Thursday, 20 June 2019

Book Spotlight & Guest Post: Birdie & Jude by Phyllis H. Moore

Birdie & Jude by Phyllis H. Moore

A moving novel of loss, regret, denial, and discovery on Galveston Island, from the author of Opal’s Story and The Ember Months.
Birdie has lived to regret many of her decisions, but she doesn’t regret offering a stranger, Jude, shelter from an approaching hurricane. Their serendipitous meeting will form a bond that will change their lives forever.
In a character driven story with memories of the protests and inequality plaguing the 1960's, Birdie’s reached middle age and questions her life. Jude is striking out on her own, but has been derailed by a fatal accident claiming her only friend. Although their backgrounds and lives are vastly different, they recognize something in the other that forges a friendship.

As their relationship solidifies, they share glimpses of their pasts. Birdie is a product of the '60's, an aging hippie, with a series of resentments. She had a sheltered childhood in an upper class family. Her parents longed to see her make the Texas Dip at the Mardi Gras ball. Jude, however, entered foster care as an infant. Her parents, victims of a murder/suicide, left her and her siblings orphaned and separated.
There is something about their connection that strikes Birdie as familiar. Can souls know each other in different lives? Birdie struggles with the awareness that she has had regrets and hasn't lived an authentic life, while Jude faces an uncomfortable truth about her own. It has all the feels.
 What Makes a Character Feel Real in Fiction?
By Phyllis H. Moore

The story and characters are what most people remember about fiction. All of the characters must have a unique personality and they must be believable. The question for me with Birdie & Jude was, do we have to like them?
As I thought about Birdie, her little dog, Ollie, her past and present family, and her friendships, I knew she would have some resentment and anger. I also knew she would believe she’d been misunderstood for most of her life. So, for me, Birdie’s challenge was to accept herself, just as she was, and to be able to forgive anyone who misunderstood or judged her. That was her quest, her yearning in this story. That’s what made her vulnerable and real.
The truth is, none of us are likeable all of the time. We all have days when we don’t even like ourselves. However, Birdie is a curmudgeon, often expecting the worst in most situations. It was important to provide some of Birdie’s history so readers could understand why Birdie developed some of her negativity. Her day to day life described how she moved around her neighborhood and walked to the beach. She was viewed as a local character, an older woman with quirks who most people forgave and were willing to look after. Even her nephew, the brunt of most of Birdie’s criticism, ignored her complaints and focused on her strengths.
One of my editors for this story didn’t like Birdie. They loved the story and the message, but Birdie irritated them. I didn’t mind those comments, because for me, that made Birdie more realistic. She was someone I invented, but she could evoke feelings in a reader who met her flat on a page, naked as she was. How can a person be irritated with someone who doesn’t really exist? I was proud of myself for being able to create that feeling.
As irritable as Birdie could be, we were also privy to her thoughts and her opinion of others. The insight into what she cared about, her feelings about discrimination, and her experiences with her parents give us a glimpse of what formed her frustrations. Throughout it all, Birdie maintained a dry sense of humor. She made choices to live a life for other people and not embrace her own passions. That is where the beginning of her resentment began to brew. In my mind, Birdie developed a passive-aggressive attitude toward her family. She went through the motions for them, choosing to be the fragile, compliant daughter, but she didn’t have to be happy about it. The only thing she liked about Mardi Gras was hiding behind the mask.
One of the themes in this story about Birdie and her friend, Jude, is that souls might have a chance to reunite. Maybe we all get a chance to reinvent ourselves for another life. We learn our lessons in the present and when we know better we get another chance to prove ourselves. I know I’m counting on it. Birdie is real for me and I have a feeling in her next life she really won’t care if anyone likes her, she’ll be her authentic self and make the choice to do what’s right for herself.
I always have liked the underdog, the vulnerable, the odd ball. I like Birdie in all her dysfunction and moodiness, and I hope readers can see a little of themselves in her while they cheer for her awakening.

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Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Series, Sabine, Billy’s Story, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. In 2018 she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime, a Meg Miller Cozy Mystery. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her web site Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.
Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.