September 26, 2006

3Q with Karin Gillespie

Karin Gillespie
cracks me up --- this is a chick who gives good interview. And she has new book out called Dollar Daze.
It’s the third in her beloved Bottom Dollar girls series, and it’s a privilege to have her here.


JJ: What's the most interesting/funniest/weirdest thing you have ever done to try to promote your work or get the word out about a specific book?

KG: When my first novel Bet Your Bottom Dollar came out, I heard scads of horror stories about book signings and how often the only people who speak to you are those who are looking for the restroom. Bad book signings are so common there’s even a book about them, aptly titled Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame.

I decided I didn’t want to be mortified all by myself so I came up with the idea of touring with three other authors. I’d heard about the Deadly Divas, a group of mystery writers who toured together. Since my novel was Southern I thought it would make sense to invite three other Southern novels and call ourselves the Dixie Divas. I dubbed myself the Dollar Store Diva (because my series revolves around a former dollar store called the Bottom Dollar Emporium).

The Divas and I dress in boas and tiaras and put on a lively show and reading with jokes and anecdotes. We’ve traveled together for over two years now and have received tons of press. When traveling all four of us pile into one car and one hotel room. I like to call us Thelma and Louise squared. (Sadly we don’t have our very own Brad Pitt but we’ll willing to consider any potential candidates.)

We haven’t been completely spared moments of mortification. Once, on a tour of Florida, the Cocoa Library hosted us. Our audience wasn’t large and most were retirees. The librarian apologized for the small turn out and one of the patrons overheard her.

“You should have been here last week,” the patron said. “There was an author here who had them lined outside the door. They were packed in like sardines.”

“Who was the author?” I asked, imaging Grisham, Pat Conroy or even Paula Deen.

“Well, I don’t recollect the name of the author,” the patron said. “But I do remember the name of his book. It was called Overcoming Incontinence.”

So there you have it. Despite all our glamour and pizzazz, the Divas were upstaged by incontinence. Who knows? Next trip it might be hemorrhoids.

JJ: You recently remarried --- Gratz! Tell us about yer fella?

I was in what I call “the hospice” stage of being single. I was in my mid-40s and after years of being divorced I honestly never thought I’d ever get married again.

There was this fellow named David I’d run into now and again but he could never remember my name and seemed utterly indifferent toward me.

I checked out this fabulous book from the library called The Crimson Petal and the White. I devoured the 800-word novel post haste and when I got to the end, I discovered a receipt with the name of the last person who checked it out. It was Mr. Indifference himself!

I ran into him again and mentioned that we’d checked out the same book. For the first time, ever, he finally took notice of me. We chatted enthusiastically, started dating, and yes, dear reader, I married him.

While our courtship was going on I was writing Dollar Daze: Bottom Dollar Girls in Love. My personal life kept bleeding into the manuscript. Everyone in the book was falling in love. It was like Cupid spiked the water of Cayboo Creek S.C. the setting for Dollar Daze. One of my characters, a proper Southern widow named Gracie Tobias, hooks up with the love-of-her-life via a library book.

JJ: Do you think of yourself as a Southern writer, and what does that MEAN to you?

I’ve lived in Augusta, Georgia for thirty plus years but I wasn’t really getting the true Southern experience. Yes, the dirt is red, the tea is sweet, and the Publix stocks Glory Pole Beans but with so many people coming in from other places, Augusta’s southern flavor is somewhat diluted.

Several years ago I dated a fellow from Swainsboro, Georgia and as soon as we visited his hometown I was slapped silly with the glorious Southerness of it all. People still said things like, “I swanee it’s hot out.” (Swanee mean ‘swear” but properly reared Southerners in small towns do NOT swear.) The cook at the diner got up at the crack of dawn to make slow-cooked grits and golly Moses, you have never tasted such wickedly good grits.

I flat out fell in love (not with the fellow, but with the town) and. I couldn't get a enough of small towns and their full-strength Southernesss. I went to Catfish Stomps, Chitlin Struts and Fire ant Festivals. Anytime I saw a meat-and-three diner on the road I’d pull over, order some country-fried steak and eavesdrop.

