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3Q with Me, and the FIRST CONTEST with Sliding-Scale Prizes

LAUNCH DAY!!!!!!!!!!! And a contest to win the spankin’ fresh new Paperback Edition of BACKSEAT SAINTS.

Library Journal Says: On the surface, she’s Ro Grandee, dutiful wife of a handsome Texan with ready fists. But underneath her flowery skirts and painful bruises lurks Rose Mae, a fierce Southern spitfire who’s already escaped an abusive father. These days Rose seems resigned to taking punches, working in the Grandee family gun shop, and waltzing with the vacuum cleaner until an oddly familiar airport gypsy foretells a fortune that is murder—literally.

Rose’s husband is going to kill her, unless she manages to kill him first. Rose takes her dog, Gretel, and her Pawpy’s old gun and runs for her life, blazing a harrowing trail from Texas to Alabama and on to California and exhuming a heap of family skeletons along the way. VERDICT: Jackson has resurrected a character from her best-selling gods in Alabama and crafted a riveting read that simply flies off the page with prose as luscious as sweet tea and spicy as Texas chili. Fans of Southern fare as varied as Sue Monk Kidd, Dorothy Allison, and Michael Lee West are sure to love it.

If you already own Saints in hardback or you already pre-ordered the paperback or you are ABOUT to go out to your favorite local bookstore and BUY the paperback this VERY day or are just about to order it because you are JUST. THAT. DAMN. SEXY, then please, go ahead, but also know you should STILL enter because I can always sign it, “Your Name told me you deserve a week on the beach with a cold drink and a hot read!” or somesuch, and you can use it as your TEACHER gift! Or a birthday gift or a JUST BECAUSE gift or etc.

(Aside: Mother’s Day is Sunday. Your mother likes to read. She TOLD me she hoped you would get her this book when we had lunch last week…)

We are going to mix up the contest a little bit this time:

The number of prizes will be based on the number of entries. For every 20 entries, I will add another copy of BACKSEAT SAINTS to the prize list. (And now I will do the math for the English Majors among us—I may have had help with this. Ahem.) If we get 100 entries, then I will give away 5 copies. An unprecedented 200 entries? 10 copies. All signed however you like. (For the record? Most entries we ever had was 132, for Sara Gruen. Second place, Bridget Asher, 128 entries. Not that I am counting.)

BUT WAIT! THERE IS MORE! The first three numbers drawn will get an additional signed first edition of a book from my own collection. Could be anything, really. I have TONS of signed books!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! (Do you feel like now I am going to say you also get a FLOW-BEE or a case of spray-can hair? I am not. Sorry.) If we get over 100, the next TWO randomly drawn numbers will ALSO get a Between GIFT set, including a hardback first edition signed copy of BETWEEN, GEORGIA AND one of Nonny’s Little Fox Dolls! (If you don’t know about the Fox figurines, they are explained later, in the interview portion! You can see a picture lower down, too.

As usual, 4 ways to enter, and you may enter up to 4 times, and the contest closes MONDAY the 9th at midnight EST.

Way One: Leave a comment here!
Way Two: Post a link to this contest on your facebook page. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here saying you have done so.
Way Three: TWEET a link to this contest. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here saying you have done so.
Way Four: Post a link to this contest on your blog. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here linking back saying you have done so.

And now, the Three Q:

Are your characters strictly drawn from your imagination or are they based on people that you know?

2 out of 2 blurry dogs making out on the sofa strongly recommend this book!

Oh, they are all made up – but bits and flashes of many of my friends and relatives sneak in there. No character is a definite version of, say, my Aunt Susan but I can think of four characters that have one or two of Susan’s quirks, and probably a few other characters owe a little something to Susan and I don’t even realize it.

That’s always the way; I see little bits of folks I know in characters who are just themselves. The exception to this rule is CHILDREN. I can’t make up KIDS… they are too weird. I also can’t use my own kids because I am too close to them to see them objectively (either that or they actually ARE the cutest best smartest kids in the universe…) and maybe dogs?

