Today, I would like to welcome author, Nancy Christie , to my blog. I have already read two of her wonderful short stories, “Annabelle” and “Alice in Wonderful” , so was delighted to hear that Pixel Hall Press has published a collection of her work. This new book is called “Traveling Left of Center.”
There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results.
TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”).
The eighteen stories in TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings—like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.
In these stories, the characters’ choices—or non-choices—are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?
ALICE IN WONDERLAND—Alice is constrained by circumstances and unwanted obligations to live an unfulfilling life. Books are her only way to escape, serving as sustenance to feed her starving soul. But what will she do when there are no more pages left to devour?
ANNABELLE—A lonely young woman, all Annabelle wants is to love and be loved. But she’s fighting by the twin emotions of fear and guilt, unable to let go of the past and embrace the possibilities of a future.
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN—Sometimes, what one fears most comes to pass because of those fears. If Charlotte hadn’t been so afraid, would the outcome have been the same?
BEAUTIFUL DREAMER—For Eleanor, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to tell the difference between being awake and dreaming, reality and fantasy. The boundaries were blurring. Would she be able to see clearly again?
EXIT ROW—He wanted an escape. After all these years, he was ready to go. But could he get away before it was too late?
MISCONNECTIONS—Anna’s recurrent dreams echo through her day, as she attempts to reconcile her inexplicable feelings of loss with what would appear to be a “perfect life.”
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND—Despite being more than three steps over the mental health line, he’s holding fast to his belief in his own sanity. Or is the rest of the world crazy?
SKATING ON THIN ICE—Is it possible to overcome childhood trauma? And, even if you do, are you ever really “cured” or simply skating on thin ice, waiting for it to crack? Sarah is trying to skate across the thin ice. Every day, she makes a new path on the surface of her life. So far, the ice has held.
STILL LIFE—Mirror images of her life: how she wants it to be and how it is. Which one would be her true reality—and does she even have a choice?
THE CLOCK—Everyone has a breaking point. For Harold, it came one fateful evening when the clock once again stopped ticking.
THE HEALER—Cassie didn’t ask for the gift. She didn’t want the gift. For all the good it had done other people, it was killing her. All she wanted was her own healing.
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS—Mona was relying on the kindness of strangers to rescue her. One stranger, in particular. However, thanks to the interference of others, her plans keep going awry. But she’s not giving up yet.
THE SHOP ON THE SQUARE—His attitude of superiority had gotten him quite far in life. Until a chance stop at a small Mexican town illustrated that he had much to learn.
THE STORYTELLER—Connie makes up her stories as much for the children’s sake as her own. But even her stories can’t stop the pain of reality from hurting her listeners—or herself.
THE SUGAR BOWL—Although Chloe’s life story changes with every listener, each time her tale has achieved its intended purpose. Until she chooses the wrong person to tell it to.
TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER—Her mama was forever telling her that, on the highway of life, she was always traveling left of center. She wasn’t a bad girl, mind you—just incapable of looking down the road and seeing where her actions are taking her.
WAITING FOR SARA—Her daughter Sara is gone, and while it was by her own choice, it was a decision ill-conceived and poorly executed. And so Sara’s mother waits, alone and fearful, hoping against hope that someday her daughter will return, safe and unharmed.
WATCHING FOR BILLY—Agnes was all alone until Billy came to stay. Would he bring new purpose to her life? Or take what little hope she had for companionship?
You can buy “Traveling Left of Center” at the following:
· Apple iBookstore
· Barnes & Noble
· Barnes & Noble
· and other independent retailers
Q&A with Nancy Christie
Q. About TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER AND OTHER STORIES, the characters in the stories all seem a little (in some case, a lot!) wounded or vulnerable. What draws you to write about these types of characters?
A. I’m not entirely sure. It’s not like I set out to write stories about odd, eccentric or unstable people. It’s just, for some reason, I am drawn to those types of people—perhaps it’s one of those “There, but for the grace of God” things.
My fiction—or at least, my short fiction—tends to be about people who are damaged in some way: by what they have done to themselves or by what was done to them, by what they have received, what they gave up, or what was taken from them. They are, for the most part, struggling to navigate through dangerous waters. Some survive and move forward toward land, some are just treading water, and some don’t even know that they have lost the battle and are, even now, drowning.
