“Take my hand.” A simple request with the power to change everything.
Artist Clay Cahill retreats to her hometown of Pine Cone, Georgia, when she’s betrayed by a woman she thought cared and the pressure of the New York City art world becomes too much. Setting paints aside, she takes a job at her grandfather’s garage seeking the restorative comfort of small town life where women are sweet and life flows as slow as molasses.
Manhattan art gallery owner River Hemsworth is preparing for a show when she’s informed her aunt has bequeathed her a local gallery in Pine Cone, a place where the idea of fashion is anything with a Carhart label. En route to review inventory and unload the property quickly, River wrecks and Clay comes to her rescue.
If River can convince Clay to start painting again, she may be able to pull off the show that will make her career and quench the desires she never expected to feel again.
Welcome to part one of the sweet, romantic adventures of Pine Cone, Georgia. I was super excited to write this trilogy with two of my favorite authors: VK Powell and D. Jackson Leigh
Baby me and my granddad with the car featured in Whiskey Sunrise.
I’m wrapping up the manuscript for my fourth novel with Bold Strokes Books, Whiskey Sunrise, and I realized last night that I needed to flesh out a few parts of the story. One part in particular is the relationship between the main character and her grandfather. Over dinner my wife reminded me of a photo she’d seen of me and my grandfather working on cars together. She encouraged me to use my own experience to flesh out this particular scene in the book. It seems silly now that I didn’t think of my own experiences with my grandfather as source material. I mean, I’m sure on some level, unconsciously, that’s absolutely where parts of this story came from. But I’d completely forgotten about this one photo of mine in particular where the car featured in Whiskey Sunrise actually makes an appearance in the background. My granddad was an early participant in dirt-track, stock car races in rural Georgia and he always had some hot-rod-in-progress in his garage.
One of the unique aspects of Whiskey Sunrise is that the grandfather in the story allows the main character to be who she is. He doesn’t try to force her into some preordained female role, he allows her to love cars and drive fast. He expects her to be able to do anything a boy her age could do.
My wife and I wondered whether that sort of child rearing approach was plausible. Whether a grandfather, who grew up in a different era, could raise a granddaughter in this way. That’s when I was reminded of these photos and had to dig them out. I’m even more inspired now to add these details to Whiskey Sunrise.
You never think of your own life as remarkable because you’re in it. You’re too close to it. But thinking back, here was this man who came to adulthood during the Depression, was raised in the very conservative Deep South, who had allowed me to be myself. That’s pretty remarkable.
And out of respect for those of you who may not be as into cars as I am, I’ll try and keep the “car talk” to a minimum in Whiskey Sunrise. As is the case with most stories I’m interested in, this one is really all about the characters.
One of my favorite characters in Whiskey Sunrise. Stay tuned 🙂
I’ve been working on my third book for Bold Strokes Books titled, Whiskey Sunrise, and it’s been interesting to watch the characters for this story evolve. Unlike with my first book, All Things Rise, where I knew the characters well before I started writing, these characters have been revealing themselves to me a little at a time. Currently, of the two leading women, one character is more butch and one character is more femme, but I’m learning that the fabric of their personalities is much more complex than those two labels imply. In addition to the context of operating a moonshine operation in a dry county in the Deep South in 1939, this book is also turning into an exploration of gender.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to be good friends with a few trans men and it has made me take notice of the subtle aspects of gender conditioning in our culture. Neither of the characters in this book are trans, but my exposure to a bit more trans culture has broadened the way I think about gender, and how we are expected to act, even write, a certain way depending on who we are perceived to be in our gendered society. I think my trans friends uniquely experience this reality, and they have influenced how my Whiskey Sunrise characters tap into this truth.
This story is also tapping into deeply personal religious experiences that I had growing up in the South — experiences that relate to gay issues, roles of women in the church and racism. I realize I’m making this sound like sort of a heavy read, but believe it or not, there’s actually quite a bit of humor in this book. The best humor has its roots in heartache I suppose.
Oh, and yes, there is a steamy romantic thread weaving all of these elements in the story together. The one thing that has been obvious from the first few lines of this book is that these two characters have incredible chemistry. I’m enjoying this glimpse into their world, feeling what they feel as they learn to be authentically themselves while at the same time falling in love.