True love never dies – or so Amos Hargrove, a brave Civil War soldier who lost his beloved before they could marry, still believes. His spirit, some say, pervades the town he founded and named for his sweet fair-haired young beauty. In Finley, dreams come true, love blossoms, and second chances are unearthed. Is Amos’s spirit truly at work, granting wishes as he continues to search for his own love? Does his unfulfilled desire continue to have influence on those who call Finley home? What will it take to finally unite two souls meant to be together?
Forever Finley is a collection of stand-alone yet interconnected short stories; when read cover to cover, the stories build like chapters in a novel. As a whole, Forever Finley explores the many facets of love – whether that love takes the form of friendship, romance, or passion for one’s life calling. These warm, uplifting, often magical tales detail loss and perseverance, the strength of the human spirit, and the ability of love to endure…forever.
Today, I’m back with Holly Schindler to talk about her short story cycle, FOREVER FINLEY. Yesterday we talked about the process of writing and indie publishing a new short story each month, and today we’re digging into the stories Holly tells.
COURTNEY: I read the stories as you released them each month, and I have to say that they were perfect for 2016 because they felt so gentle in what was not, in many ways, a gentle time. Finley didn’t feel like it was really part of this world—in a good way. Is Finley based on any real place? (True Confessions: Our family photographer has her studio on the town square in a little town called Metamora, Illinois, and the first time I saw the town square, I said, “That’s Finley!” So Metamora plays Finley in my head.)
I love that description of the series feeling gentle. I really hope that readers continue to have that feeling in 2017.
As far as the setting goes, I live in Springfield, MO—third largest city in the state, home of Springfield Style Cashew Chicken and Brad Pitt. But it’s also got a real small town feel—and it’s surrounded by little towns (Ozark, Fair Grove) with old-fashioned small town squares. I did have Ozark, MO in my head quite a bit when I depicted the Finley town square. There’s even a river that runs through Ozark called Finley. I take my dog to walk at the Finley River Park quite a bit—and had that area in my head when I wrote about Founders Park in Finley.
Springfield also has a National Cemetery that I had in my mind’s eye from the very beginning, when I wrote “Come December.” It’s right across the street from an apartment building—just as Finley’s National Cemetery is located near Natalie’s apartment complex. You can see more in my short video: https://vimeo.com/165715421
COURTNEY: So now we know where Finley’s name comes from! FOREVER FINLEY touches a lot of genres, including historical fiction, contemporary fiction, ghost stories, magical realism, new adult, boomer lit. And you’ve written in a lot of those genres, so FOREVER FINLEY brings all that together. How would you classify it? Are there any books or other stories that particularly influenced the book?
I really love stories with a strong sense of local color—any story in which the setting feels like a character (I even love the way the café in Flagg’s FRIED GREEN TOMATOES feels like a character). That was a big part of putting this book together. I’m also an old lit major, and was surely influenced by those Victorian classics that were initially serialized.
I think one of my favorite parts of FOREVER FINLEY is that there’s no one right way to read it. As I was writing it in 2016, I felt that each story, while connected to the others, had to truly stand on its own. (That way, readers who discovered the July story on Amazon wouldn’t feel lost when they purchased it.) Now that the stories are all collected into one volume, you certainly can read cover to cover. But you can also read the stories out of order—the same way you skip around an album, listening to random songs, even returning to the same song several times before moving on. For those who’d like to bounce around rather than reading straight through, I’ve included a detailed table of contents at the beginning of the book, which allows you to get a glimpse of what each story is about.
Courtney: I love making connections between art forms, so comparing the cycle to an album is right up my alley. What else would you like readers to know about FOREVER FINLEY?
I’ve just revamped the cover of the series. I liked the first cover—I think it spoke to the historical element of the book—but it wasn’t as mysterious, romantic, or intriguing as it could have been. To celebrate the book’s new “skin,” I’m giving away a review copy of the series to one lucky reader—either e-book (it’s listed in KU, so it’s only available in Kindle form) or paperback. To enter, shoot me an email at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.
You can also check out FINLEY and all my other works at my Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Holly-Schindler/e/B003E3TJ7U
Or visit my author site: HollySchindler.com
Courtney: Thanks for being here, Holly! If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll either enter Holly’s contest or check out FOREVER FINLEY on her Amazon page.