It's my 3rd book's birthday week! 📖
Kindergarten teacher Lily Gallo is a happily married mother of three who considers her life perfect… until the day she’s brutally assaulted while out on a run. When the town’s high school football hero is arrested for the attack, Lily’s family suffers retaliation from local sports fans.Recovering from her injuries, Lily wraps herself in an opioid cloud. Later, a barely avoided tragedy motivates her to flush the narcotics. But her return to sobriety is overshadowed by unnerving memory lapses and her husband’s growing mistrust.
As unremembered events become more disturbing, Lily is convinced that she’s being stalked. Though her attacker started the destruction of her life, someone else is determined to finish it.
Once you begin this unflinchingly honest portrayal of a woman fighting to reclaim her life, be prepared for an up all night, edge of your seat binge-a-thon.
- Heather Gudenkauf ~ New York Times bestselling author of The Overnight Guest
When Lily Gallo suffers a violent attack, shockwaves run through her small town. She struggles to recover, burdened by guilt and dazed by opioids. Whom can you trust when you can no longer trust yourself?
I was mesmerized by this suspenseful story, eager to learn what (or who?) was behind Lily's turmoil and how she might knit her life back together. Anderson does a stellar job in creating genuine characters, imperfect like all of us. I feared for Lily, and cheered for her, and know you will, too. Revel in this well-paced, heartfelt story about family, failings, and forgiveness.
- Sonja Yoerg, Washington Post bestselling author of True Places and The Family Ship
I started writing my feelings in grade school, using notebooks (my first one had Donny Osmond on the cover!) as a diary/journal. I continued with my children’s lives from the time I became pregnant with them and gave those notebooks filled with my rambling emotions to them when they became adults. I’m sure they treasure them. (Hah!)
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
The sport of curling in the fall and winter! Summer is lake time here in Minnesota.
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
Quiet. I blame it on the “days of silence” inflicted on us in the Catholic high school I attended.
And in the morning, I require a large iced mocha (plenty of espresso and chocolate!)
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I started running, and writing (not at the same time though, I’m not that talented) at age forty-five, thanks to a saying I heard around that time: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
They were two things I always wanted to try, but figured I wouldn’t succeed—by whose standard of success, I have no idea. Once I got the running and writing bugs, that was it. It was full-speed ahead. Well, “speed” may be stretching the truth.
Where do you get your ideas?
Every book I’ve written contains slivers of my life, or others I know, twisted and changed, but overall, real life triggers most of my plot ideas, seasoned with plenty of "what if" questions.
After I finished my fourth book (I’m looking for a home for it now) I wasn’t sure what I would write next. Then I found the POW bracelet my mom wore fifty years ago, connected with the surviving POW (he’s 90!) and there it was… the seed for book five.
If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?
A foot model. j/k. I've said for decades that my feet were my best feature, and it’s a shame they’re covered up nine months out of the year here in Minnesota! But after several years of running (and aging) they’re a little less attractive. My husband thinks I still have a shot as an AARP foot model though. J
What are you working on now?
I recently finished my fourth book that I (and my husband) love—my favorite story so far. (I know, I know, like children, you aren’t supposed to have favorites.) It is women’s literary fiction, a little different from my first three books, and I understand it may be more difficult to place. But it is a story I’m willing to fight for. I’m quite in love with it!
Do you have a manuscript in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?
Not yet, and hopefully never. We put so much time, heart, and energy into writing a story, I’d hate to have it live the rest of its life out in a drawer. Four books written so far, three published, and the fourth is one I’m determined to get out into the world. (See above comments about how I feel about book #4!)
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
In A Life Unraveled, Lily is attacked while running on a paved trail, a place she’s run many times. That false sense of security has jolted me a few times, back when I’d running long distances for training (in my 40s and 50s.) One time, I was miles from town on a dirt road. A pickup slowed down, and the man drove alongside me, striking up a conversation. Panic zapped me at first until I recognized him as the father of one of my daughter’s friends from high school. But he could’ve been anyone, and my little pack of pepper spray wouldn’t have helped. I had a couple other scares like this, and they reinforced how vulnerable we can be.
