Author Interview: Dana Glossbrenner, author of THE LARK

THE LARK
by
Dana Glossbrenner
Genre: Humorous Literary Fiction
Publisher: Boldface Books
Date of Publication: June 7, 2016
Number of Pages: 270
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You’re never too old to learn—or too young
Good-looking, good-hearted Charley Bristow’s the most sought-after hair stylist in five West Texas counties. He’s an expert on the dance floor and sharp at the pool tables, too—but when it comes to pick­ing cars, dogs, and women, luck hasn’t quite gone his way lately. And there’s the ever-present worry over his mother, whose own trailer-park plight he’d just as soon steer clear of. 
Just when he’s sworn off temptation of the female sort, an evening at the local honky-tonk drives two prime targets right into his path. Weighing the sudden wealth of options in his love life, while also searching for the right choice of wheels to suit his needs, Charley stumbles upon a long-hidden secret and an unforeseen road to re­demption. 
The colorful denizens of the Wild Hare Salon, Jarod’s Automotive, and Hopper’s nightclub, along with those of the Briargrove First Methodist Church and the Sulfur Gap Centennial Celebration, will two-step their way right into your heart, to music as familiar as Willie Nelson and Charley Pride. And you just might start to fall in love with an old Johnny Mercer tune, too, as Charley Bristow faces his past and embraces the challenge of his future.
Praise for The Lark
“Good-time Charley” Bristow is a popular twenty-something West Texas hairstylist who’s already dodged two bullets with two failed marriages (the second time, literally). . . . The Lark invites us to join Charley’s friends, the rural cosmopolitans of Sulfur Gap, and ride shotgun alongside this rogue with an honest heart . . . on a journey into his past.  Dana Glossbrenner has crafted a totally engaging quest for happiness, set it in a totally genuine contemporary Texas, and delivered up great characters for a great read. Cliff Hudder, author of Splinterville and Pretty Enough for You
Charley Bristow takes some things seriously–work, dancing, pool-playing, and women, but maybe not in that order. He finds the true importance of friends and family. — Rick Smith, San Angelo Standard Times
AuthorInterview

How has being a Texan influenced your writing?

It’s hard to say. It’s like being asked, “How does it feel, being a twin?” I wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. I’ve never not been a Texan. But I’ll try. Texas has its own distinct culture, and it comes out in my writing, through the ways that people talk and their qualities of independence and resilience. I find myself describing the sky often, and that’s from living in a place where the sky is big. West Texas is a land of far-off horizons—those appear in my settings. They’re a cliché, but I don’t care. It’s what I see all around me every day. Although I avoid stereotypes, I do have first-hand knowledge of ranchers, oil field workers, and cotton farmers, and they populate my writing.

Where did your love of storytelling and bookish things come from?

My mother was a great storyteller and she read to me a lot. She was offhand about telling her stories, not trying too hard to make an impression, but she had a way of telling me about things she remembered from her long life—the execution of the Rosenbergs, Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, rationing coupons in World War II, and arguments she had with her sisters. She unwittingly made me appreciate narrative.

How long have you been writing?

Always.  I wrote awful poetry as a teenager and young adult and sometimes kept a diary. I eventually began trying my hand at memoir about important things—flying with my pilot father, remembering my grandmother. I fell in love with the idea of the short story while I was teaching English to high school students and discovered Edgar Allen Poe’s “rule” that the short story aims at a single effect. So I began trying it, very haltingly. I gained confidence and started churning out short stories in my 40s and 50s. Finally, I realized that a novel was coming out of some of the characters in my short stories, and I finished my first novel, The Lark, at 63. I always enjoyed writing research papers, from elementary school through graduate work. I still enjoy researching and writing about local history.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I write both fiction and nonfiction. I’m over half through with a novel that follows up with some of the characters in The Lark, and I have a local history project simmering on the back burner.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I liked the way the characters took on their own life, especially Charley. After a few chapters, Charley became very real to me, as did Lou, Darla, and April. Wayne came out of a short story, so he was there already. People ask me where these characters came from, and other than some of the minor characters, I’ve never known them before—they came out, landed on the page, and told their stories.

Who are some of your favorite authors you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

Larry McMurtry’s portrayal of modern Texans in some of his works inspired me, although I don’t imitate him. I think McMurtry showed me that a writer can let Texans be Texans and you can turn it loose from there. Elmer Kelton made a huge impression on me with The Time It Never Rained. I was born in 1951 and grew up during the times of the black sandstorms. I didn’t know it until I read Kelton’s work, but those early experiences jaded my view of nature. I wasn’t in the habit of looking for flowers along the road because there were sand dunes on the road around Monahans, where my father worked as a petroleum engineer in the early ’50s. Once Kelton brought out my memories of the drought of the 1950’s, I started noticing more of the beauty around me, and I woke up to those clichéd sunsets, mesas, and sunflower fields. Who wouldn’t want to write about that?

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

Most useful—reading. I couldn’t be a writer with being a reader first, and I’ve always been a reader. With all the exposure to books, I became a good judge of what made a piece of literature earn the title “good literature.” I read classics, murder mysteries, thrillers, biography, memoir, a little science fiction, and not much romance. I like fiction that doesn’t fit neatly into a genre. It allows for more surprise, and I intentionally avoided letting The Lark fit into a specific area of fiction. Also useful was sharing my work with people who appreciated what I was trying to do. I remember the first time—maybe 15 years ago—I read a short story aloud at a conference in honor of Elmer Kelton, and I could see people’s faces enjoying my story. That was huge.

Least useful was showing my writing to people who I knew would be critical, but I did it anyway, trying to win them over. I’ve learned that some people can’t be won over, that not everyone will like what I write, and I don’t need to pursue them.

Dana Glossbrenner’s debut novel, The Lark, features Charley Bristow, a successful young hair stylist in a small West Texas town. His misadventures provide humor, intrigue, and catharsis, as he discovers a lost family history. Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers, a historical work, recounts the lives of women who helped settle the area around San Angelo, Texas.

Glossbrenner taught high school and university English classes and worked as a guidance counselor. She grew up in Snyder, Texas, earned degrees from Texas Tech, Angelo State University, and Texas State University. She now lives in San Angelo, Texas.

She cites Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy, and Elmer Kelton as major inspirations for writing about Texas.

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

7/25    StoreyBook Reviews– Review

7/26    The Librarian Talks – Author Interview #1

7/27    Texas Book Lover – Excerpt #1

7/28    Reading By Moonlight — Review

7/29    It’s a Jenn World – Author Interview #2

7/30    Country Girl Bookaholic – Review

7/31    The Crazy Booksellers — Promo

8/1       Missus Gonzo – Guest Post

8/2       Byers Editing Reviews & Blog – Excerpt #2

8/3       Kara The Redhead — Review

8/4       The Page Unbound – Author Interview #3

8/5       Margie’s Must Reads — Review

8/6       Books and Broomsticks — Promo

8/7       Forgotten Winds – Excerpt #3

8/8       My Book Fix Blog – Review

 

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