All posts filed under: Fiction Friday

Mary Beth Keane tackles mental illness, estrangement, family, and more in her searingly good family saga, ASK AGAIN YES, spanning generations

By Leslie Lindsay  What does it mean to forgive? That’s the overarching question of this blistering good family saga encompassing friendship, love, mental illness, violence, estrangement, and more. I love this book, ASK AGAIN, YES (Scribner, May 28 2019) by Mary Beth Keane, a stunningly ambitious novel of epic proportions, spanning the lives of two families over 40 years. Plus, oh, my gosh—that cover—which could be just about Anywhere, USA. Or Anywhere, Period. Mary Beth Keane is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and author of the highly acclaimed novels THE WALKING PEOPLE and FEVER (optioned for screen by Elisabeth Moss)—and also one I happened to love. In ASK AGAIN, YES, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are rookie cops in the NYPD. They live outside the city in cozy suburban area in the 1970s where they’re married and starting young families. But—each home has different stories. There’s the Gleesons—fresh from Ireland and the Stanhopes with a bit of instability, grief, and more, setting fertile ground for an explosive neighborly connection. This is a …

Fiction Friday:

By Leslie Lindsay Okay, so I’ve been a slacker when it comes to “Fiction Friday.” But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. It just means…well, that I’ve been focusing all my efforts on this little nagging thing called a manuscript. It’s pretty much consuming me. I think about at the gym, at Target, while browsing at the bookstore or library. No one else better take my title (it’s not that fabulous, anyway). Oh wait–here’s a great title…what’s this one about?! Oh man…Joyce Carol Oates, yeah…I’ll never be able to write as good as you. Ooh, I like that description: compelling suspense-driven fiction. Look–a squirrel! Yes, being a writer means teasing out all of the wonderfully creative ideas and telling the voices [characters] to stop, slow down, or change tact from time to time. Like me. And maybe you. We all need to slow down and remember why we got ourselves into this ‘mess’ to begin with. Here’s a little something from what I’m currently working on: Jo Ellen January 20th 1989 “Doubt is a …

Fiction Friday: Book Lady

By Leslie Lindsay They say writers should always be writing, coming up with ideas for the next one…and while we don’t jump ship and start right away on the next one (before finishing the current WIP),  it’s okay–encouraged even–to jot down a few lines, ideas, or whatever and keep it on hand. In that case, here’s a little something that “the boys in the basement” are working on while I pound out the first draft of NEXT DOOR. “I will tell you how I read a book: First, I smooth my hands over the cover, seductively feeling for raised lettering, foil-lined font, the stretchy quality of matte finish, or the smooth luster of gloss. It’s always a better experience if the book is hardback with a jacket. Then I pinch the jacket between my thumb and forefinger, gingerly lifting the paper spine so I can glimpse the real cover, the bare bones that piece the individual pages together, often tied with the tiniest red and white flossing ribbon, or perhaps the binding of rubberized glue. …

Fiction Friday: Inspiration is all Around, Excerpt from “Zombie Road.”

By Leslie Lindsay For a writer, anything and everything is inspiration for writing. It’s just something with the way our brains are wired. We’re firecely observant. We scruntinize small things. And when we stare at something innocuous for a little longer than what might be “appropriate,” you can bet we’re thinking of some sinister little story or perhaps how to describe whatever it is in words that eventually make it on a page. Yep. We’re weird. And so it comes as no surprise that I found this little patch of land while walking my lumbering geriatric basset hound the other day. “It’s Mel’s yard!” I wanted to scream. No, not really. Well, kind of. Sure, my stomach did a little dip as I felt the story coming to life. Here’s an excerpt from an early chapter in my WIP, “Zombie Road,” which ironically contains no zombies. Sorry to disappoint. “As I pulled the back door of Marianne Ashton’s home closed, a silent gasp worms through my throat, something grazed upon my back. I turn, but …

Fiction Friday: Excerpt from “Zombie Road,” Chapter 1

By Leslie Lindsay Let’s take it from the top. Here’s an excerpt from chapter one from my WIP. We meet one of several POVs. This is James, an old man in a nursing home. CHAPTER 1 The End 1984 The baby woke James McCullough. He struggled to a sitting position, kicking the pilled institution-issued blanket from his pale, knobby feet and then twisted his frame and sat on the edge of the bed, listening. That goddamned baby wasn’t crying anymore.   He rubbed his eyes and blew out a breath of air. His chest wheezed and rattled. Death’s cough, the nurses around here called it. He wasn’t supposed to have heard them murmuring at the nurse’s station, but his suite was so close, he couldn’t not hear. That was one thing he still had—his sense of hearing, unlike so many of the other old folks around River’s Bluff Retirement Home. In spite of the nightlights plugged into every outlet, he couldn’t see the hand in front of his face, thanks to glaucoma and cataracts; but …

