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Interview – Blue Dirt author, Aimee Dearmon

Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Aimee Dearmon, author of Blue Dirt.  Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Aimee. For any of our readers that haven’t come across any of your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?

Aimee Dearmon: I’m primarily a fiction writer, although I do freelance work as a web content writer and ghost writer to help pay the bills. I’ve published at least three essays and four short-stories both online and in print. A shorter version of my novel, Blue Dirt Filling Station, originally published in Menda City Press, was nominated for a Million Writers Award and was mentioned as one of the most notable stories of 2010 by storySouth (not a typo) Magazine.  Another of my short stories, A White Rose, was adapted and performed in the finale of the Evergreen Theatre Ensemble’s production of Elinor Jones’, A Voice of Her Own, in celebration of Chicagoland female writers.

SPS:  When did you first realize you had a love for writing?

AD: I was in the 6th grade, probably about 11 years old. I wrote a “book” to entertain my friends.

SPS:  What are your perfect writing conditions? Can you write anytime, anywhere?

AD: I prefer to sit at my PC with the television on, for some reason. And I can’t write just anywhere, but I am a private-duty nurse and I do write, with pen and paper, in my down time.

Blue Dirt

SPS: Your debut novel, Blue Dirt centers on the events of a small town over a summer in the early 1980’s. What could someone expect from the novel?

AD: Well, there’ll be a lot of ‘80s teenage slang and Southernisms. You’ll learn or recall what life was like before cell phones and computers. You’ll also get an idea of what it was like for a young woman to toil at a man’s job in a man’s world. 

SPS:  What sort of reader do you think Blue Dirt will appeal to? Is there anything out there you would compare your novel to, to help readers?

AD: Yes, anyone who enjoys commercial fiction, especially Southern fiction. Although my story is completely different, it does have something in common with Icy Sparks, Fried Green Tomatoes and the like, in that it captures what life was really like in a small Southern town.

SPS: Tell us a little about Ella, the heroine of the novel?

AD: Ella has just graduated from High School and is spending her last summer before college working in her father’s filling station dreaming of a future far more glamorous than the one she faces in Blue Dirt.  She does live on the outskirts of her community in that she feels a slightly above her neighbors, although it doesn’t often show.

SPS: Like Ella, your first job was at a Gas Station in rural Alabama. Are there a few of your own experiences in the novel?

AD: Two, actuallyThe scene where Ella sits on the frame of a diesel cab, in front of an audience of several boys, and spills oil on the engine actually happened.  And, I met my future husband at the station in much the same way that Ella met Curtis.

SPS: Can you tell us about some of the other characters we meet whilst we are in town.

AD: My favourite characters are Fred and Clyde, two old retirees, who lounge on a bench in front of the station. They communicate, without uttering a word, throughout the entire book. Then, there is Billy, Ella’s co-worker and the king of gossip, Melvin, the aging ladies man who doesn’t know he’s aging, and Kissy, the town hottie. And, of course, there is the mysterious new lawman whose overzealous behaviour doesn’t win him any favour with the townsfolk who are already wary of strangers.

SPS: Is there anything you would you like readers to take away from reading Blue Dirt, or do you prefer them to decide for themselves?

AD: I’d like them to walk away feeling as if they were there in Blue Dirt and part of community for a short while.

SPS:  Is the novel a complete ‘Standalone’, or do you have future plans to continue to tell Ella’s story?

AD: Ella Mae has a long and exciting future ahead of her, enough to fill at least one more book. We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

 SPS: We like to spend a moment looking at an individual’s book covers. Can you tell us about how the cover to BLUE DIRT came about?

AD: Dave Neesley is the cover designer.  I love his work and he does all the photography on my website.  His extraordinary use of color draws certain details to the forefront and makes an otherwise mundane picture explode. While traipsing around the country, as he often does, he came across this ancient, abandoned station. In his mind’s eye, this was the Blue Dirt filling station. I agreed, so we used one of the many photos he shot for the cover.

SPS: We also appreciate a good book trailer. How did you go about putting yours together?

AD: Dave is an experienced videographer, so we went on location with our actresses in tow, and shot the video trailer at the same abandoned station pictured on the cover. Instead of using subtitles, Dave allowed Ella Mae to deliver the teasers in her own words.  He’s definitely a non-conformist.

SPS: What we can we expect next from the pen of Aimee Dearmon?

AD: I have a novel that’s practically written, but was shelved for personal reasons. The subject matter is not nearly as light as Blue Dirt. It deals with miscegenation in turn-of-the-last-century Alabama and took nearly ten years to research. I plan to shake the dust off of it and polish it up for publication in the near future.

SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?

AD: No. I would have preferred traditional publishing and let those who know the industry much better than I, do all the work. I did, in fact, put some queries out there. I had a few requests for the manuscript, but eventually, I was turned down for my novel’s lack of “commercial value”. I disagreed. I had already done a lot of research on self-publishing and was encouraged by the Indie-Author explosion, so I made the decision to go it alone. Now, many of my author friends, some with significant publishing credits, are considering the Indie route.

SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?

AD: I know it seems trite, but read. Just a little every day is enough. It’s not necessary to read with the speed of Evelyn Wood or tear through three 100,000 word novels a week.  It’s okay to read slowly and make every book an examination of the author’s writing style.   

SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…

AD:  If you like Southern Fiction, look up and read anything by Elaine Fowler Palencia.

SPS: Thank you for joining us today Aimee, and good luck in the future.

AD:  Thank you and thanks for your interest.

SPS: For more information on Aimee Dearmon and her work, please do visit her Author page and pick up a copy of Blue Dirt HERE

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