Friday, August 23, 2013

Susan Crandall Whistles Past A Grave

Whistling Past The Graveyard
With her father working on oil rigs for weeks or months at a time, 9-year-old Starla Claudelle is mostly raised by her grandmother Mamie. The arrangement, however, is less than ideal. As much as Mamie loves her granddaughter, she still harbors a grudge against the girl's mother Lulu.

Lulu left her family for a shot at stardom in Nashville six years prior, leaving Starla to bear the brunt of the grudge. Mamie blames Lulu for everything "wrong" with Starla, from what she considers a trampy first name to a temper prone to boil over.

Mamie is hellbent on fixing every bit of it. And when Starla resists changing her name or minding increasingly strict rules, Mamie ratchets them up all the more. She never wants Starla to turn out like her no good mother.

Whistling Past The Graveyard is a richly drawn Southern yarn about character. 

When the tension between the two eventually comes to a head, Starla decides to run away rather than being sent to reform school. So she leaves everything that she knows behind in favor of a dreamy reunion with her famous mother somewhere in Nashville.

For the first few hours, Starla feels as liberated as the Fourth of July. But in the next few hours, she slowly starts to rethink her choice. With the hot sun beating down on her and not a drop to drink, Starla realizes the folly of an unplanned escape. She's in over her head, with no hope on the road.

Perhaps that's why Starla does the unthinkable when the first truck she has seen in miles stops right beside her. She accepts a drink from a black woman who is driving it. And then, she accepts a short ride down the lonely country road. Except, the ride is neither short nor lonely. Once in the cab, Starla learns that the woman has given refuse to a white baby too.

From the moment Starla climbs into the cab, none of their lives will ever be the same. The three of them will risk life and limb as they traverse the racially divided South in the 1960s. Their only assets? Starla is strong willed and Eula is impossibly pragmatic. And despite being from different worlds, they eventually learn to lean on and trust each other to survive.

"I believe we’ve come a long way in measuring one another based on our individual character and not our race," says author Susan Crandall. "I understand we’re miles away from that pure goal, but trust that our humanity will continue to inch us closer."

A few graphs about accidental author Susan Crandall. 

Susan Crandall
Crandall never fancied becoming an author. She was a dental hygienist who loved books. As an avid reader, she fell in love with words just as much. She used to look up words just to see what they might mean.

Crandall's passion might have ended there, but her life took a dramatic turn when she found out that her sister had taken to writing. Crandall volunteered to edit, and eventually co-authored four books with her. Ten years ago, Crandall published her first solo work and has continued to progress ever since.

The quiet and unassuming girl from small town Indiana has grown into an empathetic and award-winning writer. She is also the mother of two grown children, one of whom is also a writer. The other is pursuing a career in science.

Whistling Past The Graveyard By Susan Crandall Steals 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Although the seeds of the story had been developed nearly a year prior, Crandall had pushed the story aside in the hope of finishing another project. But then something happened. As the story of Starla became clearer and the other story a muddled mess, Crandall abandoned the original novel.

Instead, she decided to stop fighting herself and dedicated all her time to Whistling Past The Graveyard. It immediately felt right. It was the book she knew she was supposed to write. Anyone who reads it will think so too.

Other than giving Starla a wisdom and tenacity beyond her years, Whistling Past the Graveyard is a frightening, forgiving and freeing story of that is one part foolhardy and two parts courage. You can find Whistling Past The Graveyard by Susan Crandall on Amazon. You can download it for iBooks or order the book from Barnes & Noble. The audiobook is narrated by Amy Rubinate, who lends even more credibility to the well-drawn heroine Starla.
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