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3Q with Trisha Slay (And a Prize Drawing!)

HEY! Remember 3Q’s? Where a writer would drop by for a visit, answer 3 questions, and if the book sounded like something up your alley, you could leave a comment to be entered in a contest to win a FREE SIGNED COPY?

Well—looks like we are doing that again. Cool, eh?

I first met Trisha Slay 3 or 4 years ago. Maybe more. I am not all that grounded in time and space….but I DO know Where. We were at a writer’s conference in Dahlonega. I’ve been to that conference twice now, and I hung out with her and her then-boyfriend-now-fiance both times. She’s just cool.

I remember her telling me about this book then—it was nowhere near finished, but her eyes lit up when she talked about it, and now, look, here it is a real and actual thing, out in the world…Congrats, Trisha!

Her publisher has set up a blog tour, and we are her first stop. Huzzah!

What’s it about, you ask.

It’s a terrible thing to live under a question mark…. When Erika’s best friend, teen beauty queen Cassandra Abbott, disappears during the early hours of Memorial Day 1977, Erika isn’t exactly surprised. After all, they’ve been plotting and planning Cassie’s escape for months. But then Cassie’s departure unleashes a whirlwind of questions, suspicions and accusations that Erika never expected. She’s lying to the police. She’s being bullied by older students. Worst of all, she’s starting to doubt she ever REALLY knew Cassie Abbott at all.

Under the weight of scrutiny and confusion, Erika struggles just to breathe…until a strange new movie transforms her summer with A New Hope. For Erika, Star Wars changes EVERYTHING. So she volunteers to do chores for a local theater owner to gain unlimited access to a galaxy far, far away from her current reality.

At the Bixby Theater-a beautiful but crumbling movie palace from a more civilized era-Erika discovers new friendships, feels the crush of first love and starts an exciting new romance with Super 8 film making…but she can’t hide in a darkened movie theater forever.

As the summer wears on, tensions escalate over the unsolved mystery surrounding Cassie’s disappearance. Someone seems to think Erika knows too many of Cassie’s secrets. Eventually, Erika must step out of the shadows and, armed only with her Super 8 camera and the lessons she’s learned from Star Wars, fight to save herself and the theater that has become her second home. Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is a quirky, contemporary, coming-of-age novel set during the earliest days of the Star Wars fan phenomenon.

JJ: What do you think of the cover and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when you were writing the book?

TL: Thank the Maker for Mark Babcock and Matt King! They saved this cover from my delusions of grandeur. I absolutely love the cover they created…even though it is not what I suggested at all.

This is a book about 1977 STAR WARS geekery, so I had a magnificent vision of my main character poised like Luke Skywalker in the original movie posters. Instead of a lightsaber, Erika would be holding a Super 8 camera above her head with the power of the Force emanating from the lens. In the starry sky around her would be the shadow of a “Missing” poster for Cassie Abbott (instead of Darth Vader). Oh, in my imagination, it was glorious! In reality, the art I commissioned to realize my vision was cute…but not really marketable as a YA novel cover.

When Mark told me they were going to work with photographic images, I thought he was crazy. But look at what they created! I could not be happier with my cover.

JJ: I know you blog yourself over at SLAY THE WRITER and CREATIVITY DIET.
Why do you blog, and does it feed you or take energy from you?

TS: I used to be four-square against blogging. Now I have two blogs. How did that happen? It’s a funny story, and I swear I am not trying to pander to you in any way. This is just the plain, ugly truth.

Back in 2005, I decided to get really serious about writing for publication, so I enrolled in classes and went to very expensive conferences and took a lot of notes. Between 2005 – 2008, I attended more writing seminars and conferences than I care to admit. All of the speakers preached the same message…over and over and over: “Blogging is a useful tool if you do it perfectly and follow all of the rules, but do not venture into these scary, shark-infested blogging waters unless you are really, truly committed to the blogging gospel. It is better not to blog, than to blog imperfectly.”

So…never interested in the PERFECT way of doing anything, I did not blog. I did not follow blogs. I did not understand the whole concept of blogs. To me, it was a frightening, weird, over-sharing world. Then, in 2010, I attended a writer’s conference where every publishing expert in attendance agreed that blogging was absolutely ESSENTIAL for every author – published or unpublished. Huh? Panic ensued. One brave writerly soul stood up at a Q & A session and asked, “Can you give me an example of a published author’s blog that really works?”

