E.J. Runyon, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Monthly Review

Special Interview with Author E.J. Runyon!

tumblr_nbzwmpaDri1tfrr3qo1_400Hello, Readers!

Today I have a special treat for everyone. In 2013, I received for review a book called Claiming One. It is a short story collection by then newly-published author, E.J. Runyon. I enjoyed that collection so much, in fact it was one of my favorite reads of the year.

Well, I’m thrilled to say that E.J. Runyon is back, this time with her first novel! The early reviews for A House of Light and Stone are outstanding. I was so excited about the prospect of a new book from E.J. Runyon that I reached out to the publisher to see if there was any way that I could be involved. To my delight, they (and E.J. herself) responded in the positive – so I am able to bring you today this special Q & A with Ms. Runyon!

I hope you enjoy the interview, and I hope you’ll enjoy the works of this talented author as much as I have!

===============================

Thanks for having me here, Adam. It’s lovely to have the support of someone I like following.

E.J., tell us about your new novel?

This one is a Literary Fiction effort; I hope it continues to go over well. It’s set in 1967, East L. A. and follows Duffy and her family. True lives, the hard truths, shown in a mixture of small, daily cheer and that one step forward, one step back dynamic. It’s about the strangeness of being genuine to ourselves. Both Duffy and her mother fall in love with females. For Duffy it’s a calm, new part of her growing-up. For her mother, Rennie, love takes a different shape. And though all this year, they both progress into a new understanding of self and place in the world they’re confronted with.

How does it feel to have a debut novel under your belt?

Oh, I think I’m dealing well with it. (chuckle) I spent a long time with the idea that the slow and patient application of ‘you’ve got to make this better’ may have given me something I can honesty say shines. A few places touched me deeply, and I wrote it. It’s gotten reviews that echo that, too. And that helps the strangeness of being a published author of something larger than short stories. You know I try for depth and poetry in what I write. So for my ‘first’ I think I earned the way I feel reading reviews. Strange, but still—joy.

Anything you’re very proud about with this work?

One reader’s said that they ‘… feel this book is a great example of literary fiction, using the term in the most flattering possible way’ That makes me proud, very proud. And one reviewer wrote up a very nice online review that just detailed exactly what I had tried for the book to be to readers. So seeing it all laid out in a considered and eloquent review was so proud-making, I was smiling for most of that week, walking around with that, “They like it!”, grin on your face.

Why’d you decide not to go genre, like so many writers these days?

I think there’s the need for this type of Literary Fiction works as well as genre works in today’s markets. I feel it’s a valid goal now, for authors to write as we see the world, and not only for what some powers that be tell us the market will sell. You can see that in the rise of the Indy publishing marvel. More writers are willing to write exactly what they feel is worthy of their talents. And for me that’s Literary Fiction.

What’s up next?

I want to continue being an author who ‘goes there’ in my work. An interview recently in The Rumpus, with Wendy C Ortiz, put it as, “discussing subjects we have long discarded as unspeakable.” That what’s next: more of the unspeakable that lies in the hearts and souls of all my other characters.

===============================

More About the Book:

Giving a voice to the silent. A House of Light and Stone is the first full-length novel from writer E. J. Runyon, which follows the daily struggles of an abused young girl as she takes her first tentative steps into growing up. Secrets and lies abound in the backstreets of late-sixties Los Angeles, and coming of age here is no mean feat. For Duffy, whose talent and creativity far exceed her years, growing up is about making immutable choices and learning one simple lesson: that understanding oneself is absolutely everything. In charting Duffy’s quest, Runyon illuminates the dark corners, shedding credible light on a subject that could easily slip into the realms of melodrama. The result is something believable and profound; a true testament to the strength of the human spirit.

