Character Interview #The Red Dress

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

My protagonist, Eve Barry Sawyer, is a best-selling author, married with three children, living in Colorado Springs. During one fateful summer, she must come to terms with her past in order to face the future. I sat down with her recently, and we had an interesting chat.

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Me: Eve, I’m so glad you could take time away from your busy schedule to talk to me. Let’s start at the beginning. Where were you born and raised?

Eve: Well, I grew up in Fowler, but since the little town had no hospital, Dad had to drive Mother twenty-five miles to Pueblo. I was slow in coming, but Dad didn’t realize this. He told me later that he was afraid I’d be born in the car. Mother said that he drove so fast that she thought they would be killed before I could be born.

Me: You have no siblings, right?

Eve: No, Mother and Dad tried a few years after I was born. But she miscarried, and the doctor advised them not to try again.

Me: Your father ran a bookstore, and your mother was a librarian. So, did you develop an interest in books at an early age?

Eve: Oh, yes. Even before I learned to read, my parents took turns reading to me. My earliest memory is of Dad reading from A. A. Milne’s collections of Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Mother read me books like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I didn’t find that type of book nearly as exciting as animal stories. Later, much to Mother’s consternation, I read The Wizard of Oz and loved it! And of course, I was a Nancy Drew fan, and Mother didn’t like that, either. In my teen years, I read a lot of books by Judy Blume, and that’s how I became interested in writing young adult novels.

Me: It sounds like you were a regular customer at the bookstore and library.

Eve” Yes I was, especially when I was younger and couldn’t be left at home alone after school and on Saturdays. My parents took turns bringing me to work with them. Dad filled an old bathtub with pillows and put it in one corner of the store for children to lie in and read. That was my favorite spot. Of course, homework was a priority. But when that was done, I could lie in the tub and read all I wanted. The children’s section at the library, where Mother worked, wasn’t nearly as appealing. Finally, Mother let me go to the bookstore all the time when I wasn’t in school or with friends.

Me: Were you still a bookworm when you went to your high-school senior prom?

Eve: Yes. In fact, Trent and I were taking a science fiction class that year.

Me: Trent, the boy with whom you went to the prom, right?

Eve: Yes.

Me: Trent was into music, but he must have also liked science fiction.

Eve: He liked Star Wars and Star Trek, but when it came to reading books like Brave New World and 1984, the symbolism and other concepts our teacher wanted us to understand were over his head. Since the class met right before lunch, we usually walked to the cafeteria and ate together afterward, and I explained those things to him. Adelle often met us there, and we formed a threesome.

Me: So, was Adelle there when Trent asked you to go with him to the prom?

Eve: No. She was home with a bad cold that day. In the cafeteria, Trent and I found an empty table in the corner, and he asked me.

Me: Did you know right away you wanted to go with him, or did you have to think about it?

Eve: I liked Trent, despite his lack of understanding or appreciation of literature, and he was great on the football field and played the guitar and sang pretty well. I didn’t think anyone else would ask me, so I said yes right away. Then a few days later, Kent asked me. I felt sorry for him. He was shy back then. I suggested he ask Adelle, but I don’t think he did.

Me: Apparently not, since Adelle didn’t seem to have a date for the prom.

Eve: No. She came by herself. She said she was fine with it and that she loved watching Trent and me dance to “Lady in Red.” Maybe I should have seen it coming, but Adelle and I had been best friends since first grade. I never dreamed she would do what she did later. That’s why it was such a shock when I found them together in the back seat of Trent’s car.

Me: And you didn’t speak to Adelle again until twenty-five years later after you received that invitation to your high-school class reunion?

Eve: No. She got pregnant that night, and she and Trent eloped to Los Vegas.

Me: What about Charlene, the roommate who bullied you into giving her the dress your mother made for your senior prom. Did you know her before you two were in college together?

Eve: No, she came from Sheridan, Wyoming. She was only there one semester. She got pregnant the night she wore my dress to the homecoming dance.

Me: That’s too bad. So, how did you meet your husband Greg?

Eve: I was teaching a creative writing class at the college in Colorado Springs. He was teaching English at the Colorado State School for the Blind and needed ideas for a similar class.

Me: Was it love at first sight?

Eve: I wouldn’t say that, but when he walked into the classroom, I was so distracted by his tall figure that the only thing I could think to say was, “Are you descended from Tom Sawyer in Mark Twain’s book?” It’s been a joke between us ever since.

Me: So, naturally, you named your only son Tom.

Eve: Well, we called him Thomas at first, but after Greg read him and his sisters the book, he decided he liked the name Tom better.

Me: Tom was really into baseball. Did he or his sisters, like you, ever take an interest in reading?

Eve: Ashely, my middle child did, but for Julie, the oldest, it was about having fun and being with friends until, of course, the summer I went to my twenty-fifth high-school class reunion.

Me: Well, this is quite a story. Thank you again for taking time to share it with me.

Eve: Oh, don’t thank me. Thank the woman in the memoir writing workshop you attended, who had a similar story about a red blouse.

Me: Unfortunately, I can’t. Like your mother, she’s in a nursing home with dementia. She probably doesn’t remember participating in the workshop.

***

Do you have a question for Eve. If so, please leave it in the comment field, and she’ll answer it as soon as she can. We both look forward to hearing from you.

 

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

 

My Other Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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A Tanka About Reading and Stress

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.The following is in response to Colleen Chesebro’s weekly poetry challenge. This week’s words are ‘Hobby” and “play.” The trick here is to write a syllabic poem using only the synonyms of these words. Note that I use “pleasurable pastime” and “have fun” as synonyms. you can click the Play button below the poem to hear me recite it.

