Arts Q&A: 'Wafford Springs' has ties to community

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'Wafford Springs' has ties to community

‘Wafford Springs’ book cover.

Local artist Sherri Bardsley said I should write about area writer Georgia Haug (pen name, Georgianna Jeans).

ART On the Square gallery, 420 Nexton Square Dr., Summerville, 843-871-0297. Daily from noon…

Sherri let me borrow her copy of “Wafford Springs,” a novel about the fictional town of Wafford Springs, Florida, and a unique young girl named Dessa, who comes to live with her grandmother and who is a natural with animals, especially a horse, Jasper, named after the author’s spirit cat.

Mary Regan

Mary E. Regan

Georgia is a retired horse trainer and animal lover. Sherri said she felt it was a real “feel good” story that reminded her of stories such as “The Secret Life of Bees” or “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

Regan: Georgia, how did you come to write this book?

Georgianna Jeans: My mother was a Great Depression baby. She was the eighth out of 10 children — born to dirt farmers.

I grew up hearing stories of their upbringing. I couldn’t get enough. Although my book is a work of fiction, the landscape and characters are inspired from my mother’s childhood.

R: This book was self-published in 2014 by Outskirts Press?

J: I wanted this book for myself, my mother and her family. Mattie Canfield is patterned after my grandmother; my mom was not in the best of health at the time. Inspired stories of farm life. I tried finding an agent and publisher, but it took months for a reply.

When I first started, agents required written queries. The only way I could get it in print quickly was to do it myself. I was overwhelmed. The editing was the hardest part. In the end—worth it. My grandmother died before I was finished, but my mom got to hold a book written by her daughter. The book was nominated for the 21st Annual EVVY Award (in 2014). The owner of Outskirts Press accepts the award and looks forward to the ceremony.

R: How long did it take you to write it? What was the toughest part about constructing the story?

G: The idea had been with me for 20-plus years and I did have a first draft years ago, but it was lost in a software update. Gone. I was trying to save paper. Lesson learned. A blow to all my senses. It would be a long time before I gave it another shot, but when I did sit down, it took the best part of a year. Thank God, the characters from the first draft were strong in my mind and had never left. Other writers have said this. Once the characters take shape, they start to dictate how things are going to go. The toughest part is getting out of their way and letting them have the playing field. More than once I have said out loud, “Boy, I didn’t see that coming.”

R: Do you feel there could be a sequel to this? Or, do you plan to write another book at some point?

J: There are to be two sequels. A segment of “Jolene’s Journey” is included at the back of “Wafford Springs.” It says it would be in print in 2015 but that did not happen. Although the book is nearly finished, I do not think I want to self-publish again. I did not really think anyone, but my family would find the books interesting. I’m happy I am wrong.

R: What author do you really enjoy? What is it about them that you like?

J: When it comes to the family saga genre, it is hard to beat Maeve Binchy. Her turn of phrase is unlike any other. I can hear the local chatter, the street sounds, and would love to have these characters as neighbors. She had an unmatched gift. I remember when she retired, I told my husband it wasn’t going to happen. She went on to write more and I spent many a rainy day reading her stories and giving myself time in Ireland. She passed away far too soon.

R: Any bit of advice for aspiring writers?

J: Be yourself. Write the way you talk, about what you know or would love to know. Immerse yourself in that time. I once heard Frank Darabont say that he listened to ‘30s music while he wrote the screen play for “The Green Mile.”

R: Which place have you enjoyed living in the most?

J: I grew up in Florida, so it will always be special. California has beaches and mountains and South Carolina has the best people and beautiful landscape. The great thing about all the places I have lived? Horses can be found and in abundance.

R: Are you working on a new book?

J: The two sequels need to be completed and since writing is rewriting, I will have enough to keep me busy for a while. The ideas do not stop coming. I am a little late to the game but so many wonderful authors can be found on YouTube. Writers sharing their thoughts and ideas.

R: What is coming up for you—any book signings/author talks, etc.?

J: I have done a local book club and had the best time doing that. I would love to do more. I meet so many who want to be writers and cannot encourage them enough. We need all the writers we can get. I don’t see anyone as a competitor. It takes us years to get a novel out and a devout reader can make small work of our efforts in a single night. If anyone reading this ever wondered if they have a novel inside of them—yes, and you can do it.

Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy and is seeking more clients. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.

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