Hi there everyone!
I am excited to share with you today an exclusive excerpt for author Claire Fullerton’s novel Mourning Dove.
About Mourning Dove:
“An accurate and heart-wrenching picture of the sensibilities of the American South.” Kirkus Book Reviews
The heart has a home when it has an ally.
If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.
Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.
But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?
And now here is an exclusive excerpt from the novel:
In winter, Finley tried out for the Woodhill Country Club hockey team because Dad, in his day, had played a regionally lauded center.
One good look at the eight-year-old Finley, and anybody would have said he didn’t have the stature for a contact sport. But Dad took Finley seriously and shepherded us to the rink, where he coached Finley into membership while I skated figure eight into arabesque. Mom had no interest in skating but she loved standing on the ice socializing in her fabulous full-length beaver coat, deeply engaged in gossiping, which was the only contact sport that ever truly held her attention. Chuck Dudley was part of the parents’ crowd that stood on the ice unshielded in Minnesota’s ungodly winter temperatures.
The grown-ups huddled in a cluster, drinking Schnapps from plastic glasses after smearing Vaseline on their children’s faces to abate the whipping wind. I didn’t like Chuck Dudley from the first moment I saw him. There was something smarmy about him, something slick, wormy, lax-muscled, and weak-shouldered, but my mother sure liked him.
I couldn’t tell why.
He had a mousy wife he ignored and a nine-year-old son named Derrick, who was just as unsavory as he. The attention Chuck Dudley slathered on my mother made me uneasy, yet for some reason it made her shine. She became animated in his presence, laughing and charming and fluid, as if Chuck were the most captivating person in the world. Every time we went to Woodhill, Chuck was there laughing and grinning with his big white teeth and blond receding hairline.
The women at Woodhill vied for his attention because they subliminally subscribed to his self-image, which he cast about like a net designed to ensnare. Chuck Dudley got my mother’s competitive nature riled, and it was clear he had his sights set on her now that his three-year affair with Sandra Hardwicke had ended. He’d preen and strut under my mother’s encouragement, and they flattered each other’s vanity like pleasure-seekers in need of a high.
I didn’t know if Finley intended it or not. I didn’t know if he presciently intuited disruption brewing and wanted to rail against it, or if Derrick Dudley was just a pansy in the wrong place at the wrong time. I leaned down to tie my skate laces. When I looked up, I saw Derrick on his back, crying and bleeding from his forehead, with Finley at a T-stop standing over him wearing a scowl.
Even though they were on the same team, Finley had managed to head-butt Derrick with an impact that started on the ice, landed in the hospital, and wove its way into the fabric of our lives.
About the Author:
I’ve always known I’m a story teller. Having been born in Wayzata, Minnesota (the homeland of my father) and transplanted at the age of ten to Memphis, Tennessee (the homeland of my mother,) I learned early that the art of observation can be an acclimating life saver. My mother told me that as a child, I would sit and watch people. I was thirty years old the first time she said this, then she added,“You still do.” If what is known as “the writer’s eye” is the ability to see the world from the outside in, then I am happily guilty.
Although I now live in Malibu, California, I’ll always consider myself a Southerner: a card carrying member of the last romantic culture on earth. When I was growing up, Memphis was a hot-bed of social and cultural change. In this atmosphere, I embraced popular music, for the city that sits on the bluff of the Mississippi is a musical mecca, and I wanted to be in its middle. I found my niche in music radio as a member of the on-air staff of five different stations, during a nine year career.
Music radio led me to the music business, and the music business led me to Los Angeles, where I worked for three years as an a1rtist’s representative, securing record deals for bands. From Los Angeles, I took a trip to the west coast of Ireland and ended up staying a full year. An uncanny twist of fate directed me back to Los Angeles, where unbeknownst to me, my future husband waited. Three weeks after my return to the United States, I reviewed the journal I kept, while living in Ireland, and knew I had a good story. I started the draft of what became my second published novel, but years intervened between its beginning and publication.
During those years, I wrote a creative, weekly column for The Malibu Surfside News, and submitted to writing contests and magazines as I focused on developing my craft. I wrote a paranormal mystery about a woman who suspects she has lived before, and titled it A Portal in Time. Vinspire Publishing published the book, so I decided to show them the manuscript of my Irish novel. Vinspire Publishing published it under the title Dancing to an Irish Reel the following year.
My third novel is titled Mourning Dove. It’s a sins-of-the-father, Southern Family Saga, set in 1970’s and 1980’s Memphis, and I’m thrilled to report that Firefly Southern Fiction will publish it in June of 2018.
I love the lifestyle that writing affords. I write daily, on one project or another, and like many writers, I have an inexplicable urge to interpret the world around me, in hopes that readers will not only be entertained and have something to think about, but be able to see themselves.