26 October, 2011

South of Charm Blog Tour: Interview With Elliot Grace

***REN3 post below, if you've come by for that.***

Today I have the honor of interviewing Elliot Grace, author of South of Charm, here on my blog.

-What inspired you to write South of Charm?
When I was still quite young, a second or third grader if memory serves, my family moved north from Sarasota, to the lesser populated Holmes County countrysides of Ohio, and roughly a mile or two south of a town called Charm.  Many have written over the years of a certain nostalgia associated with growing up in quaint mid-western towns where the grass grows a bit slower, and where the retired salesman on the corner lot, is on a first name basis with the young family of four at the end of the block.  My goal was to capture some of that rural magic from yesteryear, garnish it with a healthy dose of family dysfunction, and sit back, allowing them to figure things out on their own. 

-Are any of the events in your book based on real-life experiences?
For every event that takes place in a story, there's a spark of personal inspiration that has somehow breathed life into the words on that page, regardless of the genre or subject matter.  Danny Kaufman, the main character, is a ten year old boy whose life slowly unravels around him.  As I wrote "Charm," I held his hand and walked him through some of the tough spots in the story, for many of them were snippets of my childhood as well. Memories in need of an outlet.  The experience was refreshing for the both of us ;)

-How did you come up with the title?
"South of Charm" was actually the third title of the book.  After deciding against the previous two, my editor and I kicked around several dozen ideas before this one snuck up on me during a production meeting at work one day.  I excused myself from the room, called David from my office, whispered the words, "How about South of Charm?" into the mouthpiece, heard him squeal in delight, and returned to an otherwise forgettable meeting at the day job.  I'm a fan of titles that may or may not suggest a double meaning.  Charm is an actual place, a tiny inkblot on an atlas.  However, there are many scenes in the story that one would consider far less than charming.  It took longer to decide on the title than to write the story, but once figured out, we were confident that we'd nailed it.    

-Which authors do you think had the greatest influence in your writing, and who are your favorite writers?
As a youngster, the work of Terry Brooks and Robert Cormier kept me up way past my curfew on most nights.  I hold those two responsible for the late hours I keep, drumming the keyboard.  Along with them, John Sandford stands alone atop my favorite list of authors.

-How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first story, "Terror Castle," during Write to Read Week in elementary school.  If memory serves, it was penned in the third grade.  That book earned me a face to face meet and greet with an actual writer who visited the school, and later read my story to the entire student body.  I haven't stopped writing since.

-What do you find is the most important element of a book? Is it the plot, characters, setting, writing style, something else?
My tastes have changed with age.  There was once a time when every book I read simply had to carry me to faraway lands, mystic planets littered with evil druids, and heroes wielding swords of flame, an ancient wizard at their side for good measure.  Nowadays, it's all about the penmanship.  When I open a book for the first time, it's not the story that concerns me, but how the picture has been painted.  I wouldn't hesitate in reading a story deemed "utterly boring" by many, if the writing is a masterpiece. 

-Is there any advice you would give to other writers?
Be willing to accept criticism.  Truly listen to the advice of peers, and those who've read your work.  And lastly, remember that some of the best writers are also admitted bookworms.  There are no high dollar critique groups capable of improving one's work, like that of a good book from an excellent storyteller.

-Do you have any new projects in the works at the moment?
I'm currently several chapters into a YA novel about a group of boys up to no good in, "The Fellas."  To be quite honest though, I've recently whispered an idea past my editor that's been nipping at my train of thought over the summer.  This one's about a girl.  Her name's Derby, and to be frank, she's been keeping me up at night, desperate for attention.  This girl has quite a story to tell...I think perhaps I'll tag along for the ride ;)


An excerpt from South of Charm:

We're huddled in the far corner of my bedroom. Arms wrapped around our knees in the dark. The approaching footsteps grow louder. Ominous thuds. Our mother, but somehow not. She's standing outside my door. We listen to the creak of the hinges. My sister clenches my arm. "She's coming," she whispers. "She's broken."

Links to purchase:
Kindle Edition of South of Charm
Paperback version

And if you'd like to find out more about him, Elliot Grace blogs at So close, but.... He's also hosting a giveaway, the details of which are HERE.

Thank you so much for coming by, Elliot!

-----The Golden Eagle


Charles Gramlich said...

I like that title. What were the earlier ones?

Enjoyable interview

Donna Hole said...

Cool; I like Terry Brooks and staying up late nights drumming the keys too :)

Derby is bound to be as fascinating as Danny.

Good interview guys :)


Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

I, too, felt your title was perfect. Great interview you guys.

Mark Noce said...

