Tag Archives: Robb Grindstaff

Author Robb Grindstaff Discusses his Foray into Southern Literature

Bio_Pic-Robb_Grindstaff_300dpi_760x869
 
Robb Grindstaff, author of two of our most acclaimed books, Hannah’s Voice and Carry Me Away, talks about how he came to be the writer he is.

At the heart of it, most of my writing would definitely fall into the traditional category, but perhaps with a touch of the modern thrown in to enhance conflict. I’m a southern writer, even though I now live in Wisconsin. I grew up in small towns in the south, and lived most of my adult life in places like Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. My favorite writers from my youth include Mark Twain and Harper Lee. As an adult, I’ve been most drawn to writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Pat Conroy and Cormac McCarthy, among many others. Add in a few years living in Asia (and reading Haruki Murakami), and perhaps my traditional southern stories have added a bit of modernity and globalization – just like today’s modern south.

My stories tend to be set in the small towns of the rural south, but in the modern world, highlighting the juxtaposition between old and new, the clash of changing culture, and the misunderstandings and tensions between different American subcultures. My characters are modern, 21st century folks who still live in a world with a strong focus on family, faith and community, who have a strong sense of place and roots, display an independence and a bit of pioneer spirit, and a strong ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ libertarian streak.

I’ve never given it a lot of intentional thought, but my characters and stories tend to follow these southern literary themes, although set in today’s more globalized world.

Hannah’s Voice is set in a small, blue-collar North Carolina town. The conflicts in the story pit the genuinely faithful against religious extremists against televangelist charlatans, family against government institutions, small community values against metropolitan and pop culture, the power of the federal government against one teenage girl who just wants to reunite with her mother.

Carry Me Away is set in a variety of locations around the world, but from the perspective of a biracial, bisexual girl growing up in a traditional, conservative military family with a father from the deep south, moving from one military assignment to the next. Carrie travels the world, connecting with her Japanese roots and going to university in Europe. But she always comes home to her Cajun grandmother in rural east Texas, whose deep faith keeps Carrie grounded in the midst of her crisis of mortality.

My short stories often, but not always, carry these same themes in one way or another. Sometimes, such as in “Magnolia Nights,” the setting is in the rural south, but sometimes not. In “Uncle Keith’s Farm,” the character is an international corporate executive who has to travel back to the poor family farm for the funeral of a beloved aunt. “The Missionary’s Position” has a young man spending his life savings to travel back to the Philippines, where he had lived as the child of a military chaplain, and where his heart’s only desire is to save the young girls from their lives of prostitution. In “Evolution of Love,” a young woman and man meet at a speed-dating event. She is a devout Christian who works as a pediatric nurse in a children’s cancer center, and he is an adamant non-believer, a scientist who works tirelessly to find a cure. They, of course, fall in love.

My writing – the prose – is probably even more traditionally grounded than my stories and characters. My influences (and I’m not by any stretch comparing myself to these writers) include Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Twain, John Irving, Cormac McCarthy. These are the writers I try to emulate, not imitate, in the sense that the writing counts as much as the story and the characters. The writing IS the story and the characters. Every sentence, every single word, every punctuation mark is crucial. It is through the writing that the imagery, the voice and tone, the emotions, thoughts and internal conflicts of the characters are transmitted from the writer’s imagination to the reader’s mind.

While the settings and characters may be southern, I hope the characters and the stories transcend regions. People are people, and while we may talk differently, we’re not that different on the inside.

I hope y’all enjoyed reading, bless your hearts.

Great Literary Fiction from Evolved Publishing

Strong writing is one of our greatest assets.

We at EP believe in the power of words, and that great writing, whatever the genre, is always a good thing. Indeed, we often lean toward the “literary,” as a matter of style, and many of our books can be classified as literary fiction, even if they cross over into other genres.

The following are just such books. Whatever other genres they occupy, we often think of them simply as literary fiction. You’ll find here great writing, exquisitely-drawn characters, deep inter-personal relationships – all the things great books have long offered to avid readers. We think you deserve the best, and while we think each and every one of our books stand up to any others within their genre, with quality always our first priority, the following books tend to fall more into a classical style of writing. We hope you enjoy them.

Just click on the cover or the title to go to the book’s main page, where you’ll find full descriptions, book details, retail links, and more.