After much hemming and hawing and naming of names, every publishing professional on the stage agreed that Faster Than Kudzu was a terrific example of what works. Well, I already knew that I loved GODS IN ALABAMA and BETWEEN, GEORGIA, so I came here to read and read and read and laugh and learn. Then I took a Blogging 101 class. Finally, In March 2011, I felt brave enough to launch my own blog. To my everlasting surprise, launching a wanna-be writerly blog was not a terrible experience. However, most of the people who truly knew me and had been reading my writing for years, told me that they wanted me to post more about emotional eating, healthy recipes &/or weighty issues…or they wanted me to launch a separate blog.

So I launched my Creativity Diet blog…and promptly failed to live up to my own expectations. I keep stumbling with that experiment, but I keep getting up and trying again. Isn’t that the definition of success?

I blog because I am a weird, geeky, imperfect human and want to connect with other imperfect humans who might feel some empathy with my struggles. Creativity and connection is EVERYTHING to me. Sometimes blogging feeds my creative spirit and sometimes it sucks me dry. Either way, the act of blogging is better than sitting home alone with all of these fantastical dreams of writing buried under a mound of coulda, shoulda, woulda shame.

JJ: Tell us about being a closet Star Wars geek for over 30 years.


TS: This is where I admit that I went to a movie theater and watched the original release of STAR WARS in 1977, but I was NOT truly moved at all. It was fun. It was two hours of pure fantasy. Then I moved on.

Let’s get real. I was six-years-old in 1977. THE RESCUERS, CANDLESHOE, and CHARLIE’S ANGELS made a much bigger impression on me that summer. That said, I owned the original Kenner action figures and the Princess Leia Bubble Bath. I dreamed of owning my own R2-D2 to clean my room. Every empty cardboard wrapping paper roll would forever and always be a lightsaber to me. Perhaps that is the true power of the Force. But I am NOT an original 1977 STAR WARS geek.

Then, in March of 1980, my most perfectly comfortable world crumbled. Grandpa Eldon – my best friend, the light of my life and the man I knew as “Daddy” from my earliest memories – suffered a massive heart attack. He died a week later in the hospital, leaving a terrible, jagged hole in my soul. Three months later, stumbling around in a fog of grief and pretending everything was “fine, fine, just fine,” my grandmother and I went to see THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Now that is the point where everything changed for me. Yoda changed everything. “I love you” and “I know” changed everything. “I am your father” changed EVERYTHING. For a few blissful years, I was comfortable and happy being a complete and total STAR WARS geek to the core.

But…that was the 80’s. Eventually, STAR WARS was a cliche. I got addicted to MTV, fell in love with Duran Duran, sprayed my hair into preposterous shapes and pretended that my heart was not yearning for a galaxy far, far away. Even in the early 90’s, when Timothy Zahn published his incredible Thrawn Trilogy, I read the novels while keeping my fangirl persona a secret. There were a few times when I would let my closest friends get a peek at my inner geek. I’ll never forget the time I simultaneously delighted and horrified my best friends by achieving national ranking in a Star Wars trivia contest (just before the release of the new trilogy).

I still remember the moment when the basic concept for this novel came knocking on my brain. I did not want to write it. I shoved it aside and continued to write silly little short stories about Egyptian Gods toying with modern teens. And yet, despite by best intentions, I found myself pitching this unformed, unwritten concept to an editor at an SCBWI writing conference in Los Angeles. Her reaction was electric. I knew immediately that I had to write this book. And as I was writing, I fell in love with my inner Star Wars fangirl all over again. So now I am out of the closet, proudly flying my geek flag. I dig droids. I really do believe that anger, fear and aggression lead to the Dark Side. But I won’t camp out in front of movie theaters and I will never wear a metal bikini. There are limits to my devotion.

REMEMBER toleave a comment…preferably your best STAR WARS MEMORY, but you can just say BEEP BOP BOOP, R2D2 style, and that will count too! Post it before FRIDAY at Midnight, EST, and you could win a SIGNED COPY.

46 comments to 3Q with Trisha Slay (And a Prize Drawing!)

  • This looks like a GREAT summer read. AND if it’s YA–even better. I teach 8th grade English!

  • Tess

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this. Sounds like a great read and something to pass on to my nieces. (Yes, I am the lame aunt who buys books.)

