Can I just say how much I adored meeting Jill McCorkle? I totally enjoyed it! Now from that statement, I’m sure most would think that I’ve been a Jill McCorkle fan for years- but surprise- Life After Life was my first book to read by her. I had an opportunity to review Life After Life several weeks ago through Netgalley, and during this time frame, Life After Life made Deep South Magazine’s 10 Reads for Spring. I trust Deep South Mag’s opinion- and if they say it’s a good read; well then, I’m going to give it a try. And lastly, during this time, I checked Turnrow Books in Greenwood, MS events and guess who was coming to town? Jill McCorkle! So like the Magic 8 ball says “all signs point to yes”- it was decided that I needed to read this book. So I did- and I really enjoyed it. Funny, heartwarming, sad at times- great characters. All are dealing with a heartache, a situation, and some are trying to make the last years of their lives count.
But what made meeting Jill McCorkle the best was how funny and nice she is- she could go from talking about some of the most heartfelt things to making the room crack up with loud giggles and laughs.
At the signing/reading- Jill read from “Sadie” a bit, then read from “Joanna’s Notes” about her dad, then read “Joanna’s dad’s” section. Each section had it’s own voice, it’s own thoughts- and was beautifull written- and even humours at times. Jill told the audience that she likes to think there is a lot of humor in Life After Life, even though there is sadness.
Jill also told the audience that it’s a popular misconception that “life will yield when something happens, but that rarely happens”. This was the case during her creation of Life After Life– her dad was dying, her children still needed her for dinner and other motherly duties, and work was still happening (grading papers and teaching). As she told us this, I began thinking that while we may wish life would slow down and let us deal with things as they happen- life has other plans for us. Life keeps spinning- until your final breath.
When questioned if any characters were based on people she knew in life or not- it was revealed that Toby is based on Jill’s work of teaching Introduction to Fiction. Toby, in the book, tells of how tired she was of reading essays about vampires, werewolves and the like- and that is how Jill felt at one point in her Intro to Fiction class. Jill wanted something with emotion, something with human emotion. So she tried to teach her students that emotion is like a primary box of crayons- but that as they got older, the emotions are more like a 64 pack of crayons- so you might feel periwinkle sometimes. But, at the base of that emotion is the original primary color emotion you felt as a child or teenager.
About Jill’s writing process- she likes to write in same place- but after having children- she realized she had to be more flexible. So she sometimes goes to the grocery store and sits in her car in the parking lot and writes- then later goes grocery shopping! She also takes lots of notes- and just reads them in the morning and evening- then she stores them for a time till she can write for an extended period. In this way, Jill speaks of that she’s always working on something; but it just takes time- and that’s a good thing because it gives her thoughts time to “perk”. Some of Jill’s characters will have memories or thoughts of her friends (after she’s asked!) Lastly Jill spoke of that sometimes when gathering her thoughts about writing, something will cross her mind that seems like it does not fit, like it’s not a logical next step in the process. When this happens, instead of ignoring that thought, she knows it’s meant to be in the thoughts, in her writing process.
Before she began signing books, she told this piece of advice for writers: The first draft of the book is like falling in love; but the revision of the book is the real deal in love.
Thanks Tunrow Books for hosting a great event- and thanks to Jill McCorkle for being so gracious- signing my book and posing for pictures.
My review of Life After Life: Life After Life by Jill McCorkle- review by Traveling With T