No light read. Powerful, dark and uplifting… Three words that capture the essence of Runyon’s deeply moving

More About the Author:

downloadE.J. Runyon lives in the US Southwest. Since 2002 she’s found herself moving on to smaller and smaller desert towns, while working to become the author and writing coach she planned to be. First, she quit working in software and sold her home to finance her degree in Creative Writing and her Grad-work in Online Teaching and Learning. She’s never looked back since. Now, her life revolves around her own writing and Bridge to Story – an online creativity coaching business that she runs– and you know, being a better person day to day. E.J.’s passion is focused on writing fine prose and on getting folks writing, her aim is coaching them in writing well. She participates yearly in National Novel Writing Month – an event she’s been involved in since 2001. Her first collection of short stories, Claiming One was published by Inspired Quill in 2012, which was followed in 2013 by Tell Me How to Write a Story, a guide for writers new and old alike.

Website: www.bridgetostory.com

Blog: http://www.ej-runyon.com/

Twitter: @EJRunyon

===============================

Standard
Contemporary American, E.J. Runyon, Ethnic American, Gender Identity, Gender Studies, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Latin American, Lesbian Lit, LGBT, Monthly Review, Regionalism, Sexuality, Short Story

Review: Claiming One by E.J. Runyon

14576593Claiming One by R.J. Runyon
Final Verdict: 3.75 out of 4.0
YTD: 23

Full Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Inspired Quill, with whom I have a working relationship; however, I was not in any way involved in the editing, publishing, marketing, proofing, or submission review process for this book.  In fact, I only received a copy because the editor-in-chief mentioned that this writer comes recommended by Catherine Ryan Hyde, who is a favorite writer of mine, so she thought I might like to take a look.

The collection is made up of seventeen short stories of varying length, some of which deal with the same characters and all of which deal with the same general region (southwestern United States / southern California) and the same type of people (struggling poor/working-class ethnic and sexual minorities).  Most of the stories are incredibly interesting and well-written.  There were a few stories in the bunch which did sometimes feel stressed or project-like, reminding me a bit of a bad hair day (not that the stories were bad, but that one starts with a good head of hair and, no matter how you tease it, yank it, or play with it, it just will not do what you want it to do).  That being said, these few stressed stories were definitely the exception, not the rule.  In fact, I wrote a ranking next to each story in the index (Poor, Good, Very Good, Great) and of the seventeen stories, only two were anything other than Good.

What struck me first about the writing is the narrative voice.  It is distinct, commanding, and engaging.  The first story, “The Giant Rubber Gorilla,” opens the collection with a perfect sense of what is to come. The reader quickly recognizes these people who will be explored, the situations that might be examined, and the tone which can be expected throughout.  Similarly, the collection closes with “Dandruff as Tall as Donald Duck,” which, in conjunction with the lengthier story which immediately preceded it, was a great way of wrapping-up the collection, reminding the reader of its major themes and the general determination of these people to survive, despite the perpetual road blocks placed in their way.

Some of the stories went even beyond good story telling.  “Mother’s Tongue” and “Secrets of the Days and Nights,” for example, were stand-outs in their creative approach and in the slight inkling toward hopefulness they emulated, which is not an overarching theme in this collection.  The stories work together the way a great fashion show should:  The collection has a primary theme, it starts with bang, and then has its lulls and explosions throughout, and finally ends with a reminder of what the collection was all about, leaving the memory of it strong in the mind.  Each story, like each piece in a fashion collection, simultaneously stands on its own and fits into the larger theme of the work.  In this case, the theme is a restless disappointment among a class of people on the margins.  There is a small, flickering light of hope that blinks throughout, meek but ever-present.

My personal favorites were the stories about Duffy and her family.  They were the most powerful and seemed to work almost like the back-bone of the collection. It would be very interesting to see Duffy and the others in her life appearing again in future collections.

With this first collection, Runyon is following in the tradition of the great regional American writers.   Flannery O’Connor, John Fante, Bret Harte, and Sinclair Lewis all wrote stories about a particular group of people in a particular region of the United States, and their stories stayed true to the people and their particular plights and successes.  The triumph of their stories was due in part to the writers’ craftsmanship and vision, but also to the honesty of the narrative which grounded the fictive worlds deeply in reality.

If Runyon continues to write about this world and these people, we might be witnessing the start of a very special body of work.  E.J. Runyon is a new writer to watch, and I applaud Inspired Quill for recognizing this talent and taking a chance on sharing it with the world.

Standard