Friday, December 04, 2009

Making Connections: A Guest Post by Jennie Shortridge

This guest post was actually supposed to go up yesterday but my internet service was having issues, and it kept me from making sure everything was in order and running smoothly. Imagine how aggravating that was, having no internet access on my furlough day. Things seem to be straightened out now (fingers crossed!).

I let out a little chirp of glee when I was offered the chance to read Jennie Shortridge's latest novel, and I am excited to have her as a guest today. I posted my review of When She Flew yesterday. Be sure and take a look if you haven't already.

Please join me in welcoming Jennie Shortridge to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!



The title of my new novel, When She Flew, was inspired by a Brian Andreas quote: “For a long time, she flew only when she thought no one else was watching.” In addition to describing the trajectory of each of the main characters, it’s a nod at the rather large bird population in the book, including an owl, a great blue heron, and peacocks.

An astute reader said, “I like that the birds in When She Flew represent all of the young girl’s transitions in the story.” I had to stop and think for a moment, and realized that the reader was absolutely right. While I did not consciously place birds at each point of change for Lindy (a 13-year-old being raised in the woods by her Iraq vet father), I knew that birds were her guides, her metaphor, her talisman. Alone in the woods with her father for the past five years, she’s had to rely on the resources at hand, on nature, on what she can figure out for herself.

This story was inspired by true events that took place in Portland, OR in 2004. Police went deep into untracked forest, having received information that a young girl might be in peril. I lived in Portland at the time and was fascinated, not just by the father and daughter, but by the police officer who risked everything to do what he thought was best for them. Although I interviewed the officer at length, the girl and father were long gone, but it was better that way. I wanted to imagine my own characters, and somehow, when I thought of Lindy, I thought of birds.

So, this is what I love about good readers, about book bloggers and book groups and book sellers. You read with your minds and hearts open to possibility, often seeing things that we, the authors, might not have consciously intended, but subconsciously tapped into. Any self-respecting author will say, “Yes, of course I meant to do that!” and clearly, I did send birds to help Lindy on each step of her journey from the forest to civilization. But readers so often have a nice way of telling you what you’ve accomplished; it’s lovely to have someone point at it so eloquently for us!

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When She Flew is Jennie Shortridge’s fourth novel. She lives in Seattle, WA, and is working on a new book that is also inspired by true events. You can visit the author's website to learn more about her and her books about her books.

15 comments:

  1. What a wonderful guest post. It's always nice to know when an author appreciates her readers.

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  2. Oh great guest post! I especially like that she was inspired by a true story.

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  3. This was a very nice guest post. I liked that she appreciates her readers. It's a nice change to see some class! Her book sounds interesting and I want to read it...

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  4. Wonderful post - I love reading about an author's thoughts as they were writing. And I loved the birds along the way - intentional, or not!

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  5. Very interesting post! I came here from another blog in which the author did not care for this book so, it was good to read the opposite view and the story behind it.

    I'm definitely going to be looking for this one.

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  6. What a lovely post, esp. following your review it was great to read about her process and her thoughts. Thank yoU!

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  7. What a great post, Wendy! Thanks for hosting the author. I'd like to say HI to Jennie! :D

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  8. Great post. I am now very intrigued by this book. :)

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  9. that's a terrific guest post; i like her comments about good readers with their hearts and minds open to possibility. a lovely statement!

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  10. Great post. In one of my creative writing classes, the students argued over aspects of my story and even the ending, forcing me to see things I didn't even know were there. It's nice that you can still have that level of discovery at such an accomplished level :)

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  11. Thank you all for stopping by and commenting!

    I loved the bird references in When She Flew--it also added more meaning to the title, which I think is very apt for the book.

    I love that today it's possible to have that author/reader relationship that makes it possible to have an open dialogue about books.

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  12. great guest post! I especially like that she was inspired by a true story.

    Work from home India

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  13. The birds sound like a really interesting part of the story. And I love when animals have a positive impact on characters in the books I read. I am intrigued even more by the fact that Ms. Shortridge was able to interview the officer involved with the real dad and daughter. This officer sounds like a caring and inspirational person. It's very nice of Ms. Shortridge to compliment book bloggers and readers and indicate her appreciation for us. I think, sometimes it is eay to overlook the target audience. Thank you Ms. Shortridge for a wonderful post and Wendy for your review and this guest post :o)

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  14. I'm so glad I could host her again, Amy! I really enjoy her books. :-)

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