Today I'm pleased to have author Shalanda Stanley stopping by to chat a little bit about her debut novel, Drowning Is Inevitable. She was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about her characters, New Orleans and who she'd call if she found herself in a tough spot, so I hope you all enjoy the interview. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Shalanda!
As a quick introduction to this story, how would the newspaper headline (or the first line of the TV news broadcast) read the morning after the tragic events between Olivia, Jamie and his father?
First line of the TV news broadcast:
Four teenagers, wanted in connection with the death of a forty-six-year-old St. Francisville man, are missing.
If each of the four main characters could magically wish themselves into the world of any piece of fiction in order to get away from the dark new reality of their lives, what book would each of them choose as an escape?
Olivia would choose the book Peter Pan. Olivia has no idea what the future holds and at the beginning of the book, she cannot imagine life after eighteen. She doesn’t tolerate the question, “What do you want to be when you grown up?” Olivia would want to escape to Neverland, where she and her friends would always be together and always stay the same.
I think Jamie would like to be on a perpetual road trip, one where he wasn’t running from anything. I believe he would escape to Kerouac’s On the Road. That way, the four of them would be free to travel coast to coast and have adventures, the kind that you know are important when you’re living them, but don’t realize how much so until you’re older.
Max wants an adventure story where he plays the lead and gets the girl at the end. He’d definitely choose The Princess Bride.
Maggie doesn’t read anything published after 1976, because she believes “Nothing current is original,” so her book-world escape would be to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The images in Alice’s Wonderland are so visceral that you can almost see the paint dripping off the page. This would appeal to the artist in Maggie. She’d love the idea that she could paint her world the way she wants it to be.
Jamie, Olivia, Max, and Maggie head to New Orleans when they’re forced on the run. What are a few places the city has to offer that would make ideal spots to hide in plain sight and blend in?
There are so many places in New Orleans to hide in plain sight: the Riverwalk, the French Quarter, Audubon Park, any place downtown. The sidewalks are alive with people and musicians. There’s so much noise in New Orleans. It’s an ideal spot to be lost.
If you ever found yourself with a seemingly unfixable problem, what fictional character would you call on for help?
Can I call on an author instead? Judy Blume answered so many of my life questions when I was growing up. Anytime I hit a bump or felt a growing pain, my mom would hand me the Judy Blume book that went with it, and Judy always made things better. In my mind, she’s this sage who’d definitely be able to help me find a solution to my problem.
Though Olivia’s journey in this story is difficult, what is one thing she would say the events of Drowning Is Inevitable has taught her about herself?
She learns how strong she is and that she’s her own person, not just an extension of her parents, her mother especially. She is the fate decider, and even though there is a worn path already laid out for her, she learns that she doesn’t have to go down it.
Thanks so much for answering my questions Shalanda!
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DROWNING IS INEVITABLE
Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,” shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.
In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.
Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?
Buy Drowning Is Inevitable: