Please take a look at Cheryl Holloway‘s blog for an interview we did about The Pecan Man. Cheryl gave me the opportunity to talk about some interesting aspects of my work, and I am incredibly grateful to her. Please visit her blog and share it with your friends!
Beanie Bradsher has never had a boyfriend, never driven a car, and never won the lottery, but some of that is about to change. When the Mayhew Café regulars suspect her of carrying on with a married man, speculation runs rampant. It reaches a fever pitch when said married man moves Beanie in to care for his ailing wife and five children. But all is not as it seems.
Every town has at least one beloved, if misunderstood, eccentric and Beanie Bradsher belongs to Mayhew Junction. Some – LouWanda Crump, for example – would call Beanie a spectacle, but Beanie just marches (and dresses) to the beat of a different drum. Not much has changed over the years in this town. On any given morning, you’ll find the same people at the same table at the same café, and none of them have changed one iota in the past twenty years. But now Beanie Bradsher has won the lottery, and might be dating Sweet Lee Atwater’s husband. And the hometown basketball star Vesuvius Jones just got a face full of Red Velvet cake at the Trunk-or-Treat. The gossip has never been juicier, which might just be a good thing. Lord knows this town could use a good shaking up.
BFA in Creative Writing
I finally did it, y’all! I started taking college classes when I was in my twenties when I was the single mother of two young daughters. I plugged away at my degree, one class at a time, skipping semesters and years as my personal life demanded. In 2014, that all changed when The Pecan Man became a self-publishing success and allowed me to quit my job and return to college full-time for the first time in my life. I graduated on September 18, 2016 from Goddard College in Vermont, with a BFA in Creative Writing. My three beautiful daughters were by my side celebrating with me, and I have never been more proud. Sweet husband couldn’t make it, but he was super proud, too, and has always been my biggest supporter and source of encouragement.
Here’s the thing…I published my first book, optioned movie rights and graduated from college, all in my fifth decade of life. It’s never too late as long as you are still putting one foot in front of the other. What are YOU waiting for? Your dreams are possible and you deserve to see them come true.
I’m excited to announce that The Pecan Man has been optioned by an independent film company out of New York and LA. More on the company to follow, but for now, I’m excited about the prospect of my novel being adapted to film.
Many readers have commented that they can see the story as a film, and this has never surprised me. I write using what I call a “mind movie”, where I actually see the scene unfolding and transcribe the visual. I have always thought of The Pecan Man as a movie in book form, so I cannot wait to see how my vision in interpreted.
For those of you who don’t know, I have been working on a BFA in Creative Writing for the past three years and will graduate in September of this year. This is a bittersweet thing for me, as I lost my beloved mother in February. She would have been 82 the weekend I will graduate. I am still stunned and grieving her loss. It was my greatest wish that she finally see me graduate from college. I know she will be with me in spirit, and she is always in my heart. I am looking forward to having more time to work on my novels once my schoolwork is done.
As part of my new BFA in Creative Writing studies, I wrote a monologue featuring the character Grace from The Pecan Man. If you have NOT read The Pecan Man, this is a ******SPOILER ALERT******. I am thinking of writing a sequel from Grace’s point of view. As most of you know, Gracie was pretty much thrown away in all the effort to keep secrets. She has come back for Eddie’s funeral and is determined to reclaim her life. I have to warn you, the scene is tough to read. Gracie has been on the streets and dealing with drug addiction for many years. She has a story to tell and it ain’t pretty.