I feel sorry for those people, wish I could do something for them, and perhaps, in the writing of their stories, that is what I am doing. Because somewhere out there, there is a real person who is held in thrall by his or her obsessions, who is controlled by past or present circumstances, who wants to live a happy, normal, balanced life but finds that the tightrope of life vibrates too much and maintaining equilibrium is but a dream.
“Dream”—and there it is again. The idea of what we want and what we have. For some of us—perhaps for most of us—the former is the dream and the latter is the reality and never the twain shall meet.
Q. Where did the idea of the cover art for TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER come from?
A. From the very beginning—even before I knew it would be a book!—I had an image in mind for the book cover. The cover is a literal interpretation of each character’s metaphorical journey on the road of life. Some of them zig-zag across the center line only to pull back to the right side at the last moment, while others cross once and never make it back in time. And then, there are the few who are merrily driving right down the center, every now and then drifting first to the left and then to the right, blissfully unaware that they are courting disaster. When I shared the concept with my publisher, it took only a few tweaks before we had the “ah hah!” moment and said “This is it!” and after a few revisions, we successfully “birthed” this book cover!
Q. Can you share what inspired some of your stories?
A. “Misconnections” (originally published in Wanderings Magazine) was inspired by a dream I had of a toddler wandering through plane wreckage, holding a tooth in her hand. “Beautiful Dreamer” started when I woke up in the middle of the night, holding the telephone receiver in my hand and hearing the buzzing sound and wondering if someone had called and I talked to them in my sleep. And if I did—what did I say?
“The Healer” came after I had a series of reiki sessions and started wondering what it felt like to be the practitioner rather than the client. As for “Annabelle”—I started it so many years ago that I don’t know where it came from!
Some of my other stories that aren’t in the collection… “Aunt Aggie and the Makeup Lady,” published by The Chaffin Journal was inspired by a conversation I had with a vendor at a flea market. She said that, although being there wasn’t her favorite way of spending a Sunday afternoon, it was better than being stuck at home with her husband’s crazy Aunt Aggie. That’s all it took, and the story was born! And “Ice Cream Sunday” (published in Fiction365) came after witnessing a father and his adult disabled daughter at a local ice cream shop.
But for the most part, many of my stories are triggered by words—overheard or imagined— and I don’t know how the story will turn out or even what it’s about until it’s written.
Q. Why do you write fiction?
A. To understand what I see or feel or am going through. To serve as a conduit for imagined characters whose voices are as loud to me as those of real people. To play with “what if” without exposing myself to any real danger—physical, mental, emotional, psychic. To escape—but I’m not sure if it’s a case of “escaping to” or “escaping from”! To get it out to make more room for new “its”—while fearing all the time that there are no more “its” left to make room for!
Q. If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?
A. I often thought I would have liked to be an archeologist. In some way, the professions are similar. The archeologist carefully digs through stone and sand and dirt until he uncovers a world that has long been hidden, and, in some cases, the remains of people who lived so long ago.
I dig through thoughts and memories and emotions until I find the imagined world and imagined people.
Then we both do the same thing: we re-create that world. The only difference is the archeologist recreates what once was while I recreate what existed only in some space and time outside of this reality.
Nancy Christie’s author bio and links
Nancy Christie is a professional writer, whose credits include both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to her fiction collection, TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER, and two short story e-books, ANNABELLE and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (all published by Pixel Hall Press), her short stories can be found in literary publications such as EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and Xtreme.
Her inspirational book, THE GIFTS OF CHANGE, (Beyond Words/Atria) encourages readers to take a closer look at how they deal with the inevitability of change and ways in which they can use change to gain a new perspective, re-evaluate their goals and reconsider their options. Christie’s essays have also appeared in Woman’s Day, Stress-Free Living, Succeed, Experience Life, Tai Chi and Writer’s Digest. She is currently working on several other book projects, including a novel and a book for writers.
A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG), Christie teaches workshops at writing conferences and schools across the country and hosts the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, Ohio.
Visit her website at http://www.nancychristie.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or at her writing blogs: Finding Fran, The Writer’s Place and One on One.
Finding Fran http://www.nancychristie.com/findingfran
The Writer’s Place http://www.nancychristie.com/writersplace/
One on One http://www.nancychristie.com/oneonone/
Make a Change http://www.nancychristie.com/makeachange/
Social media links:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NChristie_OH @NChristie_OH
I would like to thank Nancy for visiting my blog and sharing many of her thoughts about her work. Next week, I shall be posting a review of “Traveling Left of Center”, so please don’t forget to visit Fantastic Books again!