Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review and Author Interview: Sliding Home Feet First

We just finished a book written by a friend we met through blogging.  We met Diann Russell through I Own The World, and she is now a blogger at All the Right Snark.

Russell has published three books this month at Smashwords, where you can download the e-books in whatever e-reader format you wish.  We just finished one of her two fiction books, Sliding Home Feet First.

The author classifies it as a ‘coming of age’ story.  Our better half calls it a “life” book.  The book summary calls it, “a story of an American family.”  We’d say it is 'all of the above.'

Our Review:

Sliding Home Feet First is about family, life’s successes and failures, friendships - both true and otherwise, and character.  You’ll go through a couple chapters of character development.  After that, you’re in for a wild ride as the pages turn on their own.

You’ll experience all that high school drama that, thankfully for us, is long forgotten.  You’ll watch as the main character makes judgement errors that later blow up in his face.  His faith in the goodness of others becomes a stubborn attribute that leads to pain at times, but at other times becomes the core success factor.

You’ll follow Russell’s main character through more drama than, hopefully, you experienced in the latter years of high school and early years of college.  Not only do you experience those first girlfriend relationships, but the college roommates and the Woodstock-type acquaintances.  

Russell’s fiction is believable, from the character reactions to shocks along the way to the angst of being a Cubs fan.  From the quirky personalities of the grandmother and father to those of the siblings.  You’ll believe you are there as you read the conversations and watch the arguments.

This book is a fun-read for someone long past high school, but we’d suggest it’d be a powerful influence for high school juniors and seniors too.  Between the lines there is plenty of relationship and family advice for the reader.  Why not learn from someone else’s experiences?

We struggled with the slow start, but it was well worth it.  We’d like to see this made available at Amazon for easier Kindle setup.  Otherwise, a wonderful book.  You will be shocked it is one of Diann Russell’s first.

Our Interview with author Diann Russell:

1.  Sliding Home Feet First takes place in the Chicago area in the 1960s.  You captured the Irish community, the Cubs-fan angst, and the racial challenges of that time and place.  Did you grow up in Chicago, or was Sliding Home Feet First a research project?

I grew up in Central NY in a German/Scottish Presbyterian family, and I am a Braves fan.  That being said: I did live in Chicago for quite a number of years after college.  I directed "Hair" in 1994 for a company outside of Chicago, and since I was having the play (to use the term loosely) take place in Chicago, I did a lot of research on "Chicago in the sixties. " Plus I had an older friend who was out to dinner for her 21st birthday and got caught inadvertently in the riots during the convention (she got arrested). I was intrigued by the time period (and I love the music!).

2.  You are a political blogger who posts rants from a conservative view almost daily, yet there was little in the way of political commentary in this book.  How do you maintain this separation in your writing?  Are there two sides of Diann Russell, a political activist side and a drama side?  Are there more sides that will someday be represented in print?
It's a left brain/right brain thing, I think. My daily column is a leftie (which is kind of ironic when you stop and think about it).  My novels come from the right side.  I remember once in music theory class saying that music is an enigma because it is both mathematical and creative -- geometric and fluid.  My theory teacher gave me a look of horror.  I think I'm right on that one and I'll go to the mat on it.  My brain works the same way.  Storytelling comes from a different place.

3.  You dropped three books onto the market in as many days.  Obviously you can write multiple themes in parallel.  What should we expect from you in the near future?

I am a very "character-driven" storyteller.  To me, the characters are what motivates -- families, relationships, conflicts.  So don't expect a murder mystery or a espionage thriller.  Ain't gonna happen.  I am working on final rewrites of a novel called "Pieces of Dad."  Like "Sliding Home" and "Under the Cloud," it takes place in the past (1960s through early 90s).

1 comment:

The Doktor said...

Great review! And, it sounds like a great book.

I was born in Chicago and then grew up (10-19) in the western burbs so I have experienced many of the things that Diann writes about, I'll wager. Chicago area was an exciting place to live in the 60s. The music scene ALONE is worth a trilogy!!