What a whirlwind of a month April was for me! For years, #1 on my bucket list has been a BFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College. My journey began on April 7th. I hate flying (though I’ll do it if I must), so I drove from Florida to Vermont in two days. Now the other reason I drove was because I needed to be in Tennessee shortly after my residency ended, to host my daughter’s Senior Recital. As a Music major with a focus on Vocal Performance, this was the culmination of four years of incredibly hard work for Emmy. It is not something you miss. Each recital is devoted to one student, whose parents typically host a reception afterwards. The plan was for my husband to be on vacation at home for one week so he could do some projects he wanted to do AND to keep our little dog Sugar while I was away. We boarded her the first week of my residency and we both worried ourselves sick about her. (She did fine and they loved her!) Anyway, at the end of my residency, I would drive to Tennessee, where Perry would meet me with three boxes of stuff I had packed for the reception on April 22nd. THEN, we would take a few days OFF by ourselves in the mountains. Simple, right? Right. And then THIS happened. That, dear friends, is NOT the Suwannee River, upon which I LIVE. That is the ROAD to my house on the river. Rain in the Okefenokee Swamp feeds the tributaries that connect with the Suwannee and the river rises and falls accordingly. Lots of rain meant lots of rise, sometimes over a foot a day. The weird thing about our neighborhood is that the road floods before the yards, so when the water is rising and you don’t know when it will crest, you have to make the decision to get all of your “ground stuff” out of harm’s way while you still have a road. So, predictions were pointing to a moderate flood with more storms coming. Perry spent the first week of his “vacation” moving lawn tractors, vehicles and other equipment from beneath our house and from outbuildings at ground level (our home is on stilts because we’re in a flood zone) to storage units in town. By the time he left for Tennessee, stressed and exhausted, the water was just starting to creep over the road.
The recital was beautiful – my daughter is amazing and I will include a link on a subsequent post to prove it! The reception went well, though I must say I really needed more help. I didn’t get any pictures of all the hard work I put into table settings and food! Too busy making it happen.
The day after the recital, we made the decision to go on back home. The water was getting deep on the road and I would need to get the camper situated somewhere that I could work because this ain’t my first rodeo. I am NOT boating in and out of our neighborhood ever again. Some neighbors stay, but with my sensitivity to flood mosquitos (they are a breed of their own), it is just not healthy for me. And at this very minute, I have a swollen eye to prove it, but that’s a story for another day. So, this picture is the road the day after we went home. There were a few things, including his 1950 Ford 8N tractor, that he had not gotten out and that I would need to work. I shot this picture over my shoulder as I stood on our flatbed trailer pulled behind aforementioned tractor. I was steadying (or maybe it was steadying ME) a small refrigerator. It was touch and go getting out. The exhaust of the tractor was inches from the water. Had we hit a hole, we’d have been stuck.
Okay, so wait…I titled this The Goddard Experience and haven’t even mentioned that. It was incredible and exhausting and I am in the throes of the resulting work plan now. I’m excited about the program and will surely write more about it later, but right now I need to get back to work. If you want to know more about this college and how it works, check out http://www.goddard.edu.
So, I abbreviated this reader’s name because I didn’t know how to get her permission because I don’t know her, but this is an astounding review and I just had to share it!! Thank you, Alyssa! I am blown away!
Selleck doesn’t just write her characters. She doesn’t just scribble these people down on a crumpled cocktail napkin at the local bar. She builds them with the precision of an architect: imagine blueprints sprawled like king size comforters, crosscurrents of veins running like electrical wires. Every bone is accounted for. Every shimmering cell. They walk right off the paper, their faces a landscape of emotion, their souls sparkling like tinsel. The Pecan Man is reminiscent of Billy Bob Thorton’s character in Slingblade — he is a hapless, reclusive individual with very distinct mannerisms and features. He lives in the woods in a small southern town, emerging once in a while in his sweat soaked clothes, his gaunt legs peddling his rusty bicycle. Ms. Ora Lee Beckworth (the enchanting narrator of this tale) will hire him to mow her lawn and because this book is set in the 1970’s during the civil rights movement the continual presence of this old black man will cause quite a stir. The bigoted neighbors will be terrified and the children will be terrified and you’ll be right there on the porch, looking through Ms. Beckworth’s windows. Looking at a scared little girl with blood coiling her legs and the icy white blonde kid with fistfuls of candy. Fistfuls of candy smattering against Ora Lee’s window like hail.