Great interview! Sounds likr a really intriguing book!

Stephen Tremp said...

Its great to meet you Elliot. Terry Brooks is great. I need to read more of his stuff. Best wishes to you!

Laila Knight said...

Realm compelling excerpt. I especially like that part about our mother, yet not. And it's great that you're already working on something else. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

Perfect title! And the excerpt is terrific. Definitely added to my TBR stack.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Tery Brooks was my first favorite author!

Emily Rose said...

I like the title too. Wonderful interview! I'm at the library right now...I think I'll look for this one.:)

Madeleine said...

That excerpt sounds gripping. Great interview

Nancy Thompson said...

Thanks for sharing. I love learning about new authors...new to me, that is. Great interview!

David Powers King said...

Awesome interview! Thanks! :)

I'll be by to look at your last REN3 installment later.

Carol Riggs said...

I like that title! Fits nicely with a more rural book, I think. And yay for memories needing outlet; writing is such a good place for that. :)

L'Aussie said...

Hi Golden. Hi Elliot. Great post. I wish you all the best with your fabulour story Elliot. The title is inspired.


Aubrie said...

That's great that you started writing so young and haven't stopped. I love the title and I'm glad you went with the third one.

Great interview!

Elliot Grace said...

Thanks so much everyone for stopping by, and your support!

Charles, for nearly three years the title was, "Broken," then for a short time, "Out of Charm," that eventually led to "South of Charm."

Donna, Derby, that feisty girl is keeping me up at night these days. Can't wait to get her story written ;)

Wendy, Thanks so much for the compliment! Three year's worth of head scratching actually paid off.

Mark, Glad I piqued your interest! Thanks for stopping by.

Stephen, Brooks was a childhood favorite, one of those artists who can be enjoyed by both young and old.

Laila, if I don't keep writing, I get moody, therefore the wife insists that I keep pumping out the stories ;)

Marsha, so glad that I made the cut! Hope you enjoy it ;)

Alex, I lost my share of sleep over several of his titles as a child. He's definitely one of the best.

Emily, thanks so much! I know for a fact that several dozen copies were donated to the local libraries. Hope you find it!

Madeleine, thanks so much for your thoughts!

Nancy, thanks for stopping by! Nice to meet you too ;)

David, I have Eagle to thank, she led...I humbly followed along ;)

Carol, writing is the perfect tool for venting. One is capable of moving mountains...without so much as a peep ;)

L'Aussie, thanks for stopping by and your support! I'll be hopping over your way shortly.

Aubrie, thanks so much! After the wife and kids, penning stories always has, and always will cradle my heart.

Eagle, I do believe our interview was a hit! I owe you one, my dear. Thanks so much ;)


Julie Musil said...

Aw, this sounds like a great story. Thanks so much for the interview. And I LOVE the title (I'm a big fan of cool titles)

ali cross said...

Ooh. GREAT excerpt! Thanks for featuring Elliot today--I hadn't heard of this story before now!

Lynda R Young said...

These are great questions. I chuckled at the story behind the titles. Titles are always so hard to come up with.

Cally Jackson said...

Gripping excerpt. Definitely makes me want to buy the book! Thanks for introducing us to Elliot, Golden Eagle. :-)

Paul Tobin said...

I liked the extract, thought it was really atmospheric. I shall have to read the book.

MISH said...

Great interview and the title caught my eye... sounds like an interesting read.

Susan Kane said...

Sounds like a book I would enjoy!

The Golden Eagle said...

Charles: Glad you enjoyed the interview!

Donna: Same here. :)


Wendy: Thank you!

Mark: I'm glad you liked the interview. :)

Stephen: I need to read more of Terry Brooks' work . . .

Laila: Thanks for coming by. :)

Marsha: I thought so, too, about the title.

Alex: Cool!

Emily: Hope you find it. :)

Madeleine: Thanks!

Nancy: Thank you!

David: You're welcome!

I hope you enjoy reading it. :)

Carol: I agree!

Denise: Hi there! :)

Aubrie: Thanks!

Elliot: Seems like it. :D

You're very welcome!

Julie: You're welcome!

Me, too. :)

Ali: You're welcome! I'm glad you liked the excerpt.

Lynda: Thanks!

True . . . :P

Cally: You're welcome. :)

Paul: I agree. Elliot posts excerpts on his blog too, by the way.

MISH: Thanks!

Susan: Hope you get the chance to read it, then. :)

Sarah Pearson said...

It's funny, I can't imagine the story being called anything else :-)

The Golden Eagle said...

Sarah: Me neither, really. South of Charm just sounds . . . perfect. :)