What was the initial inspiration for the novel?
The initial inspiration for Everything Breaks was a horrific memory from high school~ three boys, on prom night, drank a few beers then missed a switchback curve on a high bluff road. They were driving what has always been pretty much my fantasy car, a 1967 cherry red Mustang convertible. I picture that moment when the car was like a bright flying fish against the twilit sky, then it crashed and burned on the beach below. Most of my books, maybe all of them, have begun with a resonant memory that I wanted to plumb. I just finished reading a novel about a marine biologist, and in the afterward the author confessed that she felt justified in making up some of the weird fish the biologist came upon because "many real fish are stranger than any I could create." That's how I feel about book ideas. Real life events, the ones that linger in memory, seem to me to often be far stranger and more mysterious than anything I could come up with using sheer imagination.
What would I tell readers about the book?
Well, this book is a departure for me, in that it's supernatural and my other books have been realistic, though the last one, a Medieval murder mystery, had supernatural touches. I would rather very young readers didn't touch this book. Fifth graders are too young, in my thinking, because not only is it loaded with some of the grittier ideas from Greek mythology but it also deals with some of the toughest issues of the present. I do think Tucker, the sole survivor of the crash in the first part of the book, goes through something like the Orpheus myth, in that he enters the Underworld to try and bring back his friends, or at least to ask them questions he can't stand not to have answered. But then he must figure out how to reach the light again himself if he wants to survive his own pain, grief, and guilt. I have to say, I lost both of my parents within a few months of each other a couple of years ago, and I was taking my own trip along with Tucker as I wrote, wishing questions I had for both my parents had been answered, trying to figure out what remained of them that I could still absorb into my life and have. I cried a lot while I wrote this book. My editor said she cried when she read it.
How do you feel about the cover?
I like the cover of Everything Breaks a lot, partly because the trees resemble the ones that canopy the gravel road leading to my house, here deep in the Missouri Ozarks. And partly because the dog, though a monster, has a doggish look, especially his raised paw. He could almost be my dog, Imogene. Except that Imogene's a typical creek hound, and the dog on the cover is actually Cerberus the Guardian of the Underworld. I think the cover is spooky, and I like that it expresses the moment when everything could have come out differently for the boys in the car behind those high-beam headlights. When things break, they often break very, very fast. In an instant a fantasy car can become a great flying fish, curved upward for an instant before heading straight down to fiery oblivion. Yeowww. That sounded pretty grim, huh? The book is scary, I think, but not that grim.
I adore your last question, Cari. What is the best part of sharing a new book with the world?
I've been a freelancer for nearly thirty years, and I can never get through my head that someone might actually do me the honor of taking a book of mine into her hands, cracking open the spine, and reading a story that came from my heart and experience, as all my stories seem to do, since I write pretty close to the bone. In this book, a character based on my dad, Tucker's step-grandfather, starts telling him stories, and in some ways those stories keep Tucker sane. I think stories do keep you sane. Your description of yourself on your blog says something like you're just trying to juggle life, books, and blogging. I laughed out loud at that~ so true! All us bookies are friends at heart, I think, valuing the same basic things, learning our lessons more through fiction than through that strange trickster, reality. Sharing a new book is like renewing a bond, keeping close to the good fight that readers and librarians are engaging in daily. Here's to us! all good wishes, and thanks for having me! Vicki
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To learn more about Vicki visit her online at: http://vickigrove.com/