PaperBackSwap Blog

Guest Post by Author Mindy Friddle

Today we’re trying something a little different, we have author Mindy Friddle stopping by to talk about family secrets as mentioned in her newest book Secret Keepers.

At the end of the day we’ll have a random drawing including all of those who comment on the post.  Winner will receive a signed copy of Secret Keepers! Can’t think of something to comment about? Just tell us if you have any other favorite Novels that take place in the South like Secret Keepers or share some of your favorite family secrets!  (Congratulations to Courtney G., court4short -Enjoy your signed copy of Secret Keepers!)

Mindy Friddle - Author of Secret Keepers

Mindy Friddle - Author of Secret Keepers

Mindy’s Bio:
Mindy Friddle’s first novel, The Garden Angel (St. Martin’s Press/Picador) was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program in 2004, and was a National Public Radio (NPR) Morning Edition summer reading pick. Secret Keepers, her second novel, was published by St. Martin’s Press in May. She lives, writes, and gardens in Greenville, South Carolina. For more on her books, visit her website www.mindyfriddle.com and her blog, Novel Thoughts: Musings on Writing, Reading and the Earth.

Since I came across the letter from J. Edgar Hoover in my grandmother’s trunk, I’ve been thinking a lot about family secrets.

My grandmother died two years ago.She was 93, and she left behind a house and an attic full of stuff. I was helping my mother go through it all when we came across the trunk. Actually, it was my great-grandmother’s trunk, which she’d brought along in 1950 when she moved in with my grandparents from North Carolina to Greenville, SC. My great-grandmother came from Franklin, NC, a little town up in the mountains, and it must have been hard for her to leave the place she’d grown up in, but, alas, widowed and the mother of an only child, she came down to Greenville reluctantly, dutifully, bringing along her trunk. Opening it just those few weeks ago felt like peering into a time capsule– my great-grandmother’s hairpins and sewing kit, dried flowers, a bible, newspaper clipping and lots and lots of photographs. Unlabeled, most of them: photos of farmers and fiddlers, of a woman smoking a pipe holding a goat, a baptism at the river, of brides and grave stones. Postcards too. From Atlantic City in 1910. My dear, it is beautiful here. There are so many people! And telegraphs. Sorry to inform you. STOP. Your son died in battle. Stop.

And letters. THE letter. From J. Edgar Hoover to the Sheriff of Macon County. About a missing person? The FBI…”Oh, that’s about Aunt Lily,” my mother said. “You know…your great-grandmother’s sister. She disappeared…and they never found her.” Huh?

My mother was only 13 when her Great-aunt Lily disappeared. My grandmother never talked about it much. And my great-grandmother and her people didn’t much discuss it, either. She just worked quietly, diligently, writing to the sheriff of her hometown for years, begging him to keep trying to find her sister. Her only sister. Who had married late in life, married a man who came through town–no one knew his people, no one knew anything much about him– but she–Lily– left with him, heading to California. “I reckon they eloped,” a relative tells me. “She just ran off with him.” A preacher’s daughter, a spinster? No children. With a salesman? She lost her head–and other things maybe, too– headed off to California, where her letters were regular for months, then stopped, and then…she disappeared. Never a trace. No funeral. The husband disappeared, too. He killed her, is what my great-grandmother suspected. No one said it outright, but they knew, they knew.

A few weeks ago, I was at a writers’ conference telling the story about my finding the letter from Hoover in my great-grandmother’s trunk. The table full of writers dropped silverware, jaws, conversation. I had given them the barest dry details, but it was enough to ignite a whole bonfire of possibilities.
She left because of sex. No, she was in love. He was a serial killer.(Cold Case fans.) No, SHE killed him. (A Rose for Emily, anyone?). Or maybe he left her and she was just too ashamed to come back home and fled to Mexico? Or …swam out in the choppy Pacific and…

Family secrets… the perfect breeding ground for novels.
# # #

SECRET KEEPERS:  strong storytelling, comic touches, prickly family dynamics, and the magical power of nature.
St. Martin’s Press
Read an excerpt at www.mindyfriddle.com
On Sale: 4/27/2009
ISBN: 9780312537029
ISBN-10: 0312537026
Also available: THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin’s Press & Picador)


31 Responses to “Guest Post by Author Mindy Friddle”

  1. A favorite novel set inthe south? Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Thanks for the give away!

  2. Lacy says:

    Sounds like a great book, I would like to enter! PBS membername is hellolacy

  3. Courtney G. (court4short) says:

    This book sounds really good! I’d love to read it!

  4. Looks and sounds interesting, and I’m always interested in reading novels by fairly new authors. Plus, this would be something my wife would enjoy.

  5. R Wentz says:

    Sounds like a great summer read!

  6. Kim M. (kimba) says:

    Wow, it does make you wonder what could have happened, and definitely book material!

  7. As a historian of the South, I think that missing persons story is amazing on so many levels. First, why is it that in the South we always have those eccentric relatives who just vanish? Second, there’s the fact that J. Edgar Hoover himself happened to get involved. That story is practically screaming out for a book. If your fiction is nearly as good as your truth, I can’t wait to check it out.