  • Linda J

    I was never into the star wars thing, but good grief my neighbor was. Even better the neighbor had $$$. So this chubby neighbor boy had EVERY star wars action figure there was. We played and played and played with them in his sand box. So many hours every day all summer long. Till School started, then no more…his mom was a teacher and needless to say she was a dedicated mom too.

  • Oh, this sounds good! I don’t really have any Star Wars memories – I just want to read this book! I’m going to head on over and put it on my To Read shelf on Goodreads. 🙂

  • […] Click here to check out my interview and for a chance to win a free copy of the book! […]

  • I’m excited about the idea of a YA book set in the years that I actually was a YA. I saw the original Star Wars in the theater when I was 12. I developed my abiding and constant love for Harrison Ford. When The Empire Strikes Back came out, my sister, my boyfriend and I sat for hours on the really fugly carpet at the theater waiting in line for tickets. This was the DARK AGES when you couldn’t buy tickets by phone–much less online.

    PS–Tess, it’s the *COOL* aunts who buy books…as long as we buy cool books for the nieces and nephs!

  • Martha

    Ahhh… Star Wars in 1977. I was in high school and everyone was seeing it and talking about it and loving it. So I refused to see it. (yeah, I was that girl)

    When Empire came out I went with my significant other and was like “Whoa”! It was awesome. So I had to see the first one. And then, of course, the third. And then, of course, the prequels.

    I bought all the guys at flea markets and garage sales years later for my son to play with. I think he liked them but I didn’t really care because I did.

  • Nicole

    Great interview and this does sound like the perfect summer read!!!

    Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan but I love the concept of the mystery surrounding the best friend’s disappearance and the surprise of learning secrets of those close to you 🙂

    Anyway, thank you for a great interview with a new author. I’m always on the lookout for these up and coming authors!!

  • Myssie1963

    Ah, I had major crushes on both Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams back then! I’ve always been more of a Star Trek geek, though I loved Star Wars also.
    Great interview. I look forward to reading this book, it sounds wonderful!

  • My favorite thing about Star Wars is Chewbacca. I think he deserves his own movie. Harrison Ford has his good points, too, but Chewie is The Man.

    I love that Trisha had roughly the same reaction to blogging I did initially, and I love even more that FTK was the blog that made her think blogging might be ok. FTK and the world’s best-written knitting blog that you will enjoy even if you don’t knit (google “the panopticon franklin habit”)are still my models for all that is excellent in bloggery.

    I can’t wait to read Trisha’s book.

  • Beth R

    1977 was the summer I became a geek, even if I didn’t know it at the time. I just know I figured out how to see Star Wars 7 times that summer, with parents, friends and their parents, the baby sitter, etc.

  • Andria

    Tess – You are Not “the lame aunt who buys books”, you Are the AWESOME aunt who buys books. Get it right, woman. 😉

    My daughter just turned 16, and I will be thrusting this book upon her. If she’s lucky I will be strong and not read it first.

    Congrats, Trisha!

  • Therese

    The Empire Strikes Back is the first movie I stood in a loooong line for. We showed up about 3 hours before the afternoon showing we had tickets for, and we were among hundreds of folks waiting in a line that snaked around and around the hot asphalt parking lot. The theater had security guards and ushers wandering around, in case the crowd got unruly. A friend and I had brought our younger siblings and the friend was prepared for the wait — he’d brought some pocket games along.

    I remember being irked by the movie’s ending — the bad guys had won! That was a very depressing way to let an epic story end. I was very relieved when Return of the Jedi ended in victory for the good guys! That was much more satisfying.

    Thanks for the discussion of Trisha’s book! I’m interested in seeing how she weaves both parts of the story together — Cassie’s disappearance and Erica’s saving of herself and the theater.

  • I was a reluctant watcher of Star Wars at first. Possibly, this is because I went on a blind date with a really short boy and we (the girls) wanted to see Evita, but the boys bought tickets to the remastered Star Wars movie that was out at the time. I can’t even remember which one. I actually fell asleep during the movie. It was not a happy memory. When Episode 1 hit theaters, I was dating a really great guy and he loved Star Wars, so I watched and loved Star Wars too. I now have two sons who clutter the house with Star Wars Legos.

  • Klint Demetrio

    I remember watching it in the theater in 1977 in Kodiak, Alaska. I was in Kindergarten and probably my best related memory soon after was watching someone draw an X-Wing fighter by just making an X and a line connecting to the X’s center. I thought that was the most coolest thing to see and learn. 🙂

  • I can’t wait to dig into this! No I’m not YA just a Star Wars Geek!

