Friday, September 11, 2009

The Route by Gale Sears

Okay, so do you pronounce it route like "rowt" or route like "root"? Of course, people pronounce root two different ways, so that doesn't help. Anyway, for the purposes of this blog and so we're all on the same page, lets just say we're pronouncing it "rowt." Okay, I feel better knowing that is out of the way...

Gale Sears' The Route (remember "rowt") tells the story of a 50-ish (gotta love the -ish) woman who delivers meals to the elderly as a volunteer. Along the way, or rather, along the route, she learns about aging and death, but mostly about how to live. The story is told in first person, which is unusual, and admittedly a bit awkward (for me) at first, but then it totally works. You are right there in the front seat with Carol, the main character, carrying the basket of food, knocking doors, learning when to set it on the table or in the fridge, chatting about ex-husbands, and bracing yourself for ornery Viola's rebuke at the end of the line.

Reading this book was a total flashback for me because I volunteered for a semester with Meals on Wheels years ago when I attended Weber State. It was for college credit and they never let me actually drive or go on my own, but I think some of the people Carol met were the same ones I delivered to! :D Plus I had a visiting teaching route for a while in a nursing home. Now those were some wild times! I could write a book about it...

Anyway, the book was a fun ride. (And don't say you didn't know I was going to use that pun.) It made me ponder the age-old (and that pun, too) questions of why some suffer so much more than others and what can we learn from the elderly in our own lives. How will we treat aging parents when they can no longer adequately care for themselves? Carol changes and grows through her experiences and so do we alongside her.

Author Gale was kind enough to answer my intriguing interview questions: (I feel I can call her Author Gale because as you'll read later, I did meet her once in an elevator.)

>This book seems a departure from what you usually write, what got you excited about this particular work?

>>This book was actually written prior to my trilogy, but it was set on the shelf for a couple of years while I worked on other projects. I loved writing this book because I loved the people I served for two years on my meals-on-wheels route.

>Did the book “write itself” because of your personal experience and knowing the real characters the characters were based on?

>>The story did flow for me because I had so much inspiration from the wonderful seniors on my route. There were some real characters in the mix, as well as brave souls and sweethearts. How could you not love a cranky little 85-year-old who dressed in bright pink keds, fishing hats, and flowered dusters, belted by a man's tie? [Note from Blogger Me: You're right, Gale. By the end of the book I did love her.]

>A blurb on the back of your book by Kerry Blair says, “This is a book to read in one sitting...” How does that make you feel knowing a reader might very well read it in one sitting and you labored over it long did you labor, by the way?

>>It took me about 7 months to get the book to a place I liked, and I don't mind at all when people say they read it in one sitting. It's actually a compliment. For me it means that the story was engaging enough to keep their interest.

>Give me one sentence from your book, no context.

>>"Over several months, Ladora has added a ceramic burro, an ugly Norwegian troll, and two more Chia pets to her collection." [Blogger Me: Dibs on the ugly Norwegian troll.]

Gale Sears is already an accomplished author with The Autumn Sky trilogy: Autumn Sky, Until the Dawn, and Upon the Mountains. Christmas for a Dollar, a children's picture book, with illustrations by Ben Sowards, will be released in October. Two books in the same year. Sweet! Now back to the questions...

>What’s your current writing project?

>>Currently I'm working on getting my finished novel published. It is historical fiction and take place in 1917 Russia during the Bolshivek Revolution.I'm also working on another Christmas story for publication in 2010.

>Do you remember me running into you in the elevator at the Marriot last April? I’m kidding—you an author of tons of books, me the author of none. What are the chances you would remember me? But what might someone say to you in an elevator that would be memorable?

>>You're so funny. You have to remember that I'm getting old and I barely remember the Marriot. What were we there for, anyway? [Blogger Me: If my memory serves it was the Storymakers conference. I didn't actually introduce myself, but tried to turn just right so you'd be able to read my name tag. I'm kidding, but I did say something inane...can't remember it either.]

Hmm...something memorable? How about, "Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Sally Fields?" I'd really laugh at that one.

You're kind to compliment me on having written a few books, but it truly doesn't elevate me above anyone. We're all writers together. Each of us has a story to tell: in letters, journals, personal history, magazine articles, short stories, first chapters, novels, poems...the list could go on and on. Working on our craft is the important thing. [Blogger Me: That's what I tell my kids... "Working on the craft, okay? Give me a minute." Maybe I'll put that on a sign on my office door.]

Anyway, thank you Gale Sears for the interview! And for the rest of you, here's how you can get your hands on this book:


Cindy Beck, author said...

Sounds like a good book, and I enjoyed the author interview. Thanks for posting it.

Oh, and I clicked to become a follower of your blog. If you'd like to follow mine (no pressure, but just if you're interested) you can find me at

Valerie Ipson said...

Of course! I'm great at following!

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

A nice review/interview, Valerie. It's a lot of fun getting to know the author.

Joyce DiPastena said...

I vote for "rowt".

Great review and interview, Valerie!

Anna Arnett said...

Enjoyed this. Just one question. Is your "row" in "route" pronounced row, as in row your boat, or is it row as in "we had a terrible row last night over finances"? (sorry, I just couldn't resist) It's almost impossible to show a lot of English pronunciations without diacritical marks, isn't it? But I love it.

I'm also interested in reading The Route. I volunteered at an assisted living place nearby to sing or chat once a week with whoever wanted to join. We billed it, "Visiting with Anna." I kept it up for some five years, and really enjoyed it. I like old folks. Since many of those I visited with were younger than I, that's no surprise.

Love your blogs, Valerie, and am always amazed at how much you do.

Valerie Ipson said...

You could probably write a similar book to "The Route" based on your 5year experience with the elderly, Anna!


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