Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rain on Your Wedding Day by Curtis Edmonds: Interview



Tell us about your current release.

RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY is the story of a grieving father who starts to reconnect with his family and the outside world. Will Morse, a former NFL player and Coca-Cola executive, was accused of murder after the stabbing death of his youngest daughter. Although he was cleared of any wrongdoing, he is wracked with guilt and grief over her death and retreats to a mountaintop cabin in the Appalachian foothills of North Georgia. But when his daughter Alicia makes a surprise visit to tell him that she’s getting married, Will must confront his past in order to resurrect his relationship with his only surviving child.

 Will casts around his life to find a date for the wedding, and develops a romantic friendship with Dot Crawford, a Georgia State professor who accidentally shows up at his cabin. But Will learns that she has an agenda of her own, and breaks off the relationship. At the wedding, Will has to decide whether he can put the tragedy of his daughter’s death behind him and seek out redemption and forgiveness.

RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY is a dark novel, in the Southern Gothic tradition, about the lingering effects of a family tragedy. But It is a deeply hopeful book, sprinkled with wry humor and enlivened by colorful, unforgettable characters.

Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it?  If so, can you share it?

This is the passage that I probably spent the most time of—it is one of the earliest parts of the tale, and describes Will’s motivations:

I was the only one who was with Trixie when she died. I drove her to the hospital. She whimpered in the backseat the whole way, lost in pain and anguish. Everyone blamed me for her death and they had every right to. No one stood by me then, not Danielle, and not Alicia.

I have lived a long life and have lost most everything I once cherished. I have spent the better part of the last five years alone, in my cabin, a long way from the outside world but far too close to my memories and fears. The loose threads of my relationship with my one surviving daughter were all I had to cling to. If there was any chance at all to bring her back into my life, even for a little while, I wanted to take it, whatever it might cost me.


When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I have a very thin sliver of writing time—about an hour a day, after I help put my twin daughters to bed and before I go to sleep. I use a battered IKEA laptop desk and a generic laptop, and sit down on the couch while my wife watches TV, and I do my best to write what I can.

There is an objection to this approach, which is that it is impossible. You can’t write a novel this way, not if that’s all you ever do. So when I started writing RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY, I decided to leverage my commuting time. I drove down to my job in Trenton every morning and I talked to myself the whole time. That’s when I would be working on plotting and characterization and everything else you mentally have to do to write a novel. When I got home and had time to sit down and write, all I had to do was transcribe all the thoughts I’d had about the novel that morning. That helped me use my writing time more effectively, and helped me sustain the word count I needed to maintain to get the novel completed.

Does travel play in the writing of your books?

Very much so. When my wife and I were dating, I was living in Atlanta, and she was in New Jersey. She would come down to Atlanta from time to time. Atlanta is a great place to live, but it is not that much fun to visit. So I did what a lot of people do, which was to rent a cabin in the mountains. We found a cabin that we loved in the hills north of Blue Ridge, and we’ve been there several times, although not recently. I love Blue Ridge, and I tried really hard to get a sense of the place in RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY. One of the long-range dreams I have for this novel is that people will not only read it, but make the trip to North Georgia and see the town for themselves.

What was your first sale as an author?

It’s funny you should ask that, because it happened just this week. I write a lot of short fiction, but I had never been able to sell it anywhere—mostly I try to get published at places like McSweeney’s online site, which doesn’t pay anything. I’ve never really tried to do short fiction on a for-profit basis. But I did get a story published last summer in Untoward Magazine, which is a literary humor site in Chicago. They didn’t pay me, but they are doing a cross-promotion with another literary humor magazine in Canada. The Canadian magazine not only wanted to print my story, they offered me twenty Canadian dollars, which are almost like real money.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

My family and I were on vacation in Austin, Texas two years ago. We had driven down from Dallas, and my daughters had been stuck in their car seats for hours. We found a small park off North Lamar and decided to let them run around for a while to burn off all the reserve energy.

