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Interview with Author Annette Valentine

23 Jan

I recently did a review for Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine. This was my first review request in a while and one of the conditions I had for doing the review was that I could ask Valentine questions when I finished. I adore being able to interact with an author after I read their book and ask some questions to get more from the book. It makes for more of a dialogue.

Major thanks to Annette for answering my questions and sharing her thoughts and motivations!

1. The book summary says that Simon’s story was inspired by your father. Can you share how much of this story came from his experiences? Are there certain things, in particular, you can point to?

My father was the oldest child of a twenty-one year-old rural Kentucky farmer and his fifteen-year-old wife. His mother died at 36 years old, having had 8 children. His mother’s death was a significant  turning point for my father who left home at the age of 18 in 1920 and went to Detroit. So his leaving home at a young age to go to a big city was a catalyst in my writing about him.

He was a policeman in Detroit and involved in escapes with the Mafia. Often times, I heard stories of his adventures. I tried to depict them with the bits and pieces I’d listened to from my youth.

He developed TB and was forced to go to Albuquerque to a sanatorium. He did become an actor and was enrolled in the University of NM in hopes of becoming a doctor. The Great Depression changed his plans.

These facts about him gave me a heart for his sufferings, his ambitions, and his determination. He did have a brother who is very truly characterized as a pitiful soul who lost his way and came to an unfortunate end as a result. His brother’s demise was always something that seemed to haunt my father. His compassion for others, I believe, came out of his grieving for his brother.

My father returned to Elkton after his circuitous 10-year journey and there met my mother. My father is accurately portrayed as a serious, good-looking, good-humored son-of-gun. In real life, he was strong and influential in the lives of many people —both his family and in his community.

2. As a life-long Detroiter, I loved seeing my city in this book. What about 1920s Detroit spoke most to you?

Detroit spoke to me as a beckoning city at the height of opportunity and the 1920s era enticement. My father was a dreamer and a visionary. Detroit seemed to present the perfect adventure to fit his young-man ambitions.

3. What happens to Celest and the baby is absolutely heartbreaking. How long did you have their fate in mind? Why did you pick this incident to draw your title from?

Ah! Celeste was there in the back of my mind all along as the innocent and feisty “untouchable” girl that Simon was afraid to love. She was doomed to be the very hope beyond hope—after all the tribulations that Simon encountered—as the bright spot that would allow him to dare to love again (after God had supposedly let his first love—his mother— be so ruthless taken.)

It was in her death that Simon had to come to terms with the fact that he was not in control of anything. With that realization, he turned toward home, and in turning he was set on an Eastbound course back to his roots and his faith.

4. There were a lot of loose ends when the book ended. Which ones can we most look forward to in the sequel?

His relationship with Gracie Maxwell and the strong patriarchal influence that passes down from one generation to the next forms its goodness or its destruction.

5. What advice would you give to others who are trying to write?

Write from your heart. Temporarily, at least, forget the rules and put down on the page (for no less than an hour a day, every day) the thoughts that bring you to life.


Thanks again, Annette! I appreciate your expanded insight.

Until next time, write on.

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