Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Showcase: The Heart of Annie by debut author J.S. Foote.


THE HEART OF ANNIE tells the story of Lilly Roche and Curtis Walker, whose lives have flourished socially and professionally, but who find themselves single through a combination of circumstance, choice, and heartbreak. Lilly's mother passed away when she was a teenager, leaving her to an adolescence spent coping with her father's depression and her brother's ceaseless bullying. The divorce of Curtis' ill-matched parents at age thirteen, and later his own failed engagement, leaves him on emotional cruise control, surfing through dozens of patchwork relationships, unwilling to fully connect. But one fall when Curtis’ uncle Bob Walker, dear to both Lilly and Curtis, suffers a heart attack, it brings Curtis from Los Angeles to Lilly's Austin. Their unexpected reconnection—after first meeting as children—shocks them both awake to the desire to pursue love, and more awakened lives for themselves. Lilly begins to find her voice and stand up for herself against her brother. Curtis, at last, puts an end to a casual relationship with his girlfriend, Robin, and taking his first steps in the direction of developing healthier committed relationships, adopts an abandoned German Shepherd. As Lilly and Curtis fall in love and navigate their new relationship, each character has to learn how to drop their defenses and re-examine their role in creating their own historically stagnant narrative. This insight allows Lilly to begin aggressively defining her boundaries with her family and pursue her own desires, while Curtis begins to shed his cynical abandonment of hope and to reimagine himself as a man worthy of a happy ending.

J.S. Foote is a lawyer and writer in Austin, Texas. Before getting her law degree, she lived in New York City where she was an editor for Family Life magazine (Wenner Media and Hachette Filipacchi Media US), and a freelance writer for magazines such as Cosmopolitan. The Heart of Annie is her first book; she currently at work on its sequel.

When not writing and practicing law, she is hiking on the greenbelt with her white labrador, Maddox, and largely unsuccessfully training her boyfriend's dog, Henry, not to eat her shoes. She is currently writing this barefoot.

1.         What inspires your writing? My best inspirations come when I’m ironing, or sweeping, or thinking about anything else but writing. When I’m in the groove, I like to take my dog out for a walk, think about a scene, and then come home and write it.  My dog really likes it when I’m in the groove.  So does my boyfriend’s dog. When I’m at my desk, he likes to sleep under my feet.

2.         What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
            It’s who I am. I feel the most fulfilled when I’m writing.  

3.         What is the toughest part of being a writer?
            Having faith that there are some nuggets worth saving in the first draft.

4.         If you could not be a writer, what would you be?

            Probably the other thing I do—practice law.

5.         What would the story of your life be entitled?

It Will Get Better.

6.         What’s your favorite book of all time?

            Favorite Book: All the Pretty Horses.  

            Favorite Writers: William Styron and Edith Wharton.    

7.         Which character from any book are you most like?

I think I have shades of Lily Bart from The House of Mirth in me, which may or may not be a good thing. She did have a tough ending. But I recognize some of myself in her…the way she secretly tries to rebel from society. I also always identify with pretty much any Ephron character—be it crafted by either Delia or Nora.

8.         What character from your book are you most like?

I heard somewhere that an author is in all the characters she has written, and I think that is true. There are qualities in Lilly that I had—the professional woman who has not done enough to develop other parts of herself. Also, Curtis…the way he can’t get out of his own way.  

 9.         Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
            I’d like to go to one of Gatsby’s parties in the Hamptons.

10.       What’s your favorite season? Spring, when the flowers have started blooming.
11.       What inspired your book cover?

            This passage in The Heart of Annie:
“From the most inhospitable environments, wild beauty can emerge. Protected by a hard seed coat, the Texas bluebonnet cannot flower unless broken down, yielding only after rocks, wind and rains have nicked away her outer shell. Her life begins in unhealthy, alkaline soils, where rain-softened seeds finally begin to geminate—roots emerge, leaves cluster into rosettes. Frost only strengthens the young plants. And then, the spring. A warm sun. Tall stalks shooting toward the sky. A scattering. An Easter celebration.”

12.       Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book? It’s just started, so no war stories quite yet.

13.       Are you working on something new? I’m working on the sequel. It’s still in its early phases and I prefer not to talk about it until the second or third draft, but it is a continuation of these characters, with a bigger focus on Bob, I think.

14.       Anything that you want to say to followers of this blog or to those that are just stopping by? I love hearing from my readers so feel free to drop me a note on Twitter at @JSFoote or at my website:

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