Sunday, August 30, 2015

How 'bout a FREE BOOK signed by the author? Crooked River may be yours!

Geary's Crooked River is Rife with Suspense and Secrets!

Valerie will send one lucky person a copy of her book!! 
Keep reading to find out how you can win!
This was an excellent mystery! 
Especially for a debut novel! 
Check out my review here!

BIO: Valerie Geary is the author of the debut novel, Crooked River, out now in paperback! Her short stories have appeared in The Rumpus, Day One, Menda City Review, Boston Literary Magazine, and Foundling Review. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a pound puppy named Charlie Waffles. In addition to writing, reading, and all things chocolate, Valerie enjoys gardening, hiking, cycling, beer festivals, and playing disc golf.

~Disc golf? That's a new one for me, though I guess it is just what it sounds like (per Wikipedia): According to Paul Ince of the Professional Disc Golf Association, "The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc." In just 8 years (2000-08) the number of disc golf courses doubled and it's played in about 40 countries. Cool!

1. It seems there have been several books published recently either centered around or 
    including a theme of living in isolation and off the land. What motivated you to include 
    that in this book?

There were multiple reasons I chose to have Bear living alone and off the grid. I think partly, he was a character who because of his past, felt cut off from the world already. Having him live in a teepee in a meadow was a way to show externally how he felt internally. I also think because of his anti-social tendencies, it made it easier for the townspeople to point the finger at him. Finally, I have a deeply rooted love of nature and wild spaces, and I think this book was a great chance for me to share that in an interesting way. 

~Ah...I bet your own love for that setting is what came through the writing and made it all the more real! And it did work for his character just as you stated! [Keep reading for your chance to win!]

2. What was the most confounding part of having your first novel published?

Honestly, as much as I love the word ‘confounding’, I’m not sure I’d use it to describe my feelings toward publishing a book. I did a lot of research about the publishing industry before I ever tried to sell my first book. So a lot of what happened was what I’d been expecting to happen. One thing I’ve been pleasantly surprised by, however, is the various ways Crooked River has been finding its way to readers.

It’s always a little baffling to hear from people who are reading my book—people who don’t know me personally, people who aren’t related to me, people all across the country who’ve just picked it up at a bookstore or the library or an airport. I love it, don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful! Like I said, it’s pleasantly surprising. I’m just always so curious, so nosey: how did they find out about the book, what drew them to open it up and start reading? It’s wonderful to be able to watch this book, that was mine and mine alone for so long, finally find its way to and connect with other people. It is a surreal and exciting experience.

~I won a copy of your wonderful debut through a Goodreads giveaway! A first for me! (So always enter those, folks!) And I'm so very happy to offer a free copy to one lucky winner here! Glad to know getting published wasn't 'confounding' for you! 

3. What was the first idea that made you start writing   
    this particular story?

I read an article about a man who left his family to live off the grid in Eastern Oregon. He dug a kind of hobbit hole in the ground and spent his time making art and contemplating life’s big questions. He had kids, and after I read the article, I couldn’t stop thinking about those kids and what it must have been like for them. I started to imagine Sam and Ollie and their father, Bear, and from this small spark, the story quickly expanded into something bigger and more complicated, into the novel it is today.

~Very cool! It's amazing what can spark the imagination!

4. Was any one of these characters semi-autobiographical
    for you?

In some ways, Sam and Ollie are. I have a sister, it’s just the two of us, and I’m the youngest. So in that way, I’m like Ollie. I was quiet like Ollie when I was a girl, too. But I love the woods like Sam. There are pieces of me and my sister in both girls, elements of our relationship growing up, but there are things about Sam and Ollie that aren’t like us at all—they took on their own life during the course of writing the book. For instance, I’ve never found a dead body floating in a river, never lived in a teepee in the woods, and my father has never been the prime suspect in a murder case…as far as I know anyway!

~Hah! I hope you never experienced all those things! [Read some more for a chance to win!]

5. Did you know who the perpetrator was in the first stages of writing this book? Or did 
    you have to discover that later? 

