I saw it pitched during the first Twitter pitch party I participated in and have wanted to read it since! In April, I will have that chance and so will you!
In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.
No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.
An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.
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I've gotten to know the author, Em Shotwell, over the past several months, but with the release of her first novel, I thought we could get to know her a little better...
Where did you get the idea for Blackbird Summer?
Oh Gosh! Who even knows! I do know that it rolled around my head for years before I actually thought that I could possibly write it down. Over time, the plot changed, the focus and feel changed. Even the genre changed. But Tallulah and her crazy family stayed the same.
Is there anything you want people to know about the characters? Quirks or unique things that didn't make it into the book?
Jenny Somersby Caibre, Tallulah and Delia’s mom, is a firecracker! Before she was the woman who donned ugly sweaters and ruled her homeschool group with an iron fist, she was a teen, then young adult, who got into more mischief than either of her girls would ever believe.
It is mentioned in passing that Jenny was actually allowed to go away for college—something that seems impossible to her daughter, Tallulah—let’s just say that she had her share of fun.
I am hoping to do a short story about a few of her adventures.
Do you have a favourite scene in the book?
Ah! My favorite would give away spoilers! So I will share one that I really like. There is a scene where Tallulah and Delia are preparing dinner with their Mama (Jenny), and she tells them how she got revenge on a mean checkout lady from the Piggly Wiggly.
This is a scene where we get to see a little of Jenny’s mischief shine through.
What are some of your favourite books and authors?
There are so many. Too many for me to give a list, really. But the FIRST book I remember ever truly resonating with me (and the first book I read and re-read until the cover was tattered) was when I was a kid. “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeline L’engle.
When I was ten, I wanted to be Meg Murry so so bad! She wasn’t this beautiful character who had a ton of friends (like most of the protagonist from middle grade books of the time). She was plain, and awkward, and fiercely protective of the people she loved.
I should do an adult re-read of the book—but I’m scared my adultiness will spoil the magic I remember so well.
Do you have any unique writing habits?
I am completely ADD (I know a lot of people say that, but I really am). I read about other writers who are able to work in coffee shops, but my attention span would never allow me to do that. I have to be somewhere at least mostly quiet. Usually locked away somewhere at home or at the library. That’s not really weird though.
A weird habit: I write on a laptop, but I have another keyboard that is my favorite, so as weird as it may be—I plug a keyboard into my laptop.
What do you find the most challenging part about writing?
Making myself sit down and start for the day. My to-do list never gets completed faster than when I should be writing. Once I sit, I have a hard time tearing myself away from the story.
What do you love most about writing?
Characters. I love creating strange, kooky, oddballs. Plot comes later for me, but I could fill up a notebook with character outlines who may never even make it into a story.
What do you love most about writing fantasy?
I love writing fantasy because I get to set the rules of my world. As long as my characters don’t break those rules--then anything at all can happen!
My current WIP was SUPPOSED to be straight contemporary, but magic has slowly seeped into the story line!
To keep an eye on Em and her writing, you can check out her blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer (City Owl Press, 2016). She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. Em think the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that small towns often hide the biggest secrets. She is inspired by tall tales and local legends.
When she’s not writing about misfits and oddballs, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, and debating Doctor Who facts with her obsessed ten-year-old.