When Syd Murphy flees a failed marriage to the tiny mountain hamlet of Jericho, Virginia, little does she realize how much her fortunes are going to change when a flat tire brings the enigmatic town doctor, Maddie Stevenson to her rescue. Book 1 of the Jericho Series. Librarian Syd Murphy flees the carnage of a failed marriage by accepting an eighteen-month position in Jericho—a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Her plans to hide out and heal her wounds fall by the wayside as she gets drawn into the daily lives of the quirky locals. Together they learn that life and love can have as many twists and turns as a country road.
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As an author, inspiration can come from all things. It could be the line in a song on the radio, a snippet of conversation on the bus, a dream at night but one of the most important sources of inspiration are other authors. In this segment, I am going to interview fellow authors who have inspired me, those I have learned from and those who have helped me on my writing journey so far. In , she was awarded the Alice B. Lavender Certificate for outstanding debut novel. Her novel Aftermath was a finalist winner for a Rainbow Award.
It moves you. Challenges you. Changes you. Hello Ann, thanks for dropping by. What authors inspired you growing up and was it always your dream to be a writer? Jody, you do me a great service by inviting me to participate in this inky endeavor. Did I always want to be a writer? Like a handful of others, I did myself the simultaneous service and disservice of actually reading all those great books that were assigned throughout my school years.
The combined press of all the erudition, insight, beauty of expression, and just plain chutzpah that filled those volumes was tantamount to the rocks they used to pile atop suspected infidels during ancient witchcraft ordeals. I was crushed beneath the weight of great perfection, and the only thing that withered inside me was any belief I might have had that I could, one day, write a good book, too. I just believe that any daydream I may have had about one day joining the ranks of the great literati was always too tempered by a realistic appreciation for what that actually entailed.
But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away. The list of authors who inspired and humbled me growing up is probably too long to include here—unless you want to serialize my answer? You happen to be a slight Jane Austen fan like me, what impact has her work had on your writing? I love to use epic conventions—I do a lot of cataloguing and exhibit an unnatural fondness for excessive statement.
But Jane Austen? Oh, my. You could allege that nothing really happens in her books, when, in fact, everything happens. The richness and complexity of what appear to be the simplest interactions are carried out with depth and precision. Austen wrote about small things in a very big way. She teaches us volumes about how to observe and understand the ways that everyday people navigate their everyday lives.
I compare Austen novels to those wonderful see-through frog diagrams that used to be the hallmarks of really good encyclopaedias—the ones that had four, five, or six translucent overlays that showed you how the muscles, organs, and various skeletal, digestive, and circulatory systems all worked together. Coolness personified. Well…her books are exactly like that—without the graphic depiction of small intestines, of course. One of my favorite, guilty pastimes is to cruise the vaults at the Republic of Pemberley www.
Here, you may seek advice and counsel—but only if you do so in the guise and style of an Austen character. Fan fiction, the Academy of Bards, when and how did you come to be involved and how important for you was that exposure? It was essential. I even got a job working part time in a gay bookstore, just so I could have greater access to the commercially published works that were available. Meagher—writers who still inspire me and all of us today.
So it was no accident that when I finally did write a novel, the first places I shared it were the Academy and the Athenaeum. I never had any aspirations to publish—all of that came later as a happy side effect of posting the book for free online. I will always be supremely grateful to the readers and followers of those sites—and never lose sight of the debt of gratitude I owe them for granting me such a warm welcome, and providing me with so much kind and useful feedback on my stories.
They are, and will, I think, continue to be my dearest and most ardent fans—and I will always strive to be better as a way to honor their trust in me. Where did you get the inspiration for Jericho , what made you decide on that title? One of the sage bits of wisdom I recall from the great southern writer Doris Betts is that we should always write what we know. So when I decided, finally, to try my hand at writing a book, I sat down and thought about the things I knew.
I knew about where I lived: the south. I knew about being a librarian: it was my first job out of college. I knew about what it was like to live in a community full of odd and quirky characters: I was related to most of them. I also knew a little about what it was like to come out at age thirty.