Another scene is when Lily reflects on how she and her husband Luke met. When I was about fifty, I was stopped at a railroad crossing, waiting for a train. There was a cute driver in the old pickup in front of me, and he kept smiling at me in his rearview mirror. I laughed, knowing he was about half my age (I had sunglasses on and those hide a lot of years!) At that point, I knew I’d someday write that scene in a book, especially after I thought of what I’d have done if I was thirty years younger and not married. I’d have done just what Lily does in A Life Unraveled!
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
Books go through several (who am I kidding? Dozens!) of drafts before they see the light of day. There are three scenes in A Life Unraveled that never changed from my first draft, scenes I had a clear vision of from the beginning.
One is a flashback of how Lily and Luke met. The other two I’ll call “the mailbox scene with Pria” (their 15 yr. old daughter) and “the cow costume scene.” I love all three of those scenes.
Do you have other books you’d like to talk about here?
I could go on about each of my books, but I’d rather have you read them. J A Life Unraveled, Crazy Little Town Called Love, and The To Hell and Back Club.
And I'm hoping you'll be able to read my fourth book (see above comments) someday soon. Here’s a short synopsis:
Rural Missouri, 1977:
Joleigh, the main character, is Korean-Caucasian, raised in foster care, and adopted by Unity, an elderly woman who teaches Joleigh how to trap leeches and how to live off the land. After Joleigh graduates from high school, she continues to live on the hobby farm to care for Unity, who has dementia.
After Unity passes away, Joleigh is alone—again. The only person in her life is her unreliable boyfriend, Mack. When Joleigh witnesses his murder, she’s forced to flee the only place she’s called home, knowing Mack's killers are looking for her.
She stows away in her neighbor’s car and lands in rural Minnesota, waiting until it’s safe to return home. Over time, unique townspeople worm their way into her heart: people who look nothing like family, but who love like family: a young girl with an alcoholic father and no mother, a wheelchair-bound Vietnam Veteran, an elderly motel owner who Joleigh loves like a grandpa, and a spunky Native American woman who nourishes Joleigh's emotional wounds. People who help Joleigh understand that “home” is people, not place. But she hasn’t been honest with her newfound family. Before she navigates her future, she must reveal the secrets of her past, and find Mack’s killers—before they find her.
Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…?”
I would love to write about my great-grandma Hannah. She was a woman who journeyed to America from Ireland, buried too many babies and young children, lost her husband in his mid-thirties, ran a farm on her own for decades, cared for men who rode the rails during the depression, took in her sister and her children, and lived to be ninety.
Favorite band or music?
My favorite years of music are late 1960s – early 1970s, everything from Chicago to Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night to Grand Funk Railroad, Bread to The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival to Led Zeppelin, The Supremes to The Rolling Stones, and everything in between.
New music favorites are Lord Huron, The Lumineers, KALEO, Michael Kiwanuka, First Aid Kit, Plain White T’s, BORNS… can you tell I like music?
Favorite TV shows?
Until I retired from my day job, a few years ago, I rarely watched TV. Two years ago, we discovered streaming, and I was hooked! The first show I binged was Homeland. Last year it was Schitt's Creek, and this winter was Ted Lasso.
If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…
Iced mochas (see above) peanut butter and English muffins, plenty of books, and music. Oh yes, lots of fresh water. Maybe throw in a few apples for good measure.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
Birthing a book often takes more time, energy, and emotion than a pregnancy and birth (and also often brings weight gain, as authors do a lot of sitting in front of a computer.) So when that book baby is finally out in the world, hearing from readers who enjoyed the story is the reassurance authors need to know it was worth the angst and hours.
So thank you to readers who give feedback to authors. Your words encourage us to continue writing our words. Read ~ Recommend ~ Review… it’s what makes the book world go round!
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