  • I considered naming my Roomba Artoo. Just sayin.

  • Shelley

    One of my few childhood memories is of waiting in line to see Star Wars. It started my love of action movies, and Harrison Ford.

  • Gale Blankenship

    Hooray for YA writers!! Go Trisha!!!! My first memory of Star Wars was at a drive-in movie theater in Miami, Fl, with my husband, John. It scared the crap out of me. Can’t remember exactly why…space aliens attacking earth maybe? I later came to love, love, love Star Wars and still do.

  • Jill

    I went into labor during a reissue of Empire Strikes Back in 1997- and would LOVE to win the book!!

  • I saw Star Wars in the theater with a bunch of the neighborhood kids. When I say a bunch… it was mostly the Kyles. We lived way the hell and gone in the country so there were the 2 girls that I was best friends with (Christy and her cousin Aimee who lived with them) and then my brother and I and then the Kyle kids inbetween. They were Mormon and there were 7 kids. Johnny Kyle was the oldest and I had such a crush! I wangled sitting next to him and he smelled SO good. I was 7, he was 15 and I don’t remember much of that movie – just mooning over Johnny the whole time.

  • We basically breathed Star Wars at my house when I was a kid. I was 1 year old when Episode 4 was released in 1977. I was allowed to see Return of the Jedi in the movie theaters, but hadn’t been old enough for Empire. At the time, you couldn’t rent VHS and then when you could, Mr. Lucas refused to release his precious movies in that particular format. BUT! It aired on TV. My dad went and bought a VHS player/recorder (with a remote at the end of a cord no less) for the express purpose of recording movies airing on TV.

    So we watched those truncated Star Wars flicks, fast forwarding through all the commercials and dealing with the severe weather alert banners, over and over and over. My brothers and I would recite the movies word for word every time we watched it. It became a thing, and when I went off to college and could finally purchase the first trilogy on VHS (before all the shenanigans and digital tinkering occurred), I would put it in like some people put in a favorite CD: for background ambience, and I would recite the words while I was watching or cleaning or what have you.

    My roommate and I would go camping with friends on the weekends and we would come back from those trips completely wrung out. We and our friends, smelling of campfires and other things, would pile on the furniture and the floor and watch Star Wars movies. I would recite them. It drove my roommate nuts.

    I knew my husband was THE ONE, when, after a camping trip right after we met, we were engaged in our traditional Star Wars marathon and he recited the movies right along with me.

  • Mike R

    I have been looking for a good Star Wars-related book that recalls those days of small town life in the 70’s when the movie first hit the theaters… how impressive that was to us kids!!; which is the subject of this Not So Long Ago book, according to the author’s website and Amazon.com It was such an innocent time…

    It sounds like I am the only one here on this blog who doesn’t know Jocelyn Jackson’s works well; will look it over esp. if she is parallel writing.

  • When Star Wars came out, I was 8, and my biggest memory of it is how impressed I was that my dad was willing to wait in a LONG line to see it. Not the most patient waiter, my dad! I’m more a fan of the original trilogy than the more recent ones, but I read a lot of the books, too, Timothy Zahn and all. This one sounds interesting!

  • Jennifer Kepesh

    Great interview! The original Star Wars was also my first-ever date. I was much more impressed with the movie than the guy. The movie: Wow! Right from the titles, something fresh an new. I still love the first Star Wars movie for breaking the mold.

  • Kim

    This book sounds awesome!! I was a huge Star Wars fan … our neighbor got a bootleg copy BEFORE the original came out and we watched it on this huge video player in his kitchen. The whole neighborhood crew was hooked and we spent the better part of a year making our own version in the backyard. The woodpile was our Millennium Falcon.

  • Marinda

    Being a fellow Star Wars geek, I’m very excited for this book and cant wait to read it.

  • This sounds like a fabulous book! Great cover too. My strongest STAR WARS memory? The deep, creepy fear every time I thought of Darth Vader’s breathing…

  • Andrea

    This book sounds like it’s right up my alley. And? I can hold on to it and pass it down to my niece once she’s old enough to read it. I love that she shares me love of Star Wars. She dressed up as Yoda for Halloween. I’m very pleased. I’m rambling…

  • Summer

    I was born in 1977, so I first saw Star Wars on television at home some years later. I think I might have just turned 11 or so. I know it was near my birthday because I was holding my new guinea pig while I watched with my brothers. It was enthralling! Loved Han Solo and Chewie. The book sounds great! I’ve been reading some YA this year, because it occurred to me I’m missing out on some good new stuff.

