For most writers, a novel begins with a character. For Mindy Friddle, author of â€œThe Garden Angel,â€ that character was a dilapidated, Southern house.
Friddle, a Greenville, S.C. native, spoke to three Lincoln County book clubs at the Lincoln Cultural Center on Wednesday.
She told the crowd that she was inspired to write her novel after seeing an old, elegant home surrounded by a strip mall and fast food restaurants.
â€œJust the really-ruined finery of it all interested me,â€ said Friddle.
After touring the inside of the house and seeing its faded wall paper and claw foot bathtub, Friddle also had an image of her main character â€“ a woman bathing with two cucumbers over her eyes.
â€œI knew she was going to hold on to this house,â€ said Friddle.
This image developed into the bookâ€™s main character, Cutter, who loves the family home and refuses to sell it. Her siblings disagree.
â€œThereâ€™s no way sheâ€™s going to give up without a fight,â€ said Friddle.
The book follows Cutter through her many attempts to discourage the sale of her family home â€“ including setting out a doily made of hair when prospective buyers visit.
The novel also focuses on a developing friendship between Cutter and an agoraphobic, suburban woman who loves Emily Dickinson poetry.
â€œThe pull of home, the sanctuary, unites them in the novel,â€ said Friddle.
This is Friddleâ€™s first novel. Prior to becoming a published author, she worked as a reporter. She finds fiction suits her better.
â€I was never that good in facts as a reporter,â€ she said.
A wife and a mother of a 15-year-old, she had to sneak time to write â€œThe Garden Angel.â€ She began the book at the age of 30, which she thinks is the perfect time.
â€œYou need life experience,â€ she said.
Eight years later, the hardback version was published. The paperback will be in print this June.
Since the novel was published, Friddleâ€™s life has taken a hectic turn.
â€œI was up since 4:30 this morning,â€ she said.
She came to Lincolnton from Texas, where she was speaking to another book club.
â€œIâ€™m convinced that (book clubs) are the underpinning, the infrastructure, of reading in this country,â€ she said.
She loves speaking to groups, but finds it to be quite a switch from writing.
â€œItâ€™s sort of an isolated thing, writing,â€ she said.
After this book tour, however, sheâ€™ll be happy to go back to working on her second novel.
â€œIn the late summer, Iâ€™ll be glad to burrow back in,â€ she said.
Mindy Friddle, an author from Greenville, S.C., read for three Lincoln County book clubs on Wednesday. Friddle is currently touring to promote her first novel. Chris Dean / Lincoln Times-News
by Sarah Grano