So I decided to set my book in a small, Virginia town—modelled after the small, Virginia town where my parents lived. Why did I call the book Jericho?
I named the town in the story Jericho to parallel the biblical city by the same name. Jericho is a book about the walls we hide behind, and about how love, in all its forms, can topple them. How has the reaction to the book changed your view on the industry and has life changed for you since its publication? I owe everything to Jericho. But I will say that the overwhelming response the book got—and continues to get—has really been a mixed blessing. As a serious writer, I want to write the best books I can—and that means I want to grow and branch out into other kinds of storytelling, and explore different styles and themes.
And that upsets a lot of readers—who can be pretty energetic about expressing their disappointment. So how do I, as the author, respond to that? Write another Jericho? We have more than one kind of story to tell, and we should encourage each other to work harder to find the best ways to do that. Structurally, Jericho is a mess—even though my sainted editor, C. But I cannot be blind to its flaws. And I think that Jericho, in spite of its sweetly intended, structural weaknesses, taught me how to be a better storyteller…hopefully, one who embeds her work with fewer dangling participles.
Onto Dust, After the success of Jericho , how difficult or easy was it to write another book. What brought Evan Reed into your mind?
Evan Reed is darker, more riddled with angst and self-doubt—and more likely to front-load all of her relationships with the seeds of their own destruction.
Evan Reed is a whole lot more like me. So writing Dust was a reflexive, creative reaction to the two years I spent wandering around the loveable, bucolic world of Jericho. I liked her grudging and clandestine faith in God. Was Dust hard to write on the heels of Jericho?
Oddly enough, it was like a catharsis for me. The book was actually published on December 15, the day my father died. I remember driving home that night from the hospice house where my brother and I had been staying with him—distractedly watching from the sidelines, while sadness and elation slugged it out for control of my tired psyche.
I think you probably can guess which one won out. The end of the story, when Diz sees a Cardinal in the snow, was written as my private farewell to my father. When the going gets tough, I look for something to make me smile—or for some ironic twist on misfortune that gives me hope because I realize that I can still laugh at myself.
And if that fails, I still have twelve-step programs…. Aftermath deals with the town recovering from a natural disaster. Was that always the plan to explore the characters in that setting? How difficult or easy was it to balance the humour of Syd, Maddie and friends with the seriousness of the storm? Aftermath followed Dust, and it seemed natural to me that I would write a book that explored the healing, and lack of healing, that take place after great loss.
Aftermath was also an attempt on my part to address those flaws. It was a laboratory that allowed me to step back into the lives of this small community, and dig around inside the minds and hearts of a broader cast of characters.
I used multiple points of view. I went deeper into the lives of players who had been peripheral in the first novel.
I developed a rhythm and structure for the chapters and more carefully connected them to each other. I tied up some plot threads, and opened up a few new ones. And all along, I did a balancing act between the sacred and profane. Comic relief is the thing that keeps us sane—that allows us to inveigh against darkness and hopelessness and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
How enjoyable was it to write the collections of short stories? Did it take a different approach to the one that you use for full-length novels? Oh, lord. Think about it. You have to get in, make your point, and get out—all with dispatch.
They have different parts that all work in different ways—and most of them spin in opposite directions. I can recognize good ones when I read them, however.
But writing them? Or attempting to write them? Very different. There is an entirely different standard at play.
Maddie and Syd are a joy to read from the first page to the last, which is a good thing because they and their relationship drive Jericho, rather than any plot. The majority of the side characters are also a treat. With Jericho, we see Maddie and Syd meet, develop a deep friendship, fall in love, and establish their relationship. The slow build to the relationship. The first kiss to convince someone else, followed by the first kiss on purpose. High quality banter. Jericho is warm, funny, and well worth the read.
Jericho by Ann McMan: Audio Book Review
As an author, inspiration can come from all things. It could be the line in a song on the radio, a snippet of conversation on the bus, a dream at night but one of the most important sources of inspiration are other authors. In this segment, I am going to interview fellow authors who have inspired me, those I have learned from and those who have helped me on my writing journey so far. In , she was awarded the Alice B.