One of the girls started running, and just took off and ran right past me. She was headed for the street. I could see it all happen in my mind’s eye. She was headed for a gap between two parked cars. There was a car coming. There was no way the car would see her in time. I ran towards her, screaming for her to stop, with my hands waving over my head. I thought that the car might see me and think that I was some crazy person coming to get them. My daughter didn’t stop, she just kept going. I knew wasn’t going to be able to stop her and tackle her in time before she hit the street.

Finally, she stopped when she hit the sidewalk, and I was able to get her headed in a safe direction. I couldn’t get to sleep the next three nights because I couldn’t stop thinking about what could have happened.

RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY is about a father who loses his daughter in maybe the most painful and damaging way possible. I didn’t lose my daughter that day, and I pray to God that I won’t have to undergo anything like that myself. But I got a glimpse of it, and that was enough to scare me badly.

What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read?

A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR, by Mark Helprin. Helprin is the best novelist of the century, and I would stand on Phillip Roth’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that if I was the sort of person to stand on other people’s coffee tables in my cowboy boots. Helprin’s prose is at its best when it is tinged with absurdity—whether that’s the anti-coffee crusade of the nameless protagonist of MEMOIR FROM ANTPROOF CASE or the magic realism of WINTER’S TALE. There is absurdity to spare in A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR, but it isn’t fanciful. Its absurdities are the absurdities of war--specifically the absurdities of combat on the Austrian front in Northern Italy during the First World War. Helprin puts his protagonist in the most absurd and deadly situations, and brings him through with his love of beauty intact. It’s a stunning work, packed with Helprin’s crystalline prose, and flooded with passion and a deep understanding.

For what it’s worth, though, Helprin rated THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK as his choice for the best book of the century, so you have to honor that.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

I have written a series of flash-fiction posts on my website  about a character I call Thor Slaymaster, who is a ruthless, unstoppable killing machine who battles zombies, alien shapeshifters, and armored killer robots in a futuristic society. What I enjoy about writing Thor Slaymaster stories is that Thor Slaymaster is the thinking man’s unstoppable killing machine—he’s fond of using lateral thinking to solve problems that superior firepower can’t take care of by itself. I haven’t yet had the patience to write a longer Thor Slaymaster story, much less a novel or a series of novels, but it’s fun to think about.

RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY is a modern Southern Gothic novel about one family's tragic past and the consequences that it holds for their future.

Five years ago, Will Morse was arrested and charged with the murder of his youngest daughter Trixie. Will maintained his innocence, and claimed that Trixie's death was a suicide. Although Will escaped criminal charges, he lost his job as a Coca-Cola executive in the scandal. His wife, Danielle, left him, convinced that he had some role in Trixie's death. Distraught and racked by grief and guilt, Will retreated to the safety and silence of a remote cabin in the North Georgia wilderness.

Will's only connection to the outside world is a phone call he receives once a year, at Christmas, from his daughter Alicia. But this year, Alicia calls to tell Will that she is paying him a visit. Alicia arrives with her fiancée in tow, and tells Will that she expects him to attend the wedding in the spring.

Will wants to rekindle his relationship with her daughter, especially once he learns that she is pregnant. However, Will fears that attending the wedding will bring up painful memories from his past, and lead to conflict with his ex-wife and her family, who still blame him for Trixie's death.

Will develops a relationship with Dot Crawford, an English professor, who makes a chance visit to his cabin. The relationship flowers into a romantic friendship, and Will begins to open up to Dot about his tragic past. But Will soon learns that Dot is not all that she appears, and breaks off the relationship.

On the eve of Alicia's wedding, Will must confront the guilt and shame that he feels, and seek forgiveness for his actions that put Trixie in danger, and decide whether to reach out to Dot and forgive her for her betrayal.

RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY is a poignant, moving tale about the need for forgiveness, redemption, and Coca-Cola.

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Curtis Edmonds is a writer and attorney living in central New Jersey. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Untoward Magazine, Liberty Island, The Big Jewel, Yankee Pot Roast, and National Review Online. His book reviews appear on the Bookreporter website.
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