1920s Southern historical fiction novel addresses the mystery of tragedy and the possibility of redemption
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nashville, TN – Annette Valentine’s debut novel opens with the spotlight on a young man in transition at a time in history when men longed for adventure and aspired for something greater than themselves. This multidimensional story confronts bold theological concerns and existential worries, all while providing a compelling narrative about waywardness, grace, and returning home.
A novel blending Southern historical fiction with a classic bildungsroman foundation, “Eastbound From Flagstaff” portrays an individual who comes to recognize the significance of family, loyalty, and the richness of heritage. Simon Hagan is running from a lie, intent on believing his own efforts and perseverance can overcome anything. He abandons roots that offer him strength and hides behind his charm, living every moment as if life’s daring him to fail―again. He’s reckoning with his father’s God who could have delivered better outcomes for him in his youth but didn’t.
The first installment in an epic trilogy that begins in the 1920s, “Eastbound from Flagstaff” follows Simon’s return to the notion of forgiveness. This proves to be the catalyst for a new beginning as Simon reconnects with the place he once thought was an impossible dream.
“A wonderful read, a well-fought redemption story.”
– Darrell Waltrip, author, American motorsports analyst, and former racing driver
Annette Valentine: Annette is an inspirational storyteller with a flair for the unexpected. By age eleven, she knew that writing was an integral part of her creative nature. Annette graduated with distinction from Purdue and founded an interior design firm which spanned a 34-year career in Lafayette, Indiana and Brentwood, Tennessee. Annette has used her 18-year affiliation with Toastmasters International to prepare her for her position with the Speakers’ Bureau for End Slavery Tennessee and is an advocate for victims and survivors of human trafficking and is the volunteer group leader for Brentwood, Tennessee. Annette writes through the varied lens of colorful personal experience and the absorbing reality of humanity’s search for meaning. Mother to one son and daughter, and a grandparent of six amazing kids, Annette now lives in Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and their 5-year-old Boxer. To learn more about Annette’s life and work, please visit https://annettehvalentine.com
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Eastbound from Flagstaff”
Annette Valentine | September 17, 2019 | Morgan James
Paperback ISBN: 9781642793345 | Price: $18.95
Historical Fiction / Inspirational Fiction
In an interview, ANNETTE VALENTINE can discuss:
* The tradition of Southern fiction that her writing converses with
* The research she conducted when composing this story
* The theological and philosophical aspects of her book
* Her passion for justice including the work she does to end sex trafficking and modern day slavery, and how her writing is connected to her desire to help others
* Where the second book in this series will take readers
An Interview with ANNETTE VALENTINE
“Eastbound from Flagstaff” takes place in the 1920s. What research did you undergo about the time period?
The activities of the Mafia played a significant role in the protagonist’s life for the several years that he spent in Detroit, as did Prohibition, so research for these details of his life as a policeman was important for me to understand. Immigration, prejudice, dress/fashion/stylishness of the era, the production and use of automobiles, train travel, farming, sharecropping—all flavored the backdrop for the story and therefore had me spending many hours honing juicy information about them.
This novel succeeds in many ways – as historical fiction, inspirational fiction, and a bildungsroman story – but there is also a Southern element to the tale. Where do you find your Southern flair comes from?
Having spent my youth in Kentucky and Tennessee seems to have laid a rather fluffy foundation for being a Southern gal, but let’s point a finger at my mother. I’d have to say she was the essence of “South of the Mason-Dixon influence” with all the teacups and linen tablecloths to prove it. From her girls’ school experiences to those of having chosen for herself a path through genteel and glorious ambitions, my mother must get the credit for pressing her only daughter into something of a Southern biscuit with a quintessential dollop of jam.
The main character in “Eastbound From Flagstaff” is very complex and many readers have noted that they resonate with him. What was it like composing Simon as a mosaic of many different traits, longings, and impulses?
Simon Hagan’s life is based on my father’s life, so my search for the man that I obviously did not know in the 1920s led me to discover the roots of his sacrifice, the depth of his morality, and the breadth of responsibilities that he took very seriously. In many ways, composing Simon was like writing a song, in other ways similar to exploring King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Although I, of course, did not personally do that, I did get to visit the exhibit that held the unearthed magnificence of the life of a man from the past, and decipher for myself the thrill of envisioning “how it was—when he was.”
You do a lot of work with End Slavery Tennessee. Is it fair to say that this same impulse to help others is present in your writing career? Do you believe writing and reading can be a mode of freedom?
Definitely. I am not able to separate myself from—nor am I trying to— the belief that every person deserves a second chance. A thought-provoking Bible verse says, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” So yes, wanting to inspire others is an integral part of my writing. And yes to the second part of your question. It’s cathartic to go beneath the surface and unravel the tangles.
What do you hope readers will take away from this novel?
Hope and perseverance are the 2 most powerful words I want to embed in my readers’ minds. There are lots of choices of books to read; many don’t seem to do much to uplift us or give us encouragement for living. I believe Eastbound From Flagstaff is a brisk walk through heavy-duty trials with a redeeming verdict. Simon had to learn to forgive himself, and that meant learning to love life—even when he couldn’t control it.
This is the first book in a series. Where will this saga lead readers next?
Inspiration is an interesting thing—it was for me, anyway. The catalyst for Eastbound From Flagstaff was born out of one specific comment from an editor upon reading the first draft (of what will ultimately become the third book in the trilogy). The editor said, “Simon seems like a jerk to me.” The experiences of one individual—a dreamer, an actor, a tough character, a serious man—direct a lens on loving and losing and loving again. Simon embraced the unfailing, unfaltering truth of discovering a life worth living. In the next novel, readers will be immersed in the outcomes of two distinctly different patriarchal influences and embark on a world of injustice and the death-grip of immorality, lies, and war.