  • Sounds like a winner! A mystery, some Star Wars, and teen drama? Awesome.

    My favorite Star Wars memory is from when the very first movie came out. My dad really wanted to see it, so my sainted mother loaded up the car with dinner and snacks and blankets and we all went to the drive-in. I was 8, my brother was 3. We were all asleep – except Mom – before the movie was half over.

    My brother did turn into a Star Wars fan, and Mom tells the story of driving all over creation to find a Christmas Millennium Falcon, which he just passed down to his own 6yo son.

    Can’t wait to read this and pass it along to my kids and brother.

  • Star Wars memory…hmmm… Saw in the theater when I was three. I wanted some action figures to play with but 1) I was a little girl without and allowance and 2) those babies were expensive. Luckily, a neighborhood boy had pity on me and donated two of his fifty-zillion action figures to my cause. I still remember making my Fisher Price doctor’s kit into a bare-bones Millennium Falcon for my Luke and Leia.

  • […] a comment over at Faster Than Kudzu before FRIDAY at Midnight, EST, and you could win a SIGNED COPY of my […]

  • Alison

    I was 4 when Star Wars came out, but I remember us constantly playing Star Wars growing up. Some of our favorite toys were the light sabers, but I think part of that was we got to hit each other with something without really getting in trouble!

  • Brigitte

    I was 13 when we saw it at the drive-in (remember drive-ins?). The family sedan was a tad crowded with four kids, so one sister climbed on the roof with a blanket. She fell asleep up there, and when the movie was over, my parents were almost out of the parking lot before it sank in that we were yelling that she was still up there!

  • Desi

    I thought it was REAL, until I was 20!

  • Susan

    I was 6 as well, for some reason I do not remember seeing that movie in the theater, but I must have because I was not lost at all when the second one came out. I was just getting ready to take a sip of my drink when the sucker monster landed on the windshield of the MF and I screamed with Leia and my arm twitched, only the lid on the cup saved the poor guy behind me from wearing my soda. I am a long standing geek girl that is getting geekier the older I get. The premise of the book sounds delightful and I would Love to be able to share it with my geek friends and my 2 geek loving daughters! Love the YA, it keeps me young!

  • Emily

    BEEP ba do BOOP boo BOOP ::whistle::


  • Rasheed

    Big congrats on the new book!

  • Rikki

    This looks fabulous!

  • My fiance proposed on May the Fourth. Because May the Fourth be with you, really.

  • I’m SUPER excited about this book! I’ll be buying it for the young’s, AND featuring it in the magazine (www.stsimonsislandonline.com) as I love to feature southern authors, a YM book will be a great fit for the summertime! Thanks Joshilyn and Thanks Trisha!


    I was only medium-into Star Wars until I met my husband, who is VERY into Star Wars. Now I’m more medium-plus. But my kids–oh, the kids. HUGE Star Wars fans. Probably my favorite Star Wars memory now is the first time we showed our oldest two A New Hope. They had waited and waited for it, they were crazy excited, we bought candy and popped corn–and they loved it, but were also a bit CONCERNED about trash compactors for a long while afterward. As we all should be, I suppose. 😉

  • Danica

    Looks like a fantastic book and I can’t wait to read it!

    I wasn’t a huge Star Wars fan until after my brother, a HUGE Star Wars fan, passed away several years ago. Watching it in recent years has helped me understand what he saw in the film and liked about it so much and has not only brought about greater appreciation for the movie, but who he was as a person.

    Great movie and great memories for me : )

    Can’t wait to read this book this summer!

  • Idella

    In 2006, a bunch of friends got together for a long weekend…and I do mean long: 6 Star Wars films, 12 or more hours of actual movie-viewing, tons of food, drinks and tiny naps in between (and some during)….Let’s just say, the Force was with us and I haven’t been the same since.

  • Berni G.

    I remember going to the theater as a child with my whole family to see Star Wars. It was a big old fashioned theater with a balcony. We were so excited! Of course we snuck in our own snacks.
    five kids were too many to pay concession stand prices for. We were amazed at the special effects, the robots, everything… It was a magical evening.