Sunday, August 3, 2014

Meet and Greet with Sarah S.R Mallery! Plus reviews of Unexpected Gifts and Sewing Can Be Dangerous.

I would like to welcome a wonderful author and friend to my blog today, Sarah S.R Mallery. Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself and your books.



I have worn various hats in my life.  Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, I moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Currently, I am still teaching ESL part time, tutoring English, writing, editing, and cherishing my family and friends to no end.  My sewing machine, however, lies dormant off to one side of my studio.


My short stories have been published in “descant 2008,” “Snowy Egret,” “Transcendent Visions,” “The Storyteller,” and “Down In the Dirt”. Unexpected Gifts, my debut novel, is currently available on Amazon, as is Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, a collection of short stories.  Both books are published by Mockingbird Lane Press.


1)        What genre do you like to write?


I tend to write mostly historical fiction, although I also enjoy writing action, murder, and mystery in a more current time frame.


2)        How long have you been writing?  What prompted you to start writing?


I am a late bloomer.  I didn’t start writing until I was well into mature motherhood and wifedom.  Any earlier than that was seemingly out of the question for me.  Coming from a family of authors, journalists, and a television writer, I had unconsciously thought (if not verbally expressed) that I wouldn’t touch that profession with a ten-foot pole.  But when I finally decided to try my hand at writing a short story (“Sewing Can Be Dangerous”), I instantly discovered a newfound drug of choice.  I couldn’t be stopped.


3)        What inspires you to write?


A whole slew of things.  Just watching a person’s/people’s behavior(s) on the street, at a restaurant, or maybe a party makes me want to delve deeper.  Looking at photos can conjure up plots/motivations/characters. Music is a powerful source of inspiration for me––in fact, while I was writing “Unexpected Gifts” I was constantly listening to music of the various time periods, which spurred me on to so many ideas about how I was going to write scenes, develop characters and their viewpoints.  But above all, what gives me the greatest inspiration is reading about history. I love exploring interesting events that happened in the past and then including them in my stories.


4)        When a story idea pops into your head, how long does it typically take to write it (from start to finish)?


This is a hard one.  An idea percolates, often helped by research and Living With It.  If it’s a short story, the process is obviously much shorter, a novel, far less so.  I’ve written flash fiction in a day or so, but my novel, “Unexpected Gifts,” because it included various time periods, took about three years to complete.


5)        What did you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process?  Easiest?


The most difficult part is running into the brick wall of ‘My brain has shut down’.  I used to get upset by this, but have since learned to accept it as part of the creative process.  I’ve also learned to walk away and do something hopelessly mundane, like washing dishes, dusting or vacuuming to the strains of Pandora; grocery shopping, gardening, or watching something on TV or my Kindle Fire. 


6)        Of all your characters whom do you most relate to?


Well, I did feel a gravitational pull towards one of my “Unexpected Gifts” characters, Daria, the Irish lass who married my 1930’s character Tony.  I have always been drawn to the Irish for some reason (although I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me).  The lilting, rhythmic language, their music, and the poetic take on life all entice me.  Anyway, she touched me more than the other characters and each time I worked on her chapter, whether it be in the writing stage, editing, or just a quick run through, I would read it out loud with an Irish accent, making it that much more authentic and personal.


7)        Is there one of your characters that you did not like when you started writing about them, but found yourself liking by the end of the story?


This is a great question!  I suppose my 1900’s father, Andrei from Bulgaria.  I wanted to present him as a disgruntled, frustrated immigrant who took out all of his anger on his daughter, but as I established what happened to him before coming to the U.S. and then had him try learning English, it made me feel more sympathetic towards him.


8)        What is your least favorite part about writing?  The Most?


The least: Working on my style.  Plots and characters are second nature to me, but how I present it all is something I’m constantly trying to improve. 


The most: Taking the germ of an idea and building it into an entire story or complete novel.  I love living with the characters and always thinking about plots, characters, and motivations, whether it be in the shower, gardening, or driving somewhere (probably not the safest thing to do, btw!).


9)        When you are not writing or editing what do you do for relaxation?


I read books, watch TV (mostly movies or series), hang out with family and friends, both physically or on the phone, garden, or just sit in my backyard and soak up some negative ions...


10)     What genre of books do you like to read?


I am fairly eclectic.  Although I write historical fiction, I also enjoy crime drama, psychological thrillers, a well-written romance, nonfiction history, and recently have discovered that if the writing is good and the characters appealing, paranormal or fantasy books. 



11)     What author(s) do you enjoy reading?  Why?


Again, I’ve been reading various authors, but what basically draws me in, besides good prose, are the characters.  If they are well defined and engaging, I’m in.


12)     Tell us about your books and where can people find them?





Book Trailer:



Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives’ behaviors help mold our own? In "Unexpected Gifts," that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors' hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.



Book Trailer:



The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.




Twitter: SarahMallery1

My Thoughts:
Unexpected GiftsUnexpected Gifts by S.R. Mallery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can an old trunk in the attic help the wayward Sonia find her true path? Will learning about her ancestors’ joy and suffering lead her to understand who she really is? You will just have to read this fantastic book to find out.
I would classify this as a comfort book. This is a book you can keep on your shelf to read over and over just because it makes you feel better. Sonia and her family seem so real you almost forget they are not your own kin. Filled with laughter, history, suffering, love and joy, this book will make you laugh, cry, and want for more. I would recommend it to everyone who likes to read a good romance or historical fiction.

View all my reviews Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small ThreadsSewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads by S.R. Mallery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a collection of short stories with an underlying theme of the sewing art. That said, these stories are rich in history, thoughtfulness, and intrigue.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history, sewing, weaving, and tales about people’s survival. This is all-around a good book. Some of the stories are better than others, but that is why they are a collection. Alone they are just another story, but together they weave a thread of understanding which will cover your thoughts and keep you wanting more.

View all my reviews

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