Hannahs_Voice_300dpi_200x300Hannah’s Voice by Robb Grindstaff
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

When six-year-old Hannah’s brutal honesty is mistaken for lying, she stops speaking. Her family, her community, and eventually, the entire nation struggle to find meaning in her silence. Hannah stands at the intersection of anarchists and fundamentalists, between power politics and an FBI investigation. All she wants is to find her momma, a little peace and quiet, and maybe some pancakes.

Carry_Me_Away_300dpi_200x300Carry Me Away by Robb Grindstaff
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

Carrie Destin, a biracial military brat, learns the injuries she sustained in a car accident will prove fatal before she reaches adulthood. Facing an abbreviated life with a brash attitude and a biting, sometimes morbid sense of humor, Carrie races to experience life before it ends, but spirals out of control, leading to a physical and emotional collapse.

Desert_Rice_300dpi_200x300Desert Rice by Angela Scott
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

When Sam meets “Jesus”—who smells an awful lot like a horse—in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. But Sam doesn’t remember, and Jacob isn’t talking.
 
Desert_Flower_300dpi_200x300Desert Flower by Angela Scott
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.8 Stars

Sam’s now a young woman of nineteen, trying to put the pieces of her life together, but the naked man in the desert spirals her world out of control, resurrecting past hurts and revealing old secrets. [Sequel to Desert Rice]
 
 
FMA_v3_300_DPI_200x300Forgive Me, Alex by Lane Diamond
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.6 Stars

…Now mortality, as it did seventeen years ago, lingers above me like the hangman’s noose. Yet it looms more ominous than ever, as if it will drop down around my neck at any moment. After all, I know the true Mitchell Norton. And whom shall I fear if not the devil, the grim torturer who conquered my aspirations and left me without a recognizable world of my own?….

Jellicle_Girl_300dpi_200x300Jellicle Girl by Stevie Mikayne
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.5 Stars

A young foster child with a wicked sense of humour and a devastating past reminds Beth that secrets seem powerful, but can destroy the person who holds them too close. Jellicle Girl is a powerful coming-of-age story about redemption, identity, and learning to let go of secrets that scar.
 
 
Weight_of_Earth_300dpi_200x300Weight of Earth by Stevie Mikayne
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

Ella’s mother refuses to talk about what happened—a secret Lydia also keeps tightly guarded, for reasons Ella doesn’t understand. A compelling story of how family loyalty entwines with personal secrecy, and what it means to be exceptional.
 
 
Torn_Together_v2_300dpi_200x300Torn Together by Emlyn Chand
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.3 Stars

Emlyn Chand’s first sojourn into Literary/New Adult fiction weaves a tale of friendship, dreams, and a lingering loss, while illustrating how our similarities often drive us apart.
 
 
 
White_Chalk_300dpi_200x300White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

When Troy Christiansen walks into Chelle’s life, she’s desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.

The_Lone_Wolf_300dpi_200x298The Lone Wolf by E.D. Martin
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.6 Stars

