Welcome to my a blog! I’m excited to present Lauren Clark, author of Dancing Naked in Dixie.
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com and find even more information at:
What is Dancing Naked in Dixie about?
It’s really a story about a career girl finding happiness, love, and her place in the world where she least expects it.
Here’s the summary:
Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she’s offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.
Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia’s story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?
How did you come up with the title?
I actually came up with the title before I wrote the story … not something that I recommend, but it worked for Julia and her journey. I knew that I wanted to write about Eufaula and the Pilgrimage, and thought that it would be best seen through the eyes of someone who’d never visited the area.
It began as an idea that Julia would discover a delectable Southern treat that would be so delicious it would make everyone want to “dance naked” … and the proceeds would save the city from having to allow a developer to build condominiums, but the more that I explored that premise, it seemed better as a secondary plot line. So, I handed off the baking duties to PD, and allowed Julia to crank up the “hissy fit” factor when she’s told she’s NOT going to Bali … she’s going to small-town Alabama.
Who was your hardest character to write?
I think that Aubie was really difficult … she’s an emotionally-scarred woman who’s dealt with being “left behind” with no explanation by the love of her life. She’s become an alcoholic as a result of her heartbreak, but I didn’t want readers to feel sorry for her. Like Julia, Aubie is stronger than she believes she is — and has the opportunity to prove it at the end of the story.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I absolutely adore Sophie Kinsella. She makes me laugh out loud. I thought that her Poppy Montgomery character in “I’ve Got Your Number” was brilliantly-drawn and hilarious. I’m also equally awed and impressed by Jodi Picoult. She’s so smart and always does so much research to not only draw you into her story and characters, but teach readers something along the way. When “Lone Wolf” came out, I resisted reading the book for quite a few months. Wolves? Not my thing. I finally purchased it as an audio book and listened to it on a long car trip. Absolutely. Fascinating. And based on a real person.
What are your current projects?
I am researching for my next novel, The Pie Lab, which is a real restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends. The Pie Lab, as a business, is a great concept, as it offers on-the-job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.
What is the one most important advice you would offer all aspiring writers?
Write a lot, read a lot. It’s Stephen King’s advice in On Writing, but it rings true for everyone who wants to be an author. It is my personal belief that every writer can continue to grow and learn–no matter how successful he or she is. I take courses, work with editors, swap ideas with other authors, read outside my own genre, and listen to experts talk about the publishing industry.
I recently attended a conference in Monroeville, Alabama (To Kill A Mockingbird) and was able to hear Fannie Flagg speak about her fascinating writing career and journey from almost-penniless New York City aspiring actress to a New York Times bestselling author. She was polite, articulate, and quite humble about her experiences. As an added bonus …. Harper Lee was there to see her accept the award she was receiving for excellence in literature as an established Alabama author.
Excerpt from the Book
The Best Butts in Alabama, the huge billboard above my head brags. A robust pink pig, dressed in blue overalls and a cowboy hat, winks down at me. Next to the hog’s turned up nose, royal blue letters read ‘Phil’s Bar-B-Q.’
Phil certainly knows how to make a first impression. As does Mother Nature.
The sunshine beats down on my shoulder through the window. Is it always this muggy in December? I swipe at my forehead with the back of my hand and do quick surveillance.
Where is the historic, elegant city I was promised in the letter? There is a normal-looking church across the street, a run-of-the-mill real estate business to my right, and a tiny hole-in-the-wall place called The Donut King, which seems to be doing ten times more business than the Winn-Dixie grocery store I just passed.
So far, all I see of Eufaula, Alabama is more in-your-face commercial than traveler chic. Of course, I’m not in the best frame of mind to become one with my surroundings.
After a lousy Thursday morning of sulking and a rushed packing job, I sent an RSVP with regrets for the fundraiser, gave away my tickets to the Met, left a voice mail for Andrew, and changed my ticket to an earlier departure.
Hours later, after fighting through JFK security, surviving the cramped flight to Atlanta, I spent the night in Buckhead, Georgia, picked up my enormous rented SUV this morning (it was either that or a red minivan), and began driving the three-and-a-half hours to reach my pinhole-on-a-map destination.
All to save my job.
As you can see from the excerpt above, this book is fun and Miss Julia Sullivan (world traveler) is in for an eye-opening experience in Eufaula, Alabama. The death of her mother and her rocky relationship with her father (who is now her boss) has made her harried and unorganized. Will meeting Shug Jordan help her to focus on what is more important? This story also has a mystery that is well played out and a little surprising. And don’t forget the delicious recipe at the end for PD’s Pillow Pockets. Yum!
Lauren will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the link below for more chances to WIN!!