    Also, I love the cover art for Secret Keepers. Seeing as that you are a gardener and plant lover, I’m wondering how much you had to do with it? I always hear about cover art being one of those bones of contention between authors and publishers.

    Good luck with your book!

  8. Trish R. (southernbooks) says:

    This sounds like an amazing book! My user name at PBS is southernbooks because I am such a fan of Southern writers. This sounds like a wonderful read!

  9. Kai C. (wings) says:

    sounds like a great story! look forward to it

  10. Allyson Lords says:

    Sounds like a great summer read! What family doesn’t have secrets and you NEVER know where they are … or where they will lead. Can’t wait to see where these secrets lead to. Makes me look at all the heirlooms from past generations and wonder what is hiding behind the lines of the letters from some unknown person in France to my Greatgrandfather, or the pictures of places I didn’t know family visited. Keeps me wondering.

    Can’t wait to get a copy to read.

  11. LISA (LisaRC) says:

    It sounds like an excellent book….I am always looking for new authors with original stories to tell, and I love the aspect of the attic treasures…that is always a topic I love to read about!!! Can’t wait to read this one.
    Every piece of antique what nots have a secret story hidden behind them, a special gift from a lover, a gift to a mother or father for a special occasion., etc. and it is always fun to find out, if possible, what the “secret” is.

  12. My fav novels set in the south are Gone with the Wind (classic) and Cold Mountain. I think all of my family “secrets” must still be secrets because I don’t know about any of them 🙂 But thanks for featuring this book, it sounds really good!

  13. Cassie D. (cmdoduck) , says:

    I am from the south but can’t think of any family secrets. I have enjoyed Nicolas Sparks books that are based in some southern states as well as John Grisham’s books.

  14. Ashley S. (booksobsession) says:

    I would love to win and read this book! Looks like a great summer read.

  15. Michele R. (momrisner) says:

    Sounds like a great read for the summer. I’ve often wondered if we have any family secrets. No one was much of a historian and there are a lot of unanswered questions and no one to give us the answers

  16. Thanks for the great comments everyone! It’s a pleasure to be a guest blogger here at PaperBackSwap, among an avid group of readers.[I left a reply earlier, but apparently it didn’t take…]

    Jennifer– your question about the book cover….I actually took that photo, and the boots are on my front porch. When my editor requested any ideas and images I had for the cover, I sent along vintage seed catalogs, links to photos, etc. and included some photographs from my own garden. Lo and behold– they opted to use the boot photo…a pleasant surprise. I’ve written more details about the “cover story” of SECRET KEEPERS at Whole Latte Life http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/2009/06/boots-books-and-giveaway.html and Gaijin Mama http://gaijinmama.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/mindy-friddles-cover-story-the-importance-of-book-covers/

  17. Nancy H. (nancytoes) says:

    Wow, what an amazing find that trunk must have been! I’m envious. All of my family is gone and I missed out on the chance to dig through my grandmother’s house when she died. My thieving uncle carted off all the beautiful framed photographs and tons of treasures — just filled up a UHaul and drove it to his home. I would love to read this book. It must have been quite a treat to see everyone go silent at the mention of your family secrets.

  18. SJacob says:

    It would have to be Gone With The Wind. My family secrets, well I think they will stay secret.

  19. Angela Medina says:

    I’m intrigued! As for my family secrets? Too many to count and some too painful to recall.

  20. I love the cover for this book. That alone makes me think of both Grandmothers and the South!

  21. Vicki W. (bouncy01) says:

    This sounds really good! Count me in!

  22. Michael G. says:

    Touchy subject matter!

    Gone with the wind… speaking of that have you heard the houlablu about Clark Gables Daughter?
    When they interviewed her about what grandpa would say about her behavior… I was waiting for her
    to use the line… ” Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn! ” It would have been so classic but she only said
    he wouldn’t care… such a waste of great air time!

  23. Erica says:

    My favorite book that takes place in the south is Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols!!! I absoutely loved it!

  24. Thanks for answering my question, Mindy. It’s a wonderful picture and all the better because it’s near and dear to your heart!

  25. Alice L. (dpgranny) says:

    Family secrets? Sounds like an interesting book!

  26. Monica E. (endlesssummer) says:

    Thanks for sharing the background about the cover art, which makes the book seem even more real, if that makes sense. Would love t read this intriguing book.

  27. admin says:

    Congrats to Courtney G. (court4short)! …you’ve just won the signed copy of Secret Keepers! Enjoy!

  28. Olivia (bibikikitrutru) says:

    looks interesting. would love to read the book.

  29. Tammy W. (quiltingpoodle) , says:

    The blog I read was great. The family secrets that we all have, whether we know it or not is amazing. There are a few interesting stories of murder and intrigue in my family’s history. I think it is so interesting. Sounds like a great book. Loved the blog!

  30. Richard P. (Founder-PBS) says:

    Thanks so much for visiting our club. We wish you great success with your books and hope that our members enjoy reading your blog. Great job!

  31. Will Parle says:

    Wonderful publish! I fully agree along with you.

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