Thursday, January 06, 2011

Patricia Snodgrass and Her Book Glorious

Today author Patricia Snodgrass is stopping by to do a guest blog about her book, Glorious. Check it out and do leave her comments. :)
Every state has them, and if you’ve done any travelling, you’ve been through at least one of them. I’m referring to those small towns that seem innocuous on the surface, but as soon as you go past the city limit sign you drive a little slower, because you know that if you don’t you might get caught speeding and you have no desire to stop there, not even for a moment. You’ll drive past gas stations and convenience stores even though you’re low on gas or need a bathroom break. But you’d rather push the car just a little further on a quarter of a tank of gas, or relieve yourself on the side of the road rather than to stop there.

And once you finally do get through town, you speed up; moving a little faster than you normally would because you really, really want to see that creepy little hamlet receding in your rear view mirror.

You might not know exactly what caused you so much discomfort. The town you just passed through looks like every other town. All you know for certain is that there is a profound sense of relief that you didn’t have to linger there. And even though you cast a final glance back and shudder ever so slightly, you know on a deep instinctive level that things aren’t as they seem, just like a log in the forest looks solid and secure enough to walk on, you dare not turn it over, because you know there’s rot and filth underneath.

The fictional town of Overton, Arkansas described in my novel Glorious, is one such town. Founded in the early 1800’s by a sect of the Society of Friends, Overton was an out of the way stop on the Underground Railroad. Men would travel to larger cities such as Little Rock or Fort Smith, and purchase slaves, take them back to Overton, teach them a trade, and then sell them to abolitionists who, in theory at least, set them up in businesses in Free states.

Even then, there is a subtle evil about the town, something intrinsically bad, but anything anyone could quite put their proverbial finger on. But you know, just as surely as that there is rot underneath the aforementioned log, that something is very, very wrong with this town.
Something that makes you push your foot down on that gas pedal and rush your way through it. Yet, you know that if you do, you’ll get caught and you might, God help you, just might, have to spend the night there.

Glorious Wilks sensed the evil, but as a child, was unable to stop it. Stan Gilmer, sensed it, and in his madness, tapped into it, and destroyed the town.

Some people are squeamish about the subject matter in Glorious. One podcast owner withdrew her invitation to interview me after having read the book, for fear that it would upset her African American listeners. One reviewer stated my novel was well written but not for the faint of heart.

They pushed their gas pedal down a little too hard, and ran away from an odd little town that was trapped in a frightening time where women were regarded as toys, blacks deemed as inferior, and the presidency was possible only to the wealthiest of white males. It is after all, so much easier to floor the car, and get as far away as possible, peeing in relief behind a tree in the middle of nowhere than to stop, get out and explore the town, to see it for what it really is: a reflection on our times.

And the reason being is that we as a people, as The People, haven’t come as far as we like to think we have. We are, after all, friends and neighbors…right?

Despite the apparent controversy, I don’t think Glorious is any more or less contentious than anything Faulkner wrote. I don’t think it’s any more frightening than anything Maya Angelo penned in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Nor do I think it’s any more or less disturbing than the imagery found in To Kill a Mockingbird, which, by the way, inspired me to write Glorious in the first place.

A writer’s main duty to her audience is to tell the truth, no matter how ugly that truth is. I wrote about racism, sexism and insanity. I also wrote about friendship, love, hope and change that transcended race and gender.

Most of all, I told the truth.

Emily Prudhomme is terrified of her stepfather, and for good reason. A man who was raised by an abusive father and uncle, he is convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is talking to him personally through a radio he keeps in his office.

Emily, alienated by her stepfather’s bizarre behavior, is befriended by Glorious, an African-American girl with beautiful amber-colored eyes and the ability to see the thoughts of others. Outcast because of their differences, the girls become fast friends.

When a tragic accident occurs on the banks of the Little Missouri river leaving one girl dead and the other hopelessly maimed for life, rage and revenge creates a firestorm that not only destroys a town but the lives of two families.


Emily Prudhomme was afraid of God. She was afraid of her stepfather, who was God’s representative on earth. But most of all, she feared the demon that lurked inside her.
The monster forced the right side of her face to twitch, and occasionally, when she was especially frightened, it would utter bizarre yipping noises. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make it stop. In fact, the harder she tried, the worse it got. For as long as she could remember, people thought she was retarded, her schoolmates shunned her. The doctor told her mother that it was just a twitch that Emily would grow out of. But Stan knew what the real culprit was, and the only way to save her, he said, was to have the demon confronted in church.
Emily sat on the foot of her bed, staring into the mirror, waiting for the time to come when she would have to go to church—to Stan’s church— and not to the little sandstone Episcopalian building in Prescott, Arkansas, where she’d been baptized and spent her childhood.
No, Stan’s house of worship was quite different, and she was afraid of the God that dwelt there.
Emily regarded her reflection in the mirror. At thirteen, she wasn’t quite pretty; and it was just as well as far as her step dad was concerned. Pretty girls were silly, vain, lustful and inattentive in their duty to God. They were a problem because boys sniffed like redbone hounds around them, wanting only one thing, and girls were too weak willed to resist. Or so Stan constantly reminded her.
I don’t think it would matter if I were pretty, really, she thought. Nobody would come near me, not with the way my face jumps.
Stan wasn’t a horrible man Emily chided herself. He hadn’t beaten her, nor had he starved her, nor did any terrible things stepparents were legendary for. He did stare at her chest, but it was always in a thin-lipped, disapproving way that made her feel like she’d done something dirty.
He was strict, and did expect her to live by his rules, which in a way was a relief. Everyone in the small town of Overton knew the evangelical pharmacist, and many tended to steer clear of him. So when the ‘cooler’ kids tried to tempt her, she’d say no because Stan would get mad. They would shiver ever so slightly and nod; then walk away.
Stan’s commandments were simple: No boys. No jewelry, flashy dresses, slacks or pant suits. No cigarettes. No booze or drugs and absolutely no makeup. Come home, do your chores and homework. Read your Bible. Pray. Attend church. Pray.
That was the Gospel According to Stan, the stepfather and God’s representative. Nobody knew more about the Bible than Stan. And he knew there were demons because the Good Book said so.
Emily took her rubber tipped brush and flung it at the mirror, which bounced off with a soft ‘shlack’ as it struck the polished surface.

Title: Glorious
Author: Patricia Snodgrass
Publisher: Mundania Press

Price: 12.95 paper, 4.99 ebook download

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