the crevices crying out for spackling. Hey, if it’s worth painting, it’s worth doing right.

A close second is misspelling authors’ names. Because, you know, the name is right there, on the book.

A skill I’ve always wanted to have, but don’t: I so admire people who can look at a room and see, just see, that it needs the furniture moved and needs a picture on that wall and maybe a vase right there … and people who know how to accessorize, to wear the right scarf and jewelry and layers and whatever. Not that I really want to do those things. Sometimes I want someone else to do them, but not often.

What I would love to be able to do is rock climb. I would love to have the strength and fitness to make the requisite moves, to be in that kind of shape, and to have the courage to … just … do … it.

Once I went on a week-long cruise, which I ended up loving. Limitless, all-inclusive meals and snacks, what’s not to love?! I went to shows; I tried roller blading; I went ice skating. I did everything there was to do on that cruise ship, except the rock wall. I kept staring at it, thinking Tomorrow I will try that, and I never did. I chickened out.

The #1 item on my bucket list right now is: to get fit. I know this sounds boring, but bicycling, running, hiking, tennis clear my mind and make me feel alive in a way nothing else does. And (the truth comes out) I really haven’t done any of them for more than four years.

That was when I broke my fifth right metatarsal, had it surgically repaired, and three weeks later hopped on a plane to a house-swap in Australia, where I rewrote my decade-old manuscript, then found an agent, got a two-book deal, and entered a new career for which I was completely unprepared, right about when a forever-type of relationship fell apart. I’m abashed to say I never found time to get fit. Yes, I played basketball at Bouchercon-Cleveland, but that was sheer willpower and long-cobwebbed muscle memory. People who know how I love to bike and run and how driven I am (at my municipal tennis lessons they called me “Boris”) assume I’m still doing all these sports. But I’m not. Running up a flight of stairs or cycling the two miles to the post office leaves me winded. I’ve become the American cliché, a couch potato. An incognito one.

This is the year all that ends. It’s time to start moving again.

Geez, I need Sara to live by me so we could start moving together. I didn't get my stocked tool box until I was 30 and I assure you, my dad did NOT teach me to crochet. That is a very cool dad. I have to say this was an incredible peek into Sara as a person and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. Now here's your chance to win a copy of A Cold and Lonely Place. Just fill out the form below to be entered. Winners need to be US residents and entries need to be in by midnight, April 26th (next Friday). As always, email me if you have any questions.

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