After I post answers to the Q & A, I will pass the blog on to Carrie Clickard, Nancy Raines Day, and Catherine L. Osornio who will pick up the tour on July 4.
My current book is G is for Grits: A Southern Alphabet. It released September 2012.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book? As a
lifelong Southerner, I had been thinking about writing something
southern, possibly something along the lines of an article for Southern Living or Southern Lady magazines. While reviewing some ABC books for a writing course I was taking, the idea just hit me: Why isn't there an ABC book about the South?
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Since my book is an ABC concept book, it would be difficult to make a movie about it. However, with all the Southern delights sprinkled throughout the book - such as biscuits, golden fried hushpuppies, upside-down cake, red velvet cake, boiled peanuts, jams, jellies, pecan candies, and grits - I think there would be plenty of Southern recipes for a food show!
For the sake of answering the question - should there ever be a movie rendition of the book, I think Reese Witherspoon (a native Southerner who grew up in Nashville) would be an excellent choice for actress based on her role in Sweet Home Alabama.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? G is for Grits: A Southern Alphabet highlights the unique grace, lifestyle, foods, and overall charm of the South - one letter at a time.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I began writing the book by simply creating a chart. I listed all the letters, A to Z, and then started listing southern items that began with each letter. This took about two weeks. Next, I wrote a rhyme for each letter using as many items from the list that would fit into a 4-line stanza. Creating the rhymes took another two weeks.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Sleeping Bear Press published a set of Discover America State by State Alphabet books about 10 years ago. Titles include M is for Magnolia: A Mississippi Alphabet, P is for Pelican: A Louisiana Alphabet, Y is for Yellow Hammer: An Alabama Alphabet, P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet, etc.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? I have four sons, ranging from 10 years old down to 3 years old - Lee, Chase, Rhett, and Brooks. As I wrote in the dedication inscription inside the book, the boys have allowed me to recapture my childhood memories of growing up in the South. I was the oldest of 4 children and we spent a lot of time outside in the summertime in rural North Florida, especially when my mother worked in our garden.
The event that I drew on to come up with the title, G is for Grits, stemmed from a family vacation to Canada when I was in high school. My sister, 6 1/2 years younger than me, asked for grits and eggs at a restaurant in Canada. They politely told her that they didn't have grits, but they served hash browns if she would like that instead. All true Southerners know that hash browns are NOT equal to a warm bowl of grits smothered with butter and or/cheese!
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? When I first saw the illustrations that went along with the text, I was immediately impressed with how Alison had worked very diverse items listed in the stanza into a scene for each page. Of course, I had ideas and pictures in my mind as I wrote the text. It was interesting to see how she interpreted each stanza similarly or differently than I pictured in my mind. I often think it was easier for me to write the text than to come up with a scene incorporating all the items I had listed (if I could even draw, that is). As you read the stanzas, see how you would have created the scene if you had been responsible for doing so.
As an example, the B page is shown below. The "B" text is:
B is for boiled peanuts,
biscuits, and black-eyed peas,
chasing butterflies in summertime,
and running from bumblebees!
See how Alison incorporated all these items AND added in a stick of Butter for the Biscuits!
Nancy Raines Day
Catherine L. Osornio