Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Karin Gillespie

We're back on the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit today, with a book by our founder, Karin Gillespie. Dollar Daze: The Bottom Dollar Girls in Love is the latest in her series about the ladies who work in the dollar store in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina. This book explores the age-old question of whether it's ever too late to find love. The 60-something widows are sure their dating days are over, until they see an 80-something friend having a rather hot fling. Maybe it's not too late for them, after all, but the eligible men in town are as picked over as a garage sale at noon (boy, do I know that feeling). Then an old high school heartthrob comes to town ...

I asked Karin a few questions:
What was the inspiration behind this book?
I was in what I call "the hospice" stage of being single. I was in my mid-40s and after years of being divorced I honestly never thought I'd ever get married again.

There was this fellow named David I'd run into now and again but he could never remember my name and seemed utterly indifferent toward me. Then I checked out this fabulous book from the library called The Crimson Petal and the White . I devoured the 800-word novel post haste and when I got to the end, I discovered a receipt with the name of the last person who checked it out. It was Mr. Indifference himself! I ran into him again and mentioned that we'd checked out the same book. For the first time, ever, he finally took notice of me. We chatted enthusiastically, started dating, and yes, dear reader, I married him.

While our courtship was going on I was writing Dollar Daze: Bottom Dollar Girls in Love. My personal life kept bleeding into the manuscript. Everyone in the book was falling in love. It was like Cupid spiked the water of Cayboo Creek S.C. the setting for Dollar Daze. One of my characters, a proper Southern widow named Gracie Tobias, hooks up with the love-of-her-life via a library book.

Is there any aspect to this book that you identify with on a personal level?
I most identify with Elizabeth, who is struggling with being a stay-at-home-mom in Dollar Daze. When I stayed home with my son during the summers (I was a school teacher for many) I would get Blues Clues cabin fever and couldn't wait to get back to work. I admire moms who like staying home with the kids but I wasn't one of them.

As you write a series involving the same setting and characters, does it get easier with each book, or more difficult?
Definitely easier because you don't have to re-invent a universe. The tricky part is reintroducing your characters in a fresh way each time out.

As the "hype hag," you've certainly done a lot of promotional work for your books. Based on your experiences, what do you think has been most effective, and what would you not waste time on in the future?
I think an author should spend as much time as possible on finding ways to get print media or radio. I expend a lot of energy thinking of news hooks for my novels. Because Dollar Daze features the older Bottom Dollar girls, I wrote a trend piece called "Chick Lit Goes Gray" featuring my book and pitched it to lots of regional senior magazines and many of them published it.

I'm very particular, however, when it comes to author events. Often people will invite authors to do signings and then do very little to promote the event. That's a waste of everyone's time, particularly mine. There's very little value in doing a signing if there isn't going to be any publicity. If I have the feeling an event won't be promoted or attract media coverage, (as is the case with most book store signings) I'll turn it down.

What do you think is the most fun part about being an author?
Getting fan mail. Being able to set my own hours.

What are you working on now?
I co-wrote a novel with Jill Conner Browne (aka the Sweet Potato Queen) called The Sweet Potato Queen's First Big-Ass Novel: Stuff We Didn't Actually Do But Could Have and May Yet which will come out in January 2007. Then I have another novel that will be out in 2007 called Earthly Pleasures about a greeter in Heaven who crosses the dimension to be with her lover on Earth.

For more info on Karin and her books, visit her web site.

This is one of those weird times when real life and the subject matter for the tour merge nicely. I mentioned the other day about maybe dropping by the neighborhood retirement home for their art exhibit. It turned out that I may have been the only person from the neighborhood who came by (in spite of the publicity), and it was really quite an amazing exhibit. There are some very talented artists living there. It's like we have this lovely little art gallery right in our neighborhood. If you ever want to feel like a celebrity, try dropping in on a public event at a retirement home or nursing home. They'll be very glad to see you. This is one of those "independent living" homes that's essentially an apartment home for older adults, with meal service available in a central dining area and lots of scheduled activities. I could see a place like that being a hotbed of romance for the senior set. Hey, if I don't manage to get married in this phase of my life, I may be considered hot stuff when I need to move into a retirement home. It could still happen for me!

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