Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Route 66: The Mother Road to Self-Discovery: An interview with PC Zick

Today I'm talking with PC Zick about her road trip novel of self-discovery, Live from the Road.


1) Please tell us about your book.

Live from the Road takes the reader on an often humorous, yet harrowing, journey as Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane routine of their lives. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road. Along the way, they are joined by a Chicago bluesman, a Pakistani liquor storeowner from Illinois, a Marine from Missouri, a gun-toting momma from Oklahoma, and a motel clerk from New Mexico. Meg, mourning for her dead son, learns to share her pain with her daughter CC. When Sally’s husband of almost thirty years leaves a voice mail telling her he’s leaving, both Sally and her daughter Ramona discover some truths about love and independence.

Death, divorce and deception help to reveal the inner journey taking place under the blazing desert sun as a Route 66 motel owner reads the Bhagavad-Gita and an eagle provides the sign they’ve all been seeking. Enlightenment comes tiptoeing in at dawn in a Tucumcari laundromat, while singing karaoke at a bar in Gallup, New Mexico, and during dinner at the Roadkill CafĂ© in Seligman, Arizona. The four women’s lives will never be the same after the road leads them to their hearts – the true destination for these road warriors.

2) Please tell us about your main characters. 

The narrator is Meg, a fifty-something divorced mother of two. She's a self-described curmudgeon who must face the death of her son. She didn't know it would happen on this trip. Her best friend is Sally, married mother of two - same age. Sally's husband leaves her in a voice mail while they're on the journey. CC is Meg's daughter. She's a musician who sings her way across the country in karaoke bars. Ramona is Sally's daughter and CC's best friend. She has her own secrets which are revealed on this journey. Each of the women change during the trip and make major decisions about their respective lives when it's all over.

3) What is it about the road trip, and Route 66 for that matter, that resonates so well with Americans?

Route 66 represents change and adventure for many people. It follows the path of the Trail of Tears, and the dust bowl victims in the 1930s also traveled this road. Its legend grew along with its roadside kitsch when authors such as Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck began writing about it. Travel is the opportunity for us to step outside of our worlds. We can be completely different people once we hit the road and leave our comfort zones. I think that's why it's so appealing.

4) You have a rich cast of characters and locations in your book. Were any these inspired by real places or people?

The locations are all real and most of them I visited on my own Route 66 journey in 2007. The characters were inspired by people I met along the way and each time I met one of them, I knew someone was trying to tell me to write a novel about a trip down the Mother Road.

5) What are the fundamental themes your book explores?

The book stresses the importance of communicating our deepest feelings. The plot explores the relationship between parents and children and the complications that arise when emotions are kept bottled up inside. We are fearful of hurting others or bothering them when in fact we hurt them the most when we aren't honest with them.

6) You left a career as a teacher to become a full-time writer. What went into that decision?

I'd lost my love of teaching after seventeen years. I kept wondering what else I knew how to do and the answer kept coming back to writing. While still teaching, I began picking up freelance work for local papers and publications. After one year of freelancing, I realized I'd made $5,000 just for writing in my spare time. I approached the editor of the local newspaper, and he said he'd hire me full time anytime I was ready. I went to my principal and told him I'd be leaving at the end of the school year. That was June 2001, and I've never looked back. I've made my living as a writer or editor ever since.

7) Please tell us about some of your other work.

I've published four other books. Three of them are novels and one is nonfiction. Currently, I'm finishing the second draft of another novel, Trails in the Sand. Again, I come back to the theme of families. In this one, the family must go back several generations to heal the wounds inflicted years ago. In the background, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the environment. It explores the process of being able to recover and heal after destruction to create a peaceful future. I hope to have it finished by the fall.


Thanks, P.C.

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