Originally created 06/04/06

Local authors will have new titles out for season

This summer, when the days are long and the temperatures hot, readers looking for a little literary distraction will have two local authors with major publishers to provide the page-turners.

Augusta author Karin Gillespie returns in August with Dollar Daze: The Bottom Dollar Girls in Love, the third installment of her Bottom Dollar Girls series published by Simon & Schuster.

North Augusta resident Christine Hurley Deriso is making her young-adult book debut June 13 with Do-Over, published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House.

In Do-Over, a 13-year-old is granted the power to rewind her life back 10 seconds to redo any embarrassing mishaps or mistakes.

The inspiration for the book came while watching her teenage daughter and a friend one day, Mrs. Deriso said.

"She and her friend were playing at the house, and I said, 'What do you think about this idea for a novel?' And they both seemed really excited about the idea. They really responded to it."

Mrs. Deriso said she wrote the book and soon was shopping around for either an agent or a publisher. She got the publisher first, and things have been moving along ever since.

"It's very exciting," she said. "Especially since the story is so close to my heart. I tried in the story to incorporate advice I give my own children: Be true to yourself and be who you are. Be your own person, believe in yourself - those kinds of concepts."

What she got in the process was a chance to revisit her childhood and chronicle a time in her children's and every child's life with a sense of sweetness and reality. The best part, however, was getting into the "teenspeak."

"My daughter was real helpful in vetting it for me and saying that that sounds like something a 13-year-old would say," Mrs. Deriso said. "It was so much fun trying to capture that voice and reconnect with myself as a 13-year-old."

While readers of Do-Over will connect with the idea of wanting to redo some of the less glamorous parts of life, readers of Dollar Daze will be reconnecting with the Bottom Dollar Girls, Ms. Gillespie said.

This time her women have been hit by Cupid's arrow. Love doesn't stop the humor, though.

"It's funny," the former newspaper columnist said, and it's something readers can relate to.

"One thing about it is that so many of the scenes take place in Augusta," Ms. Gillespie said. "Even though the story doesn't take place here. First Fridays are in there. People will recognize places."

Before the book even begins, readers will identify with one location. The novel, dedicated to Ms. Gillespie's parents, also includes an inscription to all small towns in the South, particularly Milledgeville, Ga. The town was named in the book as part of a contest that Ms. Gillespie had sponsored with readers.

Even had she not included the dedications to small towns in the South, Ms. Gillespie said, the book would still have been an ode, of sorts, to Southern living.

"The South creeps into every book I write. I just love it. I think the South is the best place in the country. I've been everywhere. I love it. I like writing about it," she said. "It's like writing a love letter when I write about a book in the South."

Living in Georgia means inspiration is never far away, either, the author said.

"It's definitely easier because I live here," Ms. Gillespie said. "Anytime I want inspiration, I go to Louisville or Swainsboro ... and look and see. I really get a flavor of it. I get that more when I go to small towns than when I go to cities - cities don't have that (flavor) anymore."

Having written another book in the Bottom Dollar Girls series - although no publication date has been set - Ms. Gillespie is set to go on a seven-city tour but also has kept busy in other ways. In the past year, she spent 18-hour days in a three-month span working on a book with Jill Connor Browne, the author of the Sweet Potato Queen series. Their collaboration is set to be released in January.

Though that book should get a lot of reader attention, there's something to be said about summertime books.

"I love to read during the summer because it's so fabulous," Ms. Gillespie said, adding that Curtis Sittenfeld's The Man of My Dreams is atop her must-read list. "It's so hot, so the pace seems slower. You don't feel like doing a lot of vigorous activity. You feel like sitting in a hammock and reading with a cold drink beside you."

Thanks to the imagination of Mrs. Deriso and Ms. Gillespie, Augusta-area readers can feel as though they are sharing that hammock and drink with neighbors.

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com.


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