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Author Archive: "Joshilyn Jackson"

Powell’s Q&A: Joshilyn Jackson

Describe your latest book.
Someone Else's Love Story begins when a young woman who claims to have experienced a virgin birth and a geneticist who is a stone-cold atheist walk into a Circle K convenience store just as it is being robbed. Shandi and William would never meet, much less bond, under normal circumstances, but their lives entwine irrevocably when the crime goes south and they are taken hostage.

Shandi calls it destiny. William calls it coincidence, but a convenient one; he lost everything he cared about to "an act of physics" exactly one year ago. He's been looking for a bullet to walk into ever since. He has no idea he is winning Shandi's heart when he puts himself between the gun and her three-year-old boy, Natty. It's absolutely a love story, but it doesn't necessarily belong to Shandi and William.

At its heart, this is a book about miracles. The book is full of fake miracles — huge, splashy ones: the so-called virgin birth, more than one kind of resurrection.

Meanwhile, the real miracles are very tiny and very human. They are flawed. No one notices ...

INK Q&A: Joshilyn Jackson

Describe your latest project.

It's called The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and it's a book about a pair of haunted sisters. The Gray family has a secret — a very literal family skeleton.

The younger sister, Laurel Gray Hawthorne, hasn't seen a ghost in thirteen years. She's in a passionate and seemingly solid marriage, she's a good mother to her teenage daughter, and her relationship with art and darkness is contained in her quilting. Traditional quilting is steeped in this sort of folksy, price-above-rubies, salt-of-the-earth femaleness. You think quilts, you think the Amish or your nice Gramma's sewing circle. But Laurel doesn't make that kind of quilt. Her work is based on the mind-blowing stuff made by Canadian folk artist Pamela Allen, and I don't think even Laurel is aware of how little her work actually connects with the traditional female roles she otherwise embraces.

Her pristine life shatters when the ghost of a dead girl comes to her bedroom, wakes her up, and takes her down to where the girl's body is floating lifeless in the backyard pool. No one knows the events leading up to the girl's drowning, and that ghost opens a door that lets the Gray family ghost return. Laurel has to go to her estranged sister, Thalia, for help, but Lord, that's trouble.

Thalia Gray is an actress. Capital A. I loved writing Thalia so much — she's all appetite and she has no boundaries of any kind. She embarrassed the hell out of me and made me laugh until I almost wet my pants. Can you tell I love this character? Poor Laurel! Asking Thalia Gray for help is like leaping into a frying pan with only a thin layer of Crisco to protect you. The two of them set out on a life-altering journey that triggers revelations about their family's guarded past, the true state of Laurel's marriage, and what really happened to the girl who stopped swimming.

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