Grace Sammon joins us this week to chat about her latest book, The Eves. Welcome!
Author Name: Grace Sammon
Book Title: The Eves
Book Genre: fiction, up-market women’s fiction, families, relationships
Release Date: 15 June 2020
Publisher: originally KDP/Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Published for world-wide release on 1 December 2020, UpStream Press.
How would you briefly describe The Eves ?
Join the psychologically complex Jessica; she’s given up on her looks and her ambition, but not her vodka or her sense of loss or guilt. That is until she meets The Eves, a group of diverse, determined, and some times ditzy old women determined to leave their mark on the world.
What sparked the idea for your latest book?
There were several instances that spanned decades, actually. The first in a John Pryne song that I first experienced through Bette Midler. It speaks of aging and how much of society makes older people “invisible.” There is a lyric that goes something like, “so if you pass some hallowed ancient eye, don’t pass them by and stare, as if you didn’t care, say hello in there, hello.” That song changed the way I view and interact with my elders. Then, as I myself was aging, I’m 67 right now, I felt I was “aging out” of my roles of daughter, wife, mother, and even career entrepreneur and author. For me, these two things posed a dilemma, “who did I want to be when I grew, not up, but old.” I resorted to writing, something I have done throughout my life. I created the incredibly complex Jessica, made her life more complicated than my own, and then worked at seeing if I could make her whole through her interactions with a diverse group of older characters.
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do have to do any research?
From concept-to-publication was more than five years. From fingers-to-keyboard-to-publication about ten months.
Ah! Research! Yes, lots and I loved it. I like to think of The Eves as a book for people who love to learn. The educator in me came out. As a reader, I love a character-rich novel with a strong sense of place. To get that right I had to make sure I had the details right for being in Washington, DC, Southern Maryland, Tanzania and Norway. The characters in the book range in age from 15 to 94. They are Black, white, Latinx, and Native American. They are cysgender and there is a lesbian couple. Those voices also had to be true, which required a strong Beta group. Lastly, I love factoids. So, when one of the characters has brain cancer I explored and included interesting, valid treatment options, like a maverick, real treatment – the injection of polio virus into the brain. The main characters live on a sustainable farm. That meant I needed to be able to credibly talk about recycled materials, gray-water systems and the like. Also, and this was a surprise, I wanted the cultural diversity and differences to be real. There is a debate between two characters, one white, one Black about having a Juneteenth celebration. The white woman knows nothing about the event. I’d posit that prior to the summer of 2020 and the murder of George Flloyd, most white Americans didn’t know either. What is surprising is that that part of the book was drafted almost two years ago. So, research yes, but not enough to be nerdy.
What drew you to the women’s fiction genre?
As a woman, as a woman entrepreneur, as a mentor to other women it is just in my DNA. It is my voice. As an educator and researcher I know that men live longer if they are married and women live longer if they have good girlfriends. I wanted to explore that theme in the book. The Eves is about diverse women, some broken, some whole. Together they are better. Jessica needs her bossy girlfriend to help her see what she cannot about herself.
I also like to play with how complex we are as people. I love when a reader reaches out and says I’ve told her story. I love it when I hear from a 94 year old woman that she wants to take her place at The Eves and she hopes there is a sequel in her lifetime. That said, while I tend to live in the world of women’s fiction, some of my favorite reviews are from men. It’s a special delight when a man tells me he misses Tobias at the end of the book or that he feels lucky to have the women of The Eves as newfound friends.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
I’m an eavesdropper; I listen to conversations; take snippets of news articles, and I have great empathy for others. Above all, I listen to the stories of others and marvel at the fabric of human existence. If we listen, all the stories are already there.
For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
Right now, it’s the discipline of a routine. Covid has made many things more difficult. Readers tell me they’ve switched to audiobooks because they can’t concentrate. I find it difficult to balance the parts of my brain that have to attend to social media, interviews, new technologies, and the like with the parts of me that need to settle down with the work for my next novel. We spoke about research before, I’m also getting bogged down a little on some tangents regarding ancestry and the suffragette movement.
What do you love most about it?
The pure joy of the words! I marvel at the magic of twenty-six letters constantly re-arranged on a page that pulls you in a million emotional and intellectual directions. For me, there is something about the process of an idea that suddenly spills out the end of your fingers, onto a keyboard and then splashes onto a page that is pure joy. I love when I’m surprised at where the process goes. When it’s really wonderful, I can sit for hours and it feels like minutes.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read The Eves?
