Today I would like to welcome you all on my stop of the Blog Tour for Horseshoes And Hand Grenades By S. M. Stevens and I would like to share a guest post written by the author, with all of you. Please do show some love to all the wonderful book bloggers on this blog tour by following and sharing their work. 🙂
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release date: 26 09 2019
Price*: Kindle £5.72 (GBP)/ Paperback £12.94 (GBP)
Kindle $7.45 (USD)/ Paperback $16.99 (USD)
Pages: ~ 290
You can get this book here:
Description of the book: Fragile but practical Shelby Stewart and ambitious, confident Astrid Ericcson just want to start their PR careers in 1980s Boston and maybe find a nice guy to hang out with. But long-buried memories of incest at the hands of her local hero stepfather keep interrupting Shelby’s plans, affecting her health one way after another. And when will she actually date someone her friends think is good enough for her?
Astrid thinks she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting but is forced to re-visit her career advancement strategy when her boss Brad takes the innuendos to a whole new, scary level, threatening her job and her safety.
Suddenly, instead of taking charge of their lives, both women find themselves spinning out of control.
In this fast-paced story for the #metoo generation, the women reach new highs and lows in life, work and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.
Guest post: The Birth of Shelby and Astrid: My Narrative Choices by S. M. Stevens
One of the first and most important tasks an author tackles upon sitting down to write a novel is identifying the narrator. Who gets the honor (or so we like to think) of telling the tale, entertaining the reader, and breathing life into your imaginary world?
To tell you how I chose my narrator for Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, I first have to let you in on a little secret. I actually wrote the first version of my Women’s Fiction novel years ago. That manuscript focused on Shelby, a woman dealing with recently recovered memories of childhood incest. It was my first attempt at fiction, and it was not that good!
Fast-forward to 2017, several books later, and the #MeToo movement roaring to the forefront of societal discourse. Picture me slapping my forehead thinking, “Wow, people are asking the same damn questions of workplace harassment victims that they’ve always asked of incest victims. (Think: Why didn’t you speak up sooner? Was it partly your fault? How bad was it really?) I should write a book that answers those questions.”
I asked my old-soul daughter if it would be believable for one character to suffer both incest and then workplace harassment in one book. Of course it is humanly possible and I’m sure has happened in too many cases. But would it work in a novel? My daughter is the one who suggested having two main characters: Shelby, who experiences incest, and another—Astrid—who endures sexual harassment. My dual narrative was born.
Point of View
The next important choice was which narrative point-of-view to employ. For Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, I knew third-person narrative wouldn’t be personal enough to effectively convey the rough-and-tumble thoughts of my victims as they process confusing and conflicting emotions that ebb and flow over time.
Ditto for an omniscient author, even though she would have had the ability to peek inside my main characters’ heads and hearts.
That left me with first person. Another major decision made.
Choosing my narrators’ ages was easy. I knew all along that Astrid and Shelby would be in their twenties. Two other new #MeToo-themed novels focus on older women: Most of the main female characters in The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker are mothers, so I’m taking a leap and guessing they are not fresh out of university. And Natalie in Savage News by Jessica Yellin is in her thirties.
But in my mind, twenties is the logical age for my protagonists because that’s when many women enter the workforce and are first exposed to corporate hierarchies, office politics and power plays. So I made Shelby a recent university graduate; Astrid graduated two years before Horseshoes and Hand Grenades begins.
Twice the Fun
So now I had two narrators and I had their ages. That’s when the fun really began! Developing a character’s personality through his/her/their voice is to me one of the best parts of writing fiction. Maybe because I love writing dialogue. And I got to do it twice! A friend and advance reader told me she could flip to any part of the book and know if Shelby or Astrid was speaking by the words on the page.
That variety of voice, and the flipping back and forth between narrators, makes the story more dynamic, I hope. It also avoids the age-old cliché of a first-person narrator describing their appearance as they peruse their reflection in the mirror. With two narrators—enemies turned friends—they can describe each other!
At the end of the day, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is an intensely personal story, about two women living through painful and traumatic situations as well as uplifting, funny and heart-warming ones. I hope the first-person, dual narrative approach helps readers who have had similar experiences connect with Astrid and Shelby. And I hope it helps readers who have not had similar experiences understand a bit better what it’s like to be one of those women.
About the author: S.M. Stevens began writing fiction during back-to-back health crises. First, she broke her pelvis in three places in a horseback riding fall, and used the recuperation period to write Shannon’s Odyssey, a middle-grade novel for animal-lovers. Soon after, Stevens was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. During her five months of treatment and subsequent recovery spell, she wrote Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers for musical theatre-loving teens. Two additional Bit Players novels followed. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is her first adult book. After watching reactions to the #MeToo movement, she decided it was time for a novel that takes people into the minds of victims so they can understand why many women don’t speak up about their harassment or assault, and why some do. When not writing, she provides marketing and public relations services to solar energy companies. She is from Gorham, Maine, and now lives in Clinton, Mass., and Washington, N.H. She has also lived in Italy and in the U.K., where she was Group Public Affairs Director for National Grid.
*-the price was taken from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com on the current date. The price might change at the time of your purchase. The links used in this post for book purchases are affiliates.