it’s Release Day for A Shine That Defies The Dark by Jodi Gallegos, an Adult, Historical, Romance, and I got the chance to chatter with her about this and that… okay, about books.
Here’s our talk.
Hi Jodi. I’ll start with a common question for authors: “Where did the idea come from?”
I’ve asked it myself. Did this fully formed plot line emerged miraculously from someone’s imagination (if only it were that easy!).
The truth is novels are the result of several little inspirations. Separately they seem unique and fully formed. But when inspiration strikes, those random ideas come together with unexpected and wonderous results.
The following are the little bits of inspiration that came together as my debut novel, A Shine That Defies the Dark:
- A 2009 trip to the Big Easy. My husband and I took a three-day trip to New Orleans. Despite the humidity (it was late June and the humidity was brutal) I fell in love with the city. I adored everything about the French Quarter: the architecture, streets, vibe, food, everything! Since then I’ve been obsessed with southern Louisiana.
- Preservation Hall. During dinner one night our waitress told us about this little gem of a music venue. The music was fantastic and the location unlike anything I’d experienced. I bought a CD on my way out the door. That CD became part of my playlist for A Shine That Defies the Dark.
- A random phrase popped into my head one morning and I loved it. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it. Periodically I mulled over it, wondering how a character would come to making this declaration: “I didn’t go lookin’ for Remy Granger that night. I was tryin’ to avoid the man in my momma’s bedroom the same as she was tryin’ to ignore the fact that I knew he was in there with her.”
- Reality television. I have a reality & documentary tv problem. In 2014-15 I’d been feeding my Louisiana obsession with one reality tv show, while also watching several programs about moonshine and bootlegging. I remember turning to my husband one night and saying, “I’m strangely intrigued by the moonshine business. I think I want to write a book about bootleggers someday.”
- My grandfather & a reality tv personality. One reality show had a man who always reminded me of my grandpa. I don’t know what it was about him, but I imagined—had my grandpa been Cajun—he’d be a lot like this man. When I did start writing the book, my grandfather featured prominently in the development of one character: Vieux Piersall. Some of the mannerisms and facts about Vieux Piersall are true to my grandpa. The manner of speaking though—the voice in my head of Vieux Piersall—that’s completely inspired by the man on tv.
- The decision to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Nothing pressures you to make decisions and turn inspiration into a novel like having to write a novel in 30 days!
For my NaNoWriMo 2015 project everything came together, and I began a book about bootleggers in southern Louisiana. It was the first year I succeeded at NaNoWriMo.
And that’s how I found my “Shine”.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I adore research. I could spend months researching history, maps, food, dialect, local legends, wildlife, local industry and vegetation.
What did you edit out of this book?
The ending, which may be made available at some point as an “extra”.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Lots of research. I like the names to be meaningful, even if it’s just being regionally specific.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?
I haven’t seen any yet, but I’m sure I’ll read them…at least until it hurts. Going in I’m aware that not every book is right for everyone, so I’ll try to stay rational about bad reviews.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I include a subtle homage in each of my books to the author I’ve admired the longest and to an artist who I find to be an amazing lyricist. In A Shine That Defies the Dark there’s also a reference to a funny story that happened to my brother and husband.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
In terms of first drafts my first book took 4 ½ years to complete. My second and third were completed during NaNoWriMo, so 30 days.
What is the first book that made you cry?
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. I bawled for an hour. In public!
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Yes. I have attention issues and need to be in the right mind and environment for reading. If I’m very stressed, busy or distracted it’s hard to become absorbed by a book.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a small band of local authors that I adore. They’re so supportive of each other and the exchange of information and ideas every time we get together is priceless. They’re people that I can also just hang out and visit with about non-writing related topics.
I also have author and editor friends I’ve met online—in all corners of the world—and developed friendships with. The writing community is so supportive of each other. It’s an amazing tribe to be a part of.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Do not listen to the English teacher who said you’d never be able to earn a living in a literature-based career. Ignore him and follow your dreams!
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. It’s the first post-apocalyptic book I ever read and the only book I’ve read numerous times. I’ve never heard anyone else mention it.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’m currently still working as an RN Case Manager for an in-home health agency.
Thank you for letting us in!
Now let’s see what Jody’s story is about.
Gripping, romantic, and evocative of its time— A Shine that Defies the Dark is a spellbinding story of one woman who will stop at nothing to survive during a tumultuous time in American history.
After a six-year exile, Ophelia Breaux and her mother are overjoyed to return to the Louisiana bayou. But it seems the ghosts of the epic feud that drove them away still haunt Plaquemines Parish, and with the Great Depression sweeping the nation, the two soon find they can’t make ends meet.
Seeing no other option, Ophelia’s mother takes the drastic step of sharing her bed with the town judge in exchange for a reduced rent. The judge has had a life-long obsession with Momma, and Ophelia is desperate to end this arrangement and get her away from him.
When Remy Granger shows up, Ophelia knows it could mean more trouble—and that’s the last thing they need. Handsome and dangerous, he’s the first boy she ever kissed, and a member of the most notorious family in southern Louisiana—but he’s also got an opportunity for fast money in rumrunning. Ophelia goes all in, and it turns out she may have a knack for the business. But she’s going to have to run even faster if she wants to save Momma… dodging the cops, rival gangs, and her traitorous heart at every turn.
- Crimson Tree Mystery Prize