Fiction Friday: Little Sally Water

By Leslie Lindsay I have a senior basset hound named Sally. She has a kidney issue and that means she has some house-training accidents from time to time. Okay, a lot. Was it because little Sally was peeping on the floor that my brain recalled this old nursery rhyme, Little Sally Water or was it the muses at play? In any case, this old childhood game, jingle, rhyme–what have you–has been floating through my head of late. So I got curious, like all good writers do and did a little research. Here’s the rhyme/song:  Little Sally Waters sitting in the sun Trying to find her love The one & only one Rise Sally rise Open up your eyes Look to the east Look to the west Maybe you’ll find the one that you love best The lyrics actually continue and are quite extensive. Seems the rhyme/children’s yard game has something to do with marriage. Little Sally Water is sitting in her saucer. In fact, the real story goes: Sally was on her way to her wedding, when …

Fiction Friday: What’s in a Name

By Leslie Lindsay I read recently a list of things that indicate you’re a writer. It went something like: You know you’re a writer when… Everything you do is considered “research” for your novel (or a future one). You proof-read emails You rush to jot down an idea lest it leave you before you can do anything with it You have a baby name website bookmarked on your computer And so the list went. I found myself nodding and uhuh-ing. But it was the last one–the baby name website–that got me. You see, ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascintation with names. What they mean, their origins, their conotations, etc. And so it’s no surprise this is one of my most favorite parts of creating a novel. Not that I’ve created that many, mind you but well–you get the idea. Names are easy for me; they just appear. I don’t deliberate, I don’t do much of anything but take what I get. And then I look them up. One of my characters, Melanie is sensitive–like psychic sensitive. …

Fiction Friday: Long, Strange Trip

By Leslie Lindsay My father-in-law lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He reads the newspaper religiously. And actually, today–July 4th–just happens to be not just the birth of our nation, but his birthday, too. Happy birthday, Pop! It only seems appropriate I’d share this article he clipped from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and sent my way (dated Saturday, June 21st 2014). The day it arrived in my mailbox, I needed it. You see, I was thinking of shelving the whole “Zombie Road” book and calling it done. It’s not. Far from it. I just wanted to be ‘normal,’ you know enjoy summer, raise my kids, read a book, go on vacation. I didn’t want to slave work on this nebulous thing called a manuscript. But the article–small that is–stirred the muse within. I showed my hubby when he walked in the door at the end of the day, “Hey, Pop sent this. It’s about Zombie Road.” I waved the clipped article in his face. Eye roll. Mine, not his. Jim grinned over the clipping, “Hon, you’ve gotta write this book. I …

Write On, Wednesday: Introducing Lori Rader-Day and THE BLACK HOUR, her debut literary thriller about a college professor and her return to campus after being shot

By Leslie Lindsay I am thrilled to have debut author Lori Rader-Day with us as we delve into academic life on the fictional campus of Rothbert University, a prestigious Chicago institution. Her first book, THE BLACK HOUR will debut July 8th and it’s fantastic poolside reading. With work appearing in a variety of publications, including the anthology Dia de los Muertos, as well as several review journals and mystery magazines, Rader-Day is quickly on her path to a career as a mystery/thriller writer. Welcome, Lori! L.L.: You write with such deft precision about college life. The smells, the colors, and the overall atmosphere of Dr. Amelia Emmet’s old college office building truly come to life in those opening pages as she lumbers up the stairs. Can you describe your research into the university life? Lori Rader-Day: I’m not sure you can call it research—I work for a university. I’ve worked for three universities in my lifetime, and I borrowed things for lovely, fictional Rothbert from all of them. The building Amelia works in is loosely …

Fiction Friday: What does Grief Feel Like?

By Leslie Lindsay Here’s a little something from my WIP. Working on a novel set in the St. Louis suburbs based on a urban legend. This is a tiny little epitaph that our main charcter, Mel shares on grief: “What does grief feel like? This is the question the ladies at grief group want us to focus on this week. Grief feels like a barbed wire fence being shoved down my throat and pulled out many times over and over. Grief feels numb and barren, like nothing but bad thoughts can grow. It hits me when I least expect it, at the grocery store and in line at the bank. And yes, it strikes when I see a baby, bundled in a car seat toted into Starbucks, her tiny face peeking out from a little hole in the blankets, parents overly doting and cooing. Grief is an evil entity that wants me for itself, like a phantom taking me in, inhabiting my body. If I am not lucky, it will. His ugliness will throw his head …