Book Club Queen

Susan Gregg Gilmore: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
A Good Book To Read & Discuss with the Author

January 2, 2009. Queenie D's first interview of the New Year with Susan Gregg Gilmore
on her bookLooking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen.

Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Book Club Queen
This is a story about forgiveness and redemption. Did you know that was going to be your underlying theme when you began writing or did it develop as the pages unfolded?



Susan Gregg Gilmore
It totally developed as the story unfolded. I start with a character and a place and go from there. Apparently that makes me an organic writer - which suits me just fine.

But forgiveness, and our ability as humans to both give it and accept it, has always intrigued me, and at times quite honestly, completely frustrated me.

Catherine Grace had to offer up a lot of forgiveness - kind of like creamed corn at a church supper! And I don't think her daddy, or her mama for that matter, was able to accept such a generous gift.

I really think, at the end of the day, our ability to live in good and peaceful relationships with one another is rooted in our ability to accept one another as human and imperfect, and I'm reminded of this every time I turn on the news. And I imagine it's a theme I will revisit again and again in different ways.

Now if I only had a felt board (for those of your who have already read the book) I could further illustrate my point!


Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore


Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Book Club Queen
The very small things about life in Ringgold amazed me, like Catherine Grace and Martha Ann knowing that Mrs. Gulbenk's tomato aspic tasted like Hunt's tomato paste and lime Jell-O. Seems like intimate knowledge of someone's kitchen is usually within a family or between very close friends. Is this what life in a small town is really like or is it this way for the Cline's because they are the preacher's daughters and have no mama?



Susan Gregg Gilmore
Probably a bit of both. Preachers and their families, particularly in a small town, are really loved and cared for by their church community. At least this was the case with my own grandfather. I imagine that with no mama in the Cline house, the young preacher's family was often fed by others in town.

And since Mrs. Gulbenk was the Home Economics teacher, she would have been one of the first in line to serve. And I imagine her tomato aspic would have been on the menu quite regularly.





Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore


Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Book Club Queen
The concept of struggling with faith is very prevalent throughout Catherine's life. While I felt this book was very spiritual, it didn't "push" God on her, even with a preacher for a Daddy, and you didn't push the concept on the reader. Instead, just as with Catherine, we are allowed to have our own relationship with Him. Do you believe faith and religion are personal and should not be forced on a person?



Susan Gregg Gilmore
Wow. Great question. I don't think you can force much of anything on anyone with any success. What's the saying - You can lead a horse to water but you can't . . .

I think our relationship with God is a very personal one, a very long and very personal journey. Probably the most enlightening moments for us are when we're really in sync -- when we as humans are fully aware of our traveling companion so to speak.

I think there's really no questioning that actions speak louder than words - much louder - they scream really. And Catherine Grace acted her faith, never preached it.




Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore


Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Book Club Queen
Is Catherine capable of living her "big-city dream" in a small town?



Susan Gregg Gilmore
Hmm. Another great question. I really don't know the answer to that one. I hope so. I think so. But I think she's always going to be curious about what's out there beyond the Catoosa County line. And unlike her father, I don't think she's afraid to go out and look.








Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore


Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Book Club Queen
How will things turn out for Martha Ann? Could she be the one who ends up leaving after all?



Susan Gregg Gilmore
Oh I think so. At least in my head she is. I see her going to college and devouring her studies. I'm not sure whether she goes on to write for a big-city newspaper, teach university-level English or write the great American novel. But it will be big, I think. Of course, she might decide to come back to Ringgold and teach high-school English which would probably be the most challenging thing she could do!





Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore


Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Book Club Queen
What are your future plans as an author? Can you tell us what you're working on right now?



Susan Gregg Gilmore
Well my most immediate plans are to quit cleaning my house and get back in my chair, sitting at my desk, and writing. At the beginning of a new year I always like to clean house, literally and figuratively. It's such immediate gratification, something a writer doesn't experience very often.

I have finished my second book, and it's in the hands of my editor right now. She seems very happy with it so that's a relief. It's also set in the South, this time Nashville. And it's about a very affluent young girl with an odd first name (Bezellia) and her crazy, dysfunctional family.

I have started book three. Well, started and stopped and started again. I spent about six weeks on the first 10 pages and then threw them in the trash just before Christmas. So I plan, come January 5, to be back at my desk - unless there's some more dusting to do!




Good Book to Read: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore


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