Friday, July 01, 2016

EDEN HILL - Bill Higgs - One Free Book

Welcome, Bill. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I suspect that some of me goes into all my characters, as would be true with most storytellers. I had originally intended to write Eden Hill from 10-year-old Vee Junior’s point of view; not coincidentally, I was also 10 years old at the time the story is set. More to the point, though, I wrote some of my characters as I would like to be. I definitely want to be Welby when I grow up.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Back in 1971 (yes, I’m old) I took a summer job at Mammoth Cave National Park. Even though I was a secretary/typist (!) I was able to take a few trips with some of the rangers and guides into areas of the cave closed to the public. One of these was into Crystal Cave, where Floyd Collins (Google him—fascinating!), its discoverer, was buried in a glass-covered casket. Seems the man in the coffin was a tourist attraction at one time before the National Park service purchased the cave. After agreeing among ourselves, we opened the lid. Considering he’d died in 1925, the man looked pretty good. He’s since been removed and reburied in the more usual way. Creepy.

That’s interesting to me. When I was in college, I worked a couple of summers at Longhorn Cavern here in Texas. I worked at the snack bar that is halfway through the open part of the cavern, so I missed the heat of the day. And we went spelunking with some of the guides. To get to the best part of the cavern, we had to crawl quite a ways totally surrounded by all the rock. That’s when I first discovered I didn’t like tight spaces. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’m not so sure that I’m a writer as much as I am a storyteller. At some point, though, stories find their way into to complete sentences, either on paper or in bits and bytes on a computer. I did not as a child sit in corners on rainy days, writing in notebooks or journals. But I was imaginative, and eventually the characters in my head began to interact with each other. I simply began to write things down.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Almost anything. I just finished The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, by Jonathan Gotschall, and Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs sits on my nightstand. My Kindle opens to the classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (yeah, I’m a geek, too). My “to be read” stack includes Anne Lamott and Wendell Berry.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I walk, walk, walk. Seriously. I can often be found trekking through nearby parks and woods when the weather is good, and sometimes even if it isn’t. Hiking relaxes me, and keeps me fit (yeah, right). Stories and ideas often come to me in the quiet of the forest. But then again, sometimes I just clear my mind and enjoy the birds, deer, and squirrels.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
In most cases, they are mash-ups of common names from the area of central Kentucky where I grew up, and where my stories are set. First name from one guy I knew, surname from another. There are a few exceptions: “Madeline Crutcher” seemed like an appropriate name for a troublemaker, and “Eugene Caudill” simply sounded like a preacher. “Mavine” was totally made up, but it seemed to fit.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Isn’t pride one of the seven deadly sins? That being said, my greatest accomplishment is to be the father of an amazing son and incredible daughter, who are out to bring beauty and goodness into the world. Actually, I had very little to do with it; it’s just a blessing. Still, I bust a button now and then thinking about them.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Probably a mule. I’m stubborn and obstinate, and take direction poorly. Ask my wife.

What is your favorite food?
Those who know me also know that I can find the best General Tso’s Chicken in any given town. Tied with that is a sausage and mushroom pizza with breadsticks from Joe Bologna’s in Lexington, Kentucky. Best in the world, period.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Writing takes time, and that has been in short supply. While I can think about story during a walk in the woods, I can’t put it into definite words (apologies to those who talk into to their iPhone). Eden Hill was an effort of over 25 years from start to finish, but my agent says I can’t wait that long to write another novel! I’m learning (slowly) to carve out time when needed.

Tell us about the featured book?
Content synopsis:
Nothing seems to change in Eden Hill, Kentucky, and that’s just fine with Virgil T. Osgood. He’s been content to raise his family and run the only service station in town. But when a new station is set to open right across the road from Virgil’s pumps, he suddenly faces obstacles in his career, his marriage, and his self-worth that he’s never even dreamed of.

Cornelius Alexander wants his new Zipco station to succeed and help establish a strong foundation for his growing family. As long as he follows the Zipco guide, he’s sure to be a success—and prove his father wrong.

Reverend Caudill wants to be a conduit for grace in his town, but that grace is challenged by the changes sweeping through in the early 1960s. For the sake of this small town, Virgil and Cornelius must learn to get along, but how do you love your neighbor when his very presence threatens to upend everything you hold dear?

Please give us the first page of the book.
Eden Hill, Kentucky, November 1962
Something was wrong. Definitely wrong. Even he knew it.

Virgil T. Osgood had just poured his coffee from the familiar speckled enamel percolator and said good morning to his wife, Mavine. Rather than a broad smile and her usual “Good morning, Virgil,” he got nothing. Instead, she sat quietly at their little Formica dinette wrapped in her blue chenille housecoat, her reading glasses perched on her nose, perusing a small magazine. Very odd. Mavine was usually hovering over the stove, banging pots and pans around, and was generally eager to engage in some lively conversation.

And even beyond Mavine’s silence, the kitchen was far too quiet. The radio on the counter was usually tuned in to WNTC for the 4​­H report, which came on just after “The Star​­Spangled Banner” and the early morning farm news. This morning, the old Philco sat dark and silent, sandwiched between the flour and the cornflakes.

The only sounds were the ticking of the red apple clock over the stove, along with an occasional noise from Vee Junior’s room upstairs.

I love it. Such memories. I was in my second year of college that year. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Bill, for sharing this new book with us.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Eden Hill  -
Eden Hill - Amazon
Eden Hill - Kindle

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Mary Preston said...

What a great cover. The synopsis says I'm going to enjoy this.

Mary P


Melanie Backus said...

Would love to read this one!

Melanie Backus, TX

Kim hansen said...

Sounds like a good read. north platte nebraska.

Edward Arrington said...

It's been a while since I entered a drawing here but this book caught my attention. I enjoyed the interview, particularly that Bill worked at Mammoth Cave in the summer 0f 1971. I was a college student in Wilmore, KY in the early 70s and my wife, daughter, and I visited Mammoth Cave in the summer of 71 or 72. We didn't get to see that glass enclosed casket but they found a rattlesnake at one of the entrances while we were there. Thank goodness, we didn't see that either.
Edward A in VA

J.C. said...

This sounds like a really good book. I know I'll enjoy it a lot!
J.C. -Indiana-

Pam K. said...

I really enjoy books set in small towns. I'd like to read Eden Hill. Thanks for introducing us to Bill Higgs.


Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!!
Conway SC.

rubynreba said...

Love that cover! It brings back a lot of great memories. I'd really enjoy this book!
Beth from IA

Brenda Arrington said...

Great cover. Reading first page made me want to read more.
Brenda in VA

Connie said...

is sounds very interesting since it is set in my home state!
Connie from KY

Anonymous said...

Dill is new to me. but his book sounds like one I would love to win. Thanks Lena, for the interview and introduction to a new author for me. Would love to win. Maxie from TX. > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

Carol said...

Just can't wait to visit Eden Hill and get to know all the residents! Thanks to Bill Higgs for writing!

from Kentucky