Friday, February 22, 2013

First Line Friday No. 26

When I get the urge to kick myself and "be more productive" (a useless cycle which involves guilt, petulantly tapping keys and not so much progress as drivel) in my writing, it helps me to know that not every author is an overnight sensation (no one ever is -- all the work that goes into an 'overnight sensation' is done months, even years ahead of time).

Sometimes I study my favorite authors and glean a little patience or peace from their process, and sometimes I just take heart that some of them are, like me, late bloomers or slow movers.

Franny Billingsley has written four books since she began in the 1980's.  She worked at a bookstore for years while she wrote, and her first book took her seven years.  It isn't a long book.

The thing about Franny, however, is that she is dedicated.  Determined.  And an excellent writer.  She has won at least one award for each of her three novels and a fellowship to continue writing.  (Her author page said she started writing seriously in 1983 but was learning how to write so didn't submit a lot of manuscripts until the 1990's.  Since then, she's published in 1997, 1999, 2008 & 2011)

Her pacing, tight writing and fluid style are superb.  Her characters are interesting, unique and somehow still heartbreakingly real.  She is one of the best writers I've come across, and each of her books is a gem.

So today I'd like to share a bit of my favorite book of hers.


February 2 -- Candlemas

It is a day of yellow fog, and the Folk are hungry.  They ate the lamb I brought them, picking the bones clean and leaving them outside the Folk Door.

The lamb was meant for Matron's Sunday supper.  She'll know I took it, but she will not dare say anything.  She can keep her tapestries and silks and Sunday dinners.  Here in the Cellar, I control the Folk.  Here, I'm queen of the world.

-- From The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley

Isn't that curious?  In just one tiny journal entry we peek into another, perhaps more dangerous and frightening world...

Some reasons to keep reading:

1. Who (or what) are the Folk?
2. What is the Folk Door?  Are they kept in...or out?
3.  Who is Matron?  What is she Matron of?
4.  Who is our narrator?
5.  How does she control the Folk?

What I love so much about this book is that Franny has woven old myths and half-forgotten legends into a historical fiction narrative concerning the Folk Keeper, a tiny human being with more power than seen at first glance.  It's also a bit of a thriller, a romance, and a new, quite original fairy tale.

Let me know if you read (or have read) it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Also, an interesting tidbit -- I have an advance reading copy of a middle grade novel that I will be reviewing after it comes out (on the 26th).  So the review will be a bit late but on a brand new book!  How thrilling!

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