Dogs are ALSO too weird to make up!

I see so much of my dim-bulbed goodly Bagel in Fat Gretel. And I stole Gret’s looks from one of my friend Sara’s dogs. I steal a lot from Sara’s animals…I was searching for a name for Rose’s sweet but tarter-than-she-seems neighbor while at Sara’s house, and I looked out the window and saw her horse Fancy frisking around. I named the neighbor Mrs. Fancy, thinking she would be a minor character, a prop to take the airport, but she grew into the name and got deeply embedded in the book and Rose’s life.

You were raised Southern and your books reflect your intimate knowledge of the peculiarities of Deep South living, but BACKSEAT SAINTS takes an Alabama girl and her dog and sends them both to California. Will the South continue to be the backdrop for future books?

Franz Schubert says, "If you only have one eye, use it to read this book!"

Oh I am not done with the south yet. I write what I know and sense of place is important to me, and being Southern defines me in a lot of ways. I am truly happy nowhere else, and yet I am angry with it, so I don’t imagine I am finished writing about it. My next book, A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY, is set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, and right now I am writing one that’s set in Lumpkin County, Georgia and Atlanta.

I don’t feel limited by it, though. I think my seven years of living as an ex-pat in Illionois gave me the distance to write about the South with an insider’s love and an outsider’s objectivity. It also broadened my sense of the country, but I will admit California was outside my comfort zone!

Luckily it was outside Rose’s comfort zone, too, which gave me the luxury of writing about California from an outsider’s perspective. “The weird go west,” Rose Mae tells her dog, and adds, “Anyone too strange for Berkeley must walk straight into the sea like a lemming to drown.”

I went out to Berkeley and moved in with my long-suffering and generous friend Jill for weeks to learn what Berkeley smells like. Culture shock, but the fun kind. I loved it there—Loved all the little cities around San Francisco, and adored San Francisco itself. I love the hills and the way the houses are stacked into them. The air has a salt-freshness to it that makes one feel all intrepid. It certainly makes ROSE become more intrepid!

Can you explain your “Fic Facts,” and can we expect any to result from Backseat Saints?

When I was little, whenever we played the THREE WISHES game, I would say I only needed ONE. I always wished for the ability to reach into books and pull things out into the real world. And sure, practical things like MONEY or a NEW BIKE were available in books, but that was rarely where my mind went.

My wish meant that I could pull out Nixies, if Nixies were needed. (There was a blackhearted devil of a girl named Lisa who tortured me in fourth grade, and in my opinion, she seriously deserved to have some Nixies set on her.) I could pull out dresses made of spiders silk, and aliens, and talking cats, and friends like Trixie Belden, who was always stumbling across mysteries and whose life was so much more interesting than mine. I especially wanted to pull out this loyal and big hearted horse named Galileo from my favorite pony book. (I pronounced the name GAH-lilly-oh, having not yet heard of the astronomer.)

Fic-Facts is my family’s pet name for an odd version of this wish that I have found myself doing in recent years. It is short for objects that I make up in my books that we then commission artists to actually create. Fic-Facts is short for “Fictional Factuals,” and you say it fast so that it rhymes with “tic-tacs.” My brother, who makes his living as a sculptor, sculpted one of the animal dolls that is important in Between, Georgia and I had 150 of them cast in Pewter. The pictured green is the original—the actual casts are silver.

And the main character in The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is an Art quilter. I commissioned brilliant fabric artist Pamela Allen to make one of the quilts in that book. You can see it here.

I did not have a Fic-Fact made for gods in Alabama. I just bought a bottle of Jack. And drank it. I doubt I will have one for Backseat Saints… Although, I do have Rose’s gun. It’s a .32, not a .45, but the pin is broken and it belonged to my grandfather, just like Pawpy’s in the book. It fires, too, once you slot it together, as a host of bullet-addled, thoroughly dead, plastic Pepsi 2 litre bottles could testify.

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