I do a significant amount of brainstorming, plotting, and outlining before I ever start drafting a book. So yes, I knew the “who” early on. However the motives changed a little as I came to know the characters better. There were other things I didn’t know at the start that revealed themselves during the writing, too, but I can’t say what those were without spoiling the ending!

~Thank you for omitting spoilers! :) 

6. I loved the fact that you included information about beekeeping. That accomplished 
    several things for me as a reader: it leant a certain believability/credulity to bear’s 
    independence from society and seeming ability to support himself, it provided insight 
    into bear’s intellectuality, and it afforded Sam an opportunity to learn and grow in a 
    socially-acceptable way, regardless of her virtual isolation. I’m rather curious as to 
    whether your intentions as an author included any of these, or if it was entirely 
    something else.

This is great insight, Lynn! And yes, many of the reasons you mention here were part of my decision to add the bees. I also really liked the way they complemented the supernatural elements of the book. There is a lot of history and myth about honeybees and the souls of the dead, and the more research I did, the more certain I felt that they needed to be included as characters in this story.

~Now that is cool! And will probably initiate a whole afternoon of online research for me!   :)

7. Do you believe certain of us humans are capable of communicating/interacting with 
    beings other than humans, as is Ollie? I ask because I do, but I’m always curious about 
    authors’ beliefs regarding such themes in their published works… For example, I was 
    shocked to learn that Bruce Cameron does not himself believe in reincarnation! 

While I love reading and writing stories with supernatural elements, when it comes to my real life I tend to be more of an open-minded skeptic. I like the idea that there is more to this world than what we see right in front of us. I like to imagine it. And while I don’t think I’d be very surprised if ghosts actually do exist, as of right now I haven’t had enough personal experience or been offered enough proof to say with utmost certainty that it’s possible to communicate with them.

[Almost there for your chance at a free book!]

8. What are you working on next?

I’ve always been a little superstitious about my writing and don’t like to talk much about projects that are in the early stages of creation or books that haven’t yet sold. Part of my reason for this is that the act of creating a story is very different from sharing that finished book with readers. It requires a different set of skills, a different mindset, so I’m usually very protective and private of that creative space. However, I will say this…I’ve been working on a second novel with suspense and supernatural elements that will hopefully make its way into the world someday soon. You and other readers are always welcome to sign up for my newsletter or like my Facebook page—these are the two best ways to get information about future projects and publications!

~I never really considered those differences before. I'm sure that's true. And that, my friends, leads us to the list below of various ways to connect directly with Valerie! She is quite receptive to readers and is a very nice person! 

Did you want a free copy?!? To have your name entered to win a free copy of Crooked River, just leave a comment below that includes your email address. A winner will be selected by random drawing at 7PM (my time) on Labor Day (in the U.S.), Monday, September 7th! Each person will be entered once. (Leaving 10 comments will not get your name entered 10 times! Yes, someone already asked!) I will email the lucky winner for their mailing information. Good luck!! I sure was lucky to win my copy, so it is nice of Valerie to allow someone else to do the same! 

And the winner was Emily! Her free copy of this wonderfully written debut, signed by the author, is on its way to her!


  1. I would love to win! Thank you so much for the chance! :)

    1. Valerie is the one to be thanked! She is such a nice person!! :) And a great mystery writer, in my opinion. :)

    2. So glad you stopped by and hope you get to read this fantastic debut! Unfortunately, yours was not the name pulled out of the hat this time around! :)

  2. Blogger must not be working well today! Received an email of a comment on this post--but it's not appearing on the blog! :( Anyway, we have another entry:

    Stumbled across this blog looking for new books. This looks like a great one!
    I'd love to win it.

    1. And Emily's name is the one drawn out of the hat! :) Congratulations!

  3. i'd love to win!!although i know its a little bit late now==.

    1. Yes, as you can see by the final sentence in the posting, someone else won the free copy. Though I can highly recommend the book! :) Thanks for stopping by!