Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Susan Crandall, author of Whistling Past The Graveyard at TurnRow Books in Greenwood. Funny, charming, and kind enough to pose for a picture, Susan’s book signing was a good one. She had a nice crowd, and was chock-full of stories about her book, writing, and other things.
Whistling Past The Graveyard is Susan Crandall’s 10th book, however, it is her first book published in hardcover. A book that made several reading lists, and was highly publicized for being a book to read for book clubs, fans of The Help or several Southern books- “Whistling” is no stranger to praise- even making TurnRow’s Top 20 list.
Susan began talking about Whistling Past the Graveyard happened- and it happened quite by accident. She started writing a suspense novel, but because she kept hearing a little girl’s voice- she quit that and decided to listen to the girl. The girl, who we all know and love, is Starla.
“Writing about a character that is so unlike you is usually a hard thing”, Susan confides to the crowd as we listened intently. But with “Whistling”, she did not feel this problem- even though in past, she might would have inserted parts of herself into the character- but with Starla, the little spit-fire, she felt content to let Starla be Starla.
One of the audience members asked “Why did you choose Mississippi as the background for the book?” Susan Crandall replied, “I know about Mississippi. The story line worked for Mississippi.” Part of the reason “Whistling” was based in 1960’s was not so much because of the Civil Rights movement, but more because Susan needed a time frame for this story before things such as Code Adam and Amber Alerts- as that Starla runs away, and a later time frame, she would have to allow for things of that nature.
Whistling Past The Graveyard is potentially being considered to be made into a movie- and when asked more about a cast, Susan says she does not have a cast in mind. However, because of her disappointment over The Thorn Birds mini-series (in the movie Meggie has different colored hair than the book)- Susan tried to keep her characters looks vague as possible.
Questioned about the person she would love to meet in history and Susan just smiled for a bit, and said “Normally, I have trouble with these type of questions. But I’ve decided it would be Mark Twain”.
To read my review of Whistling Past The Graveyard, visit here.