Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sophie Littlefield

Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri. Her first novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, was an Edgar Award Finalist and is shortlisted for an Anthony, Barry, and Macavity Award. It won an RT Book Award for Best First Mystery and has been named to lists of the year's best mystery debuts by the Chicago Sun-Times and South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Her new novel is A Bad Day for Pretty.

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Many authors choose not to read in their genre – or even to read fiction – when they are working on a new book. I’m pretty much always working on a new book, so that wouldn’t work for me. And I like to create atmosphere for myself by what I read, the music I listen to, even the way I relate to the world…perhaps I shouldn’t admit to this but I do little character immersion, like a method actor. It’s probably very confusing for the people who live with me, but hey, anything for the art, right?

Anyway, in that spirit I’m reading some favorite writers who write rural: Craig Johnson’s newest is Junkyard Dogs and it’s just a delight on every page; every character’s voice is pitch-perfect, none more than Walt, a Wyoming sheriff in a tiny town. I’ve also got Polar, T.R. Pearson’s 2002 release. I’ve never understood why Pearson hasn’t reached a wider audience. He’s hilarious and gentle and wry and there’s bits of Faulkner and Walker Percy rolled up in there. Open any page and you’ll find a sentence – or more likely a clause, since Pearson’s the king of the wandery run-on – that stays with you all day.

I’m dipping into Sallis’s Cripple Creek at the rate of about a page a day. It’s a treat, kind of like that really expensive chocolate you buy at Whole Foods and tell yourself you’ll just have one little square at a time. (I always end up eating the whole dang thing at once, but I truly can’t binge my way through the Sallis book because I’m just so fucking incredibly astonishingly busy right now. I might have been able to handle the deadlines and the promo, but throw in a couple of undpredictable teenagers finishing up the school year with a burst of glorious drama and I’m screwed.)

Finally, I’m also working my slow, slow way through Dead-Tossed Waves, Carrie Ryan’s followup to Forest of Hands and Teeth, last year’s wildly successfully zombie young adult debut. What I love about Carrie is that she has a natural gift for unspooling the story at precisely the right pace while making the setting details and character arcs look effortless.
Visit Sophie Littlefield's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Bad Day for Sorry.

--Marshal Zeringue