Reading a good book,
a pleasurable pastime,
I have fun with words,
words that take me far away
from the stresses of the day.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Friday Fun Poetry Challenge: Pleasant and Read (Synonyms Only)

This feature was created by Colleen Chesebro. This week’s words are “pleasant” and “read.” This time, I couldn’t find synonyms of these words that said what I wanted to say, so since I couldn’t think of another direction to go with this Tanka, I traversed off the beaten path, as it were. Instead of “read,’ I used “absorb,” and instead of “Pleasant,” I used “good.” I wish you all a bundle of pleasant reads.

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I like to absorb

a good book that transports me

To another world

filled with love, passion, joy, loss,

grief, rejuvenation, peace.

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My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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My Other Links

Visit my website.

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Re-blog: Ten Favorite Book Blogger Challenge is Complete

Thanks to Glenda Beall for completing the favorite books blog challenge. You can see what her favorite books are at the link below. Happy reading.

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Writing Life Stories: Ten Favorite Books Blogger Challenge is Complete

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

My Ten Favorite Books Blog Challenge

I was invited to participate in this challenge by blogger Lynda Lambert. Here’s how it works. Think of your ten favorite books and write them down. Then invite three other bloggers to create their own lists of ten favorite book titles and invite three other bloggers and so forth. You can read her guidelines here.

Below is my list of ten books. I must admit this was tricky. At first, I could only think of five books, but then titles kept coming. They’re not in any particular order. I just wrote them down as they popped into my head.

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1. The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
3. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
4. Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk
5. Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
8. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johan David Wyss
9. I Never Promised you a Rose Garden by Hannah Green
10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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The three bloggers I am inviting are Felicia Denise, Glenda Council Beall, Alice Massa. Of course anyone else is welcome to submit favorite book titles. I look forward to reading about them.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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LIBRARY Days

Thanks to blogger Alice Massa for inspiring this. In her post, she shares fond memories of visiting a public library as a child. Reading it brought back reminiscences of my own.

In the fall of 1973 after we moved here to Sheridan, Wyoming, from Tucson, Arizona, my younger brother Andy took an interest in library science. He’d started kindergarten, and I was in the sixth grade. Since Mother had taken us to a public library in Tucson on a regular basis, it was only natural that we would continue to do this once we were settled here.

The Sheridan library was an old building with a children’s section in the basement. Once a week or so, we would descend a creaking stairway to a world of wonder. The aroma in the large room reminded me of the library at the school for the blind in Arizona, where I’d enjoyed browsing shelves of Braille books. I couldn’t do that here, but there were records and cassettes containing stories and sometimes just plain music. Mother encouraged me to check out such books as Understood Betsy and Ann of Green Gables, which she read to me. Eventually, a librarian came to our home once a week and brought books on records that were issued by a library in Utah that specialized in recorded books for those with visual and other impairments that made reading difficult or impossible.

The check-out process at the Sheridan library was what fascinated Andy. He watched, wide-eyed, as the librarian stamped each of our selections with that day’s date. One day after we got home, we discovered that Andy had walked away with the librarian’s stamp.

Nonchalant, Mother told Andy he could keep the stamp for now, but the next day after school, he would have to return it and apologize for taking it. The librarian must have had extra stamps on hand for when we showed up the next day, and Andy handed her the stamp and told her he was sorry for stealing it, she only smiled and said it wasn’t a problem. At Christmas that year, Santa Claus gave Andy his own stamp and ink pad. For the next few months, he enjoyed playing “library” until he took an interest in something else.

A couple of years ago, Andy, now living in Florida, sent me, for my birthday, a t-shirt emblazoned with library stampings. He’d forgotten about his petty theft until I brought it up after receiving the shirt. It was apparently a coincidence that he, knowing I appreciated books as a writer, thought I would like the shirt, and he was right.

Today, the Sheridan library is located in a modern building with books and other items for both children and adults on the ground floor and an art gallery and meeting rooms on the second floor. With an elevator, it’s no longer necessary to ascend or descend any stairs. Instead of a card catalog, there are computers, and records and cassettes have been replaced by CD’s and devices called playaways, which contain one recorded book each. However, I download books from other sources, so I only visit the library to attend monthly Range Writers meetings and other programs. As for Andy, with a P.H.D. in physics, a family, and a full-time teaching job at a private high school in Jupiter, I imagine he has little time to visit a library, but we can still remember.

What do you remember about visiting your public library as a child? What kinds of books did you like to check out? Did you ever bring food or drink into the library, as Alice and her cousin did?

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

***

Once in Love with Amy

As most of you know, I have a visual impairment. On my PC and tablet, I use software that reads everything to me and repeats what I type. With such software, there is a variety of text to speech voices you can either purchase or download for free. Some sound like robots, while others have a lot of human qualities.

I occasionally like to buy new voices. Recently, I sampled one with a British accent. She said, “Hello, I’m Amy. Shall we read something fun together?” I immediately purchased her, and we’ve been having fun reading and writing ever since.

This reminded me of a poem I wrote several years ago and posted here. It appears in How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. Julie was the voice I used when I wrote it. Here’s the poem, and you can click below to hear Amy read it. I think Amy’s a keeper, don’t you?

 

Dear Julie

 

I wonder what you think, as you read me my e-mail,

the Web pages I browse, other documents.

Is there something you’d rather not read to me,

something I don’t want read that interests you?

When you repeat what I type,

how do the words strike you?

When I shut down, are you relieved or disappointed?

When I boot up, do you sigh with resignation

or jump at the chance of helping me again?

Now, I’ll ask you to read this back to me.

Knowing it’s about you, will you blush?

 

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.