I’d copy down the signs I’d see in front of churches (Stop, Drop and Roll Doesn’t Work in Hell) and take note of the businesses I’d see (Tuff Luck Tavern, Bud’s Bait Shoppe and Tanning Salon, Dazzling Dos) I’d listen to the small-town chatter of the local radio station in between country songs like “There’s a Tear in My Beer.”

So the simple answer is, yes I am a Southern writer. The South, in fact, promoted me to write. I wanted to share what I saw. I wanted to preserve in my mind a culture that's disappearing.

Posted by joshilyn at September 26, 2006 3:37 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! I've never laughed so hard at a 3Q ever. Awesome. In my neck of the woods (that would be Central and Southern Virginia), it's not "I swanee" but the more abbreviated "I swan." But the sentiment remains the same........

Posted by: JenA at September 26, 2006 4:25 PM

I think I must have been a belle in another life, because that all sounds so familiar in a deja vu sort of way. Love the interview, love the promotion story, gotta buy the book.

Thanks both of you ladies!

Posted by: ZaZa at September 26, 2006 6:39 PM

Ah, sweet memories of my long gone grandma who was born in a little town in Oklahoma that shut down when her father packed the covered wagon up and moved them to Blanket, Texas. He was the postmaster and none of the remaining two or three residents wanted the job.

The phrase I remember her saying more than anything else was "Well...I'll swan..."

It covered a multitude of sins and situations. :)

Posted by: Julie at September 26, 2006 10:10 PM

Dear Joshilyn and Karin; I absolutely enjoyed reading this interview!! Joshilyn, where do you find such awesome authors, with such delightful humour?!

Karin, loved the signs--hilarious--especially the stop/drop/roll-hell one! lol

Thanks for a great read ladies!


Posted by: North at September 26, 2006 11:16 PM

Great interview!

All my fam's from Georgaw. Most from below the gnat line, and I swanee it's a remarkable culture.

Can't wait to read your stuff, Karin.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at September 27, 2006 12:08 PM

I want to go to Catfish Stomps, Chitlin Struts and Fire Ant Festivals.

And I'm Canadian...

Somehow the Curling Bonspeil, Hockey Tourney and Skidoo races just don't cut it for me.

Posted by: Serenity Now! at September 27, 2006 12:21 PM

@SerenityNow--Hi, I'm in Canada too!! Northern Ontario-resulting in my nicname... r u in Can. or a Can. living in the USA?

Oh, and HaPpY ThAnKsGiViNg, on Oct.9th to all Canadians next month.


Posted by: North at September 27, 2006 6:20 PM

INCREDIBLY funny. . .she's the next author in my sights. I loved the signs that she wrote down. . .tell her there is a tiny little beauty shop in an equally tiny east Texas town named "Curl Up and Dye." I kid you not.

Posted by: Roxanne at September 27, 2006 7:16 PM

Gosh Roxanne, that is quite a name for a salon, it's funny... and I'm sure it brings in customers!!


Posted by: North at September 27, 2006 11:13 PM

In one town near where I live there's a shop called S*****'s Electronics, Sporting Goods, and Tuxedo Rental. (Name hidden to protect the clueless.) Gotta love small southern towns! :-)

Posted by: DebR at September 28, 2006 11:56 AM


I think we sort of share a first name. I came across your site and blog through the good folks at Capitol Book and News in Montgomery, AL.

I grew up in a small town named Luverne, AL. I think Karin is hitting pretty close to the mark in many ways. My wife and I just moved to Montgomery 2 years ago to be with all our family, but lived in Washington, GA prior to that. Just before we moved, the city of Washington started allowing anyone who wanted to shoot squirrels IN THE CITY LIMITS on Saturdays. Just another weird nuance of small-town Southern living.

I love your website. Keep up the good bloggin'!


Posted by: Joshua A. Sipper at September 28, 2006 1:25 PM

My hometown of Bedford, VA used to have a combo ice cream parlor and laundromat. And several restaurants in both Charlottesville and Williamsburg, VA feature breakfast coupled with decidedly non-breakfast foods (for example, The Italian Villa - serving breakfast 24 hours, the Waffle, Steak and Spaghetti House, and S--'s Pancakes and Hot Dogs).

Posted by: JenA at September 28, 2006 3:46 PM