After her husband’s infidelities are revealed, Kasey Sanford just wants to rediscover who she is. After an abusive childhood and years as a career soldier, Andrew Adams just wants someone to tell him that he’s doing the right thing with his life. When their paths cross, Kasey and Andrew embark on a tumultuous journey that demonstrates just what they’re willing to do to save the ones they love.

~~~~~

Each of these books is bound to leave you with lasting images, and with characters you may not soon forget.

To stay up-to-date on Evolved Publishing news, including new releases, new authors, raffles and contests, etc, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Evolved Publishing Named “Publisher of the Year 2013” by Library at the End of the Universe

We had 3 of 4 authors in the Junior category (young adults, teens, and children), and 4 of 22 authors in the Adult and New Adult category.

Publisher of the YearIn the Junior category (click HERE), our winners were Michael Dadich, Emlyn Chand, and Majanka Verstraete. As each of these authors’ books includes illustrations, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention our talented artists: Mallory Rock, Sarah Shaw, and Noelle Giffin.

In the Adult and New Adult category (click HERE), our winners were Angela Scott, Robb Grindstaff, Stevie Mikayne, and Pavarti K. Tyler.

(To find all these talented individuals, please search the “Our Team” tab at the top of the page.)

And of course, we’re so pleased to have been named their Publisher of the Year for 2013. Thank you, Library at the End of the Universe!

4 New Books from Evolved Publishing on September 23, 2013

2 books for the kids, and 2 books for adults.

As is our custom, we’re offering here great entertainment for readers of all ages. Just click on the covers below, or the corresponding titles, to navigate to the product page, where you’ll find a tab with all the retail links.

Ricky_the_Runt_300dpi_200x286Ricky the Runt by Emlyn Chand (Illustrated by Noelle Giffin)
[Children’s Picture Book]

Ricky so very badly wants to be scary like his parents and big brothers. There’s just one problem: he’s tiny! Terror birds are supposed to be terrifying—it’s in the name—and even though his dad insists that Ricky’s fine just the way he is, Ricky would give anything to fit in with the rest of his family.

Frustrated and impatient, he departs from his nest and embarks on a quest to scare at least one animal, and prove himself as a Terror Bird. Does he really have to frighten somebody to fit in, or will Ricky discover another way to belong?

There’s only one way to find out: join Ricky in his prehistoric adventure in this edition of the color-illustrated Bird Brain Books series for children 4-8 years old.

 

Weirdville_Doll_Maker_300dpi_200x320The Doll Maker (A Weirdville Book) by Majanka Verstraete
[Lower Grade Chapter Book]

Derek’s little sister wants one of those creepy-looking dolls staring at him from the strange new doll shop in town, and what his sister wants, she gets. Now they’re stuck with a doll that looks so human, it gives Derek the creeps.

When Derek tells his friends, Martin and Jamie, about the new shop with creepy human-like dolls, they want to see for themselves. That has “bad idea” written all over it, but he takes his friends there anyway.

They meet the mysterious doll maker, who reminds Derek of Dr. Frankenstein, and who brainwashes Martin into buying one of those scary dolls. Derek and Jamie push and pull Martin out of the shop, but something isn’t right with their friend. He’s shivering all over, and he has no memory of what happened in the shop.

Martin’s condition worsens every day, and Derek’s sister grows more and more obsessed with her new doll. Derek and Jamie have to find out what’s going on, and fast, because….

…the doll maker seems linked to a bunch of mysterious disappearances, and the last thing Derek wants is his sister, or his friend, being next on the doll maker’s list.

Carry_Me_Away_300dpi_200x300Carry Me Away by Robb Grindstaff
[Literary Fiction / Coming of Age / Women’s Fiction]

Carrie Destin, a biracial military brat, learns the injuries she sustained in a car accident will prove fatal before she reaches adulthood. She accelerates her life and sets aggressive goals: college, connecting with her Japanese roots, and the all-consuming desire to find her soul mate. A kid from nowhere, she travels the world with her Marine father and Japanese mother.

Facing an abbreviated life with a brash attitude and a biting, sometimes morbid sense of humor, Carrie races to graduate high school at age fifteen. College is her marker of adulthood, when she can smoke in public and order dessert before dinner. She tosses out her adolescent wedding scrapbook for a funeral plan. A teenage crush on Paul, a family friend and a widower seventeen years her senior, develops into a fantasy that takes on a life of its own.

As she outlives the original prognosis into her early twenties, her life goals evolve—always short-term. The longing for love stays constant, yet she walls herself off from others. Relationships end in betrayal, abandonment and violence. When love reveals itself, she pulls away, fearing that an early meeting with Death is on the horizon.

Carrie’s frantic desire to experience life before it ends spirals out of control, leading to a physical and emotional collapse. Her grandmother’s wisdom points her toward acceptance, but first she must break through her walls before she can give the gift of ‘til-death-do-us-part.

The_Twisted_Mosaic_Omnibus_300dpi_200x300The Twisted Mosaic – Special Omnibus Edition by Amelia James
[Erotica]

All three Twisted Mosaic books (Her Twisted Pleasures, Their Twisted Love, and His Twisted Choice) in one volume, plus a deleted scene, and three exclusive bonus stories!

Dirty little secrets.

Talia indulges her sexual pleasures, turning her life into a twisted mess. Sleeping with Alex is dangerous and reckless, and she craves that excitement. Loving Will is comforting and safe, and she needs that stability. Why can’t she get everything she wants from one man?

All the wrong reasons.

Alex has everything he wants. He loves the power that comes with his job, and fooling around with his boss provides the illicit kink he needs. He’s in charge and trusts no one.

When Alex’s case forces them back together, Talia discovers she still craves both her former lovers. Can only one love her enough to satisfy her twisted desires and provide the stability she needs?

Love takes an unexpected twist.

Will loves Talia, and he’s willing to give up everything to be with her. Their future hinges on her answer to one simple question. But when he leaves his life behind to pursue her, he’s confronted with choices he didn’t expect.

No more secrets. No more lies. Old love? New love? Or do they have a third option?

