Message From The Author
Sharon Sala Turns the Wild West Upside Down With an Unconventional New Book
By Lauren Spielberg
Sharon Sala wants to set the record straight. Yes, she is working with a Colorado-based small press called Loveland Press, and she is anxiously awaiting the release of her first historical novel, WHIPPOORWILL. Yes, it's set in the Old West, but is curiously not what she'd call a Western. And though her follow-up novel with Loveland Press does have the tentative title of THE HEN HOUSE, the story, she assures us, has nothing to do with chickens.
"It's bawdy and humorous, and not a romance," the author says of WHIPPOORWILL. "But it has some of the most endearing characters I have ever written, great poignancy and is over-the-top wacky with nonstop action!"
The New York Times bestselling author sought out a small press publisher because "more mainstream houses would never publish something so different, and if they did they wouldn't know how to market it," Sala says.
Enter Loveland Press, which immediately fell in love with the slapstick Western and jumped at the opportunity to publish a book by this reader favorite. "It's an honor and a privilege for us to be publishing a book by such an esteemed author," says publisher Craig Nelsen. "When Sharon came to us we knew we wanted her book sight unseen. The fact that it turned out to be a very special book was a huge bonus and a wonderful surprise."
So what makes WHIPPOORWILL so different? For starters, this work of fiction is not divided into chapters. Instead, the story is told in several vignettes with a cast of separate colorful characters in each! By the end of the book, everyone will converge in Lizard Flats (a fictional town in the wild west); each with his or her own reasons for seeking out a "real preacher."
The story takes off with the town's highly respected banker set to wed a very wealthy widow. They send for a "real preacher" from the East to preside over the ceremony. "You see, Lizard Flats has never had a 'real preacher' in their neck of the woods," muses the author.
Leticia (Letty) Murphy, the town prostitute, and Eulis, the local drunk, two friends shunned by the more "decent" townsfolk are the threads that connect ALL of the other vignettes. The preacher's imminent arrival signals big changes in the territory. Letty begins to believe that change could be possible for her. She drags Eulis into it by happenstance. And when word gets out to the surrounding settlers, prospectors and backwoodsmen, that a "real preacher" is on his way to Lizard Flats, the wacky escapades begin.
Take for instance the two trapper mountain men, one of whom waxes over how when he dies he wants a "real preacher" to say some words over him. When the poor old guy gets killed by a bear, his lifelong friend sets out to fulfill his wish by wrapping up his dead friend's body and heading for Lizard Flats to wait for the preacher.
Then there's the couple who lost all but one of the eight children born to them. They refuse to name the last child so as not to jinx his survival. The kid, who goes simply by "Baby Boy," faces ridicule from his peers as he gets older. His parents know that if a "real preacher" baptizes their Baby Boy and gives him a proper name, the curse will end. So they take off to Lizard Flats.
Another vignette tells the story of a prospector (think Gabby Hayes) who has all of four teeth left. He's crazy in love with the local saloon girl, but she wants nothing to do with himuntil
he strikes it rich. With her sudden change of heart comes another change: She finds herself craving redemption and wants to be wed by onlyyou guessed it!"a real preacher."
"I feel fortunate that Loveland Press was willing to give me the opportunity to share this part of my writing with my readers, and yes, I plan to do other stories with Loveland Press," Sala says. "I hope that my readers will be open-minded about this story, and I want them to know I'm not abandoning romance. I'm only widening my horizons. If wacky humor is their cup of tea, I know they will love this book. After all the editing and rewriting that I've done to WHIPPOORWILL, it still makes me laugh."
"Many authors have a story they want to tell or an unusual idea they want to execute but don't because they are either too busy meeting deadlines for books already under contract, or they fear their
publisher and their readers won't be interested. That's unfortunate," says Carol Stacy, publisher of RT BOOKclub, "because there are many wonderful books that will never be written and that readers will never get to read. Thank goodness for brave authors like Sharon who are willing to take the chance."
The future looks fruitful for Sala, who also writes under the pen name Dinah McCall. Not only does she plan on continuing her relationship with Loveland Press, she also has several romances coming out in 2003 with Silhouette Desire and Mira Books.
And judging by the early buzz for WHIPPOORWILL, it's highly unlikely Sharon Sala's latest will lay an eggchicken or otherwise.
Authors who are interested in publishing their unconventional books with Loveland Press should contact Craig Nelsen at email@example.com.
WHIPPOORWILL (Mar. '03, Loveland Press)
AMBER BY NIGHT (Mar.' 03, Silhouette Desire)
THE PERFECT LIE, as Dinah McCall (May '03, Mira)
ON THE EDGE Anthology (Jul. '03, Mira)
OUT OF THE DARK (Fall '03, Mira)
SECOND CHANCES & DEEP IN THE HEART (Jan. '03, Avon, Reissues)
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