There are three central themes in the book that are at the heart of the human condition – families, friendship, and leaving our mark on the world. Even when I am writing non-fiction, I think the reader can be assured of stories that are told with poignancy and humor. In The Eves there are three bold plot twists that will keep the reader engaged, and, apparently, according to my readers, in search of a sequel, which would be delicious.
How does your past career inform your novel writing?
I have the luxury of being “retired” from educational consulting and a “job.” That said, my years in education and travelling to 32 states has provided a rich trove of information and nuances for my fiction writing.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I’m relatively newly married, just 8 years, so I have a great interest in being with, and growing together with, my husband. Just as an aside, I am frequently told that the characters in my book are so incredibly believable with the exception of Roy Gillis. That’s funny because he is my husband to a T. He is the least fictitious and one of the most delightful of all of the characters.
When there was no Covid, theatre was a big part of our lives. I play tennis and pickleball and walk several times a week. I also, finally, have time for the gift of girlfriends on a regular basis. My bio says I live with a small herd of imaginary llamas. I wish they were real. Animals play a big part in The Eves.
Are you working on a new project?
I am! My next novel is The Egg and it’s the story of two sisters who emigrate to the US because of food rationing circa 1916. That’s the beginning. It’s also the story of a young woman, given up for adoption and her search for her past. Someplace in the middle the two stories will connect, but I don’t know quite where yet.
How are you adjusting to marketing a book during a pandemic?
Several months ago I would have said it was really difficult, but as I alluded to earlier, it’s actually been really interesting and good. I’m selling in several countries out-side the US and I believe that is because of the podcasters, interviewers, bloggers and vlogges from around the world. I’m certainly hitting markets that traditional book tours would not have connected me with, for example those younger than me and non-white talents.
There’s also the timeliness of the book that has broad appeal right now. With its rich and diverse voices, the challenges we’ve witnessed of aging in nursing homes, and the horrible tragedies experienced by so many of not having good good-byes with loved ones The Eves is a book that is sparking important conversations and that’s one of the reasons I wrote it. These themes have resonated with a far broader age group than I would have imagined.
Zoom, Go to Meeting, IG TV and all the other platforms have also made authors more available to readers and readers more hungry for connections with authors. A few months ago I would have been tied up in angst over it, but circumstances, and maybe my entrepreneurial nature, have eased me into a solid feeling about the work.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Feel free to include any upcoming, live/online events, workshops, too!
Readers should feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit my website at www.gracesammon.net. At my website there are more interviews and media coverage. More importantly, perhaps there are book club guides, recipes, and samples of the music that influenced the writing of the book. Readers can also follow me on IG and FB @GraceSammonWrites and send me a direct message. I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn. I really enjoy interacting with readers and am happy, especially during these still difficult times to do author events and book club meetings.
Thank you for having me, Sarahlyn. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you and your readers. I’m grateful for the interest and support you show women and fellow authors, thank you. Let’s stay connected around the important work of sharing our stories! -Thank you. Be well, be amazing.
Thank you, Grace! The Eves is OUT NOW.
The Eves is a multi-generational novel portraying lives lived well and lives in transition. Filled with poignancy and humor,The Eves is told through the voice of the psychologically complex Jessica Barnet. This is her story. As the primary witness in a messy trial she has been torn from the foundation of her existence—her connection to her children. With a partially finished doctoral degree, and incomplete renovations on her Washington, DC row house, she has let go of her ambitions and her appearance, but not her vodka or her sense of loss and guilt. When Jessica meets a group of diverse, determined, and sometimes ditzy old women living in a sustainable community, everything and everybody changes. Through plot twists and turns that cover three continents, we learn the truth of Jessica’s life and lies just as we fall in love with the vividly drawn characters and the vibrantly described settings.
Grace Sammon is an educator, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She spent nearly 30 years working in American high schools, travelling nearly 200 days per year, in 32 states and on Tribal lands. She started and managed two for-profits, and two nonprofit, companies. Her focus in her earlier years was on high school improvement which led to work with Federal and state agencies as well as school districts and tribal land schools. The Eves is her fourth book and debut novel. The previous three books were in the area of education. The experience of writing those books, and writing in a fiction format, as well as launching as an Indie author, particularly during a pandemic, makes for interesting stories.
Although the pandemic has made it difficult to connect with readers in a traditional manner, Covid has also provided the setting to appear on multiple TV and radio broadcasts, podcasts, blogs and other venues. Grace enjoys being able “to travel” to Nevada, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania in a single week.and doesn’t miss the frequent flyer miles. Today, she comes to us from her home in Southwest Florida where she lives with her husband and a small herd of imaginary llamas.
The Eves is tracking well on Amazon at 4.8 stars and on Goodread at about 4.7.