~~~~~~~~~~

These new books are sure to bring you or your loved ones many hours of reading pleasure. Please enjoy!

The Subculture Club

Bio_Pic-Robb_Grindstaff_300dpi_760x869
 
 
Author Robb Grindstaff discusses a subject that informs much of his writing.

CULTURE: The ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. – Oxford Dictionary

SUBCULTURE: A cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture. – Oxford Dictionary

One of the questions all writers hear frequently is some variation of, “What’s your book about?” or the more general version of that question, “What do you write about?”

A brief synopsis of the plot might be in order—the elevator pitch that you would give an agent or publisher who wants to know the gist of the story in thirty seconds or less. Maybe the questioner is inquiring about the basic theme of one book.

At a higher level, the big-picture view, it can be a question that’s deeper than about one book. What does an author write about? What overarching elements or messages pervade a particular writer’s books? Mark Twain wrote about the Mississippi River and characters who inhabited that locale during 1800s America when slavery was legal. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the upper crust of society in the roaring twenties and the disillusionment with the American Dream. Jane Austen looked at the natural tension between individualism and the individual’s responsibility to society, romantic imagination versus rational reality.

In a recent interview, someone asked me what I write about—that bigger picture, overarching view that drives my short stories and novels. I stumbled through an unsatisfactory answer. That question has banged around in my mind ever since. One story of mine might not have anything in common with another. Different characters, different settings, different plots. Nope, nothing in common.

A few months after that interview, the “a-ha” moment hit. I thought of the right answer when I realized the common thread that runs through most of my work.

I write about unique, and uniquely American, subcultures. Whatever the plot of any of my stories might be, I tend to set these stories in some particular American subculture, and populate the stories with characters from that group.

For a more in-depth definition of terms, I turned to Kim Cochran Kiesewetter, associate professor of sociology at Sandhills College in North Carolina.

In Sociology In Focus, Ms. Kiesewetter writes, “Culture, in a nutshell, is everything that is not nature. Culture is the common beliefs, values, traditions, symbols, and behaviors a group of people in a given society share. Culture is big…and kind of vague.”

She goes on to describe subculture as “smaller groups of people with unique-to-them beliefs, values, traditions, symbols, and behaviors they share with one another that still function relatively smoothly within larger culture.”

In my novel Hannah’s Voice [Evolved Publishing, January 2013], a young girl grows up in a small, rural community in North Carolina within a traditional if somewhat fundamentalist Christian church. Even within that particular group, differences arise over Hannah’s situation. As the story progresses, Hannah eventually appears on a national television news program, and attends college in Washington, D.C. The differences between the larger culture (New York, the nation’s capital, TV journalism, university life, politics) and the subculture (rural south, Bible belt, close-knit families and communities) rise to the surface. Conflicts erupt between different groups of people who view the same situation through polar opposite subcultural lenses.

In my next novel, Carry Me Away [Evolved Publishing, September 2013], the main character, Carrie, is the biracial, bicultural daughter of a U.S. Marine officer and a Japanese mother. Carrie grows up as a military brat—living most of her youth abroad, on military bases and in the military environment, and also coming to terms with her Japanese roots and cultural identity. Sonoran Dreams, my self-published collection of short stories, is built on the rugged individualism of the people living in the Arizona desert.

I’ve had the great fortune in my life to live in different places, in and out of the U.S. I have lived among, and been a part of, several different American subcultures. I would argue that there is no singular “American culture” as such, but a collection of subcultures that live together in various degrees of harmony and tension, give and take, ebb and flow. Each is a colorful piece of cloth. They’re all stitched together into this marvelous quilt we call home.

Having been a part of several subcultures, I strive to dig a little deeper than the stereotypes and caricatures we often see in popular entertainment. Each subculture is made up of human beings, people with big hearts and giant flaws, wonderful, loving and kind people, as well as the selfish and greedy and deluded.

So to answer that interview question from a few months back: What do I write about? The overarching quest that drives most of my stories is to shine a light on the intriguing lives of various American subcultures.

The American quilt is complex and beautiful. Each square is a setting for a thousand stories, and contains an infinite number of real characters.

Sometimes, however, a quilt may become frayed and start to unravel.

~~~~~~~~~~

Robb Grindstaff’s second novel, Carry Me Away, officially launches on Monday, September 23rd, but is already available at most online retailers. For more information, CLICK HERE.