Today is a big day! This is the first time one of my characters gets to speak outside the book or my brain. Even more exciting is that once all the introductions are done, on come the actually teasers from the book!! I can barely stand it! I hope you all enjoy this cyber-interview with her and hopefully begin to see what she’s like.
BOOK CHAT with Caroline Irvine
I'd been trying for weeks to get granted a meeting with some of the characters from the new book series by Laurel, MS native, KD Wood. Unfortunately, I wasn't having much luck. Finally after several invitations, and even more refusals, my offer to interview the female lead character for Book Chat was finally accepted.
After days and days of location coordination between myself and Neely's camp, I was finally invited to the McIntire home for our sit down. Eighteen year old Neely McIntire is the star of the new novel series and herself a native of Laurel, MS. She graciously agreed to sit down with me at her parents’ home in Jones County. Twisting my way through a half dozen country roads, I finally arrived at the McIntire's home. Her parents, Thomas and Alicia, met me at the door then led me into the living room to wait. They explained that Neely was on the phone getting last minute instructions from the publicist for the series about what she couldn't talk about. Thinking about how thrilled my editor had been that I’d scored the interview, that didn’t sound very promising.
Mrs. McIntire led me to a couch in the living room to wait. The sound of a guitar being softly strummed drifted in as I sat and took in the elements of the room. Fifteen minutes later, Mrs. McIntire had offered me a big glass of sweet tea with Old Miss Rebels printed on it just about the same time I heard quick footsteps coming down the stairs. Standing to greet her as she came into the room, the young lady I assumed was Neely smiled and stuck out a thin but nicely tanned arm to shake hands. One of the first things I noticed is that her long strawberry-blonde curls hang well past her shoulders and frame her face nicely. Because I'm only five feet and five inches myself, I'd guesstimate she's around five-seven and built like a swimmer. Long arms, long legs, thin but muscular with some of the bluest eyes I've ever seen. She glided through the room and greeted me with a nice smile.
After we'd shook, she settled in an overstuffed brown chair and swung one leg under the other before leaning towards me on the arm of the chair.
Q. Neely, it's nice to finally meet you and thanks for sitting down to talk to me for a bit.
A. It's nice to meet you too and thanks for driving all the way out here to the boondocks.
Q. I would think it’s very exciting to be part of a new book series. Have you enjoyed it so far?
A. Well...it's been sort of fun, except for everything being such a dang secret all the time. I swear I feel like I'm going to screw up and spill the whole pot of beans every time I talk to someone about it.
Q. What do you mean?
A. Oh you know, KD is just so paranoid about plot secrets and giving things away. She won't let any of us out in public yet. Plus, she's constantly reminding us to keep our yaps shut so we don't spoil things for everyone else. “The books are meant to be enjoyed a certain way,” she says. She's a teeny bit mental about it if you ask me.
Q. Your mother told me you were on the phone with the publicist when I came in. Did she loosen your leash enough that you could tell us something about the story?
A. Nope. I can only tell you about myself and no one else. Sorry dude.
Q. Can you tell me anything about the book?
A. Not much, except that I'm in it and it's about something that happens to me. I can tell you things about myself though, she said that's fine.
Q. Okay...well, what's your role in the story?
A. I'm the lead female character and the story is told from my point of view, most of the time. KD has a fancy name for it like...uh... I can't ever remember the exact word.
Q. Is there a male lead?
A. Yep…and I’m not allowed to tell you about him. Well, there are actually two male lead characters but they'll have to do their own interviews. Sorry, paranoid remember.
Q. Of course, so what did you enjoy most about the story?
A. Easy now, that sounds like a trick question.
Q. Sorry. Okay, uh…can you tell me a little about you then?
A. Sure. I'm eighteen and about to graduate from high school. I live here with my parents Thomas and Alicia and I have a younger brother and sister, Carrie and Kyle. They're twins.
Q. Where do you go to school?
A. I'm a senior at West Jones High, but I'm going to MSU after graduation.
Q. Any plans yet on what you're going to study?
A. I want to design web pages but I’m not for sure about it yet.
Q. Are you happy to be graduating?
A. Yeah sort of, but I think I'll miss high school once I get to college because I'll miss my friends.
Q. What do you like most about the book?
A. That I'm in it ha! You thought you were going to get me didn't you?
Q. Sorry, you know I had to try. So what are you into? Like...what do you do on the weekends and after school?
A. I'm on the swim team and I spend a lot of time with my friends on the weekends. We go to the river and out to movies and things like that. In the off season I read a lot. I'm looking forward to graduation too. We even have a big party planned out at my best friend's river house after the ceremony.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your family. What do your parents do?
