Original Title: Dancing Naked in Dixie
Author: Lauren Clark
Publisher: Monterey Press
Published Date: May 21st 2012
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?
“But, I have plans. Every night next week. Tickets to the Met, a fundraiser, a gallery opening, and I have book club on Monday.” I don’t mention the Filene’s trip I’d planned. Or the romantic date I’ve been promising Andrew, my neglected boyfriend of four years.
David waves a hand to dismiss it all. “Marietta can handle the magazine-related responsibilities.” From the top drawer of his desk he produces an airline ticket and a manila folder with my name on it. He sets them on the edge of his desk. Something I can’t decipher plays on his lips.
I keep my voice even. “What about Bali?” I had planned to leave for the South Pacific a week from Friday. “It’s on my calendar. It’s been on there…”
David shakes his head. “Not anymore.”
The words wound me like a thousand bee stings.
“Alabama,” David repeats.
My face grows hot. He’s plucked me off a plum assignment without a thought to my ability and my schedule. My new boss is sending me to God knows where and he looks perfectly content.
“If that’s my next assignment,” I sputter, “I’d rather…I’d rather dance naked!”
The announcement comes out much louder than I intend and reverberates through the room. Dolores probably has her ear pressed to the door, but the phrase bounces off my boss like a cotton ball.
David smothers a chuckle. “Suit yourself.”
INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN CLARK
1. Is there an inspiration behind why you chose writing?
I’ve loved books my entire life. I spent my childhood in the library because my parents didn’t allow me to watch television all summer (every summer). At the time, of course, I thought that my mom and dad were horribly mean, but it was the best gift they could have given me!
2. When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
Oh, I told my parents that I wanted to be an Indian Princess and that my name was going to be Tiger Lily. That didn’t happen, so I tease my two boys that I have a secret identity—Super Mommy to the Rescue—pink boots, pink cape, you get the idea. They haven’t bought that, either.
3. Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is....
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Steig Larsson was brilliant and I keep hoping his girlfriend will find a secret manuscript and publish it.
4. What are your current literary works? Any sneak peeks?
Stay Tuned was my first novel, and that story came from my years of working in the television news industry. I tried to give readers an inside look behind the scenes. It’s a crazy-fun business. Dancing Naked in Dixie follows travel writer Julia Sullivan from New York City to the Deep South. Julia’s not at all happy about the assignment—but falls in love with the community and a special someone—then discovers everything might be ruined when a developer wants to bulldoze part of the city’s historic district.
Right now, I’m researching for a new novel called The Pie Lab, after the real place in Greensboro, Alabama. I’d like to explore what it’s like to come home to a small town after burning bridges and swearing you’d never be back!
5. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future.
I’d go back to the past—maybe the 1950s. I’m a bit of an idealist, and the world seemed a little less crazy back then. (My parents may disagree)
6. If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?
Athena—she’s the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice. Hard to argue with all of those traits! The city of Athens was also named after Athena.
7. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Julia Sullivan finds happiness, love, and answers in the place she least expects it.
8. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It’s been most rewarding to hear from readers that liked (or loved) Stay Tuned! I answer every single note or email that I receive!
9. What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
I’ll have to give Stephen King credit for this advice, but it’s true: Read a lot, Write a lot.
10. If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?
Narnia or Twilight.
11. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
(Laughing) Probably something like “Are you there Chocolate? It’s me, Lauren.”
12. What is your favorite scene in your book and why do you love it?
Gosh, there are a lot of scenes that I love—among them—Julia arguing her way into a taxi cab by telling two rich women that she has “Athazagoritis,” which is a disease she completely made up. These “white lies” tend to follow her the rest of the book. There’s also the scene in which Julia’s lost her luggage and has to be taken shopping by Roger, the owner of the local B&B. They end up in a pageant dress shop—think lots of sequins!
Below is a photo of Shorter Mansion in Eufaula … it’s really, really lovely there!
13. What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you'd be embarrassed to admit?
The entire last season of The Bachelor. I had to see if Ben picked Courtney. Not smart, Ben!
14. What is one book everyone should read?
I loved My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It’s a great story about the flaws in families and how far we should or can go as parents to save our children.
15. One food you would never eat?
Anything having to do with bugs, snails, insects, or that is slimy. Ugh! Just thinking about it gives me the shivers!
Penn Yan, New York
Best Christmas present?
My husband got me an Easy Bake Oven after I complained about never receiving one as a child!
My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
Is ‘Mom’ a nickname?
Favorite writing spot?
The library at our local university… it’s so peaceful!
7-Layer Caramel Cake
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~ Elmore Leonard
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~ William Wordsworth
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Your best trait?
I finish what I start.
Your worst trait?
I run late for appointments because I’m always trying to get “just one more thing” done!
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
Lauren will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
SO, COMMENT WITH YOUR EMAIL ID AND SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
OPEN INTERNATIONALLY! ENDS JUNE 29TH 2012!