A. Well, my mom is a pediatrician and my dad is a lawyer. The twins are in the tenth grade.
Q. Your mom gave me a glass with Old Miss Rebels on it, are you a fan too?
A. Omigod, you didn't ask her about Old Miss, did you? I hope not or she'll be in here talking your ear off about them first chance she gets. My mother is crazy about them Rebels. It's so embarrassing. I’m not for them myself. One of my guy friends is being scouted pretty hard by Alabama so I think I’ll be rooting for them once he gets on the team. Football isn’t so much my thing you know.
Q. Do you have any other family that's local?
A. Yeah, my mother's parents are just down the road, David and Semma Taylor, but my dad's folks passed away when I was little. Dad has a couple of sisters and a few aunts and uncles still living, but we only keep up with my great-aunt Gee Gee.
Q. I was reading up on your family and it says your dad's people were one of the first families to settle in Laurel. How does that legacy affect your future?
A. Huh...well that's a deep one. My dad's folks were very...I guess you could call them old money types. You know, they stepped on all the little guys to make their way and didn't give a flip how it might hurt them. My dad wasn't for that, and once he got old enough to make his own way, he did. It's one of the main reasons we don't have a lot to do with his aunts, uncles or sisters. Plus, my Aunt’s nag the bejeezus out of Dad.
Q. Do you get along with your brother and sister?
A. Most of the time I guess. My brother is super laid back, really into his guitar, and sweet as can be. My sister is alright but she's mega high-maintenance. Carrie is all about clothes and shopping and stuff, I'm so not into that.
Q. Do you have a best friend?
A. Hayden and I have been friends since we were babies and Lacy and I met in kindergarten. That's my two best buds.
Q. What are you listening to?
A. Um...I just bought The Script's album and I have Cold Play in my stereo right now. The next one I want is Tokyo Police Club, they are real cool. I watched them on Fallon a few weeks ago.
Q. I saw a shiny black Mercedes SLK 300 in the driveway, is that yours?
A. It's awesome right!? I had the windows tinted when Dad gave it to me and it's so wicked looking now. He handed it down to me a couple of years ago when he upgraded to the Mercedes SLS AMG. Dad keeps that thing in the garage when he's not driving it and won't let anyone but mom ride in it. Notice I said ride, not drive. I've been about to die to drive it but he won't even consider it.
Q. I hear there's for sure one more book, are you in that one too?
A. Yep, it's the continuation of the first book so it's more of my story. I'm excited about it and it's really good so far. I know there's a rough outline for a third but it's very rough at the moment. There are a lot more intense details in the second one and the story is quite the roller coaster of emotions.
Q. You seem to be really close to the author.
A. I guess you could say that since I'm part of her imagination. There's been times when she's gotten annoyed at everyone in the story, me included, because we have our own ideas about how things are supposed to go. Like any creative process, there's a conflict sometimes between how KD wants things to go and how I know I would do things but she's always takes the time to listen to all sides, even when she doesn't want to. Now, some of the other characters are more pig-headed than I am, which is saying a lot, but eventually KD always finds the right path for the story.
Q. I guess KD doesn't mind you in her head all the time?
A. Whether she minds me being in her head I can't say for sure. I can imagine it gets irritating sometimes though. I think there are moments that our conversations would be more convenient, like when she's not in the shower, but she's even come up with ways around that too.
Q. What do you mean? How does she get around it?
A. The solution was born out of pure necessity really. In the beginning, ideas and conversations kept happening when she would get in the shower. Two kids and husband to tend to, it’s really the only time she’s alone in quiet. So, she put a dry erase marker in the shower basket. She writes everything on the shower door if we happen to need to talk right then. KD's pretty inventive when she has to be. You should have seen the look on her husband’s face when he walked in and saw it the first time, it was priceless. He thought she’d gone loony.
Q. Does it ever get too crowded in her imagination? I mean with two solid books written and two more in the works, there's got to be a little pushing and shoving to get heard sometimes right?
A. Well sure, there are days when my voice gets drowned out by other characters but it works out somehow. Sometimes my character needs the rest and then the others who have been waiting need to be heard. We work pretty well together most of the time.
Q. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. Is there anything about the book you can share? Even the tiniest thing…?
A. You just don't know how much of a cow KD would have if it spilled the beans. I guess I can tell you it's a story slam full of twists and turns that no one in a little town like Laurel would expect. So get ready to be on pins and needles right till the end.