Sunday, September 13, 2009

Guest Post: Sallie Day, author of The Palace of Strange Girls (and BBAW Giveaway #1!)

Today I want to welcome Sallie Day, author of The Palace of Strange Girls! I recently received this book and my review is not finished yet, so here is the synopsis from the publisher:

Blackpool, England, 1959. The Singleton family is on holiday. For seven-year-old Beth, just out of the hospital, this means struggling to fill in her 'I-Spy' book and avoiding her mother Ruth's eagle-eyed supervision. Her sixteen-year-old sister Helen, meanwhile, has befriended a waitress whose fun-loving ways hint at a life beyond Ruth's strict rules.

But times are changing. As foreman of the local cotton mill, Ruth's husband, Jack, is caught between unions and owners whose cost-cutting measures threaten an entire way of life. And his job isn't the only thing at risk. When a letter arrives from Crete, a secret re-emerges from the rubble of Jack's wartime past that could destroy his marriage.

As Helen is tempted outside the safe confines of her mother's stern edicts with dramatic consequences, an unexpected encounter inspires Beth to forge her own path. Over the holiday week, all four Singletons must struggle to find their place in the shifting world of promenade amusements, illicit sex, and stilted afternoon teas in this touching and evocative novel.

I'm so excited to have Sallie here today to tell us a little bit about what inspired her book! Welcome, Sallie!!

The idea for the novel sprang from an impromptu trip back to the Lancashire mill town where I was born. During my long absence everything was so changed as to be unrecognizable. The smoking mill chimneys that had once dominated the skyline were no longer standing and Clean Air legislation of the 70s had put an end to the blanket of smog which used to percolate down into the dirty cobbled streets and terraced houses.

I decided on impulse to go on a walk around the mill area of the town (cotton mills, originally dependent on water power were sited beside fast flowing streams and later weaving sheds were built by the canal and within easy reach of rail / road links. The canal tow path had once passed the backs of several weaving sheds but now all the mills were demolished. Only one mill remained standing, and a passing local told me that even this was due for demolition the following week.

I stood and looked at the weaving shed I had known as a child when my father worked there as a manager. Soon I was lost in memories of the late fifties and sixties when the town was busily engaged in importing cotton from Africa and America and exporting finished cotton goods to the rest of the world. From this memory came more - where we lived, what we wore and our annual holidays in Blackpool.

I was still a small child 1959 and so there was a great deal of background reading to do for the novel - and this in turn inspired more and more memories, all bursting to be set down in writing. However I didn’t want to write a biography. I wanted to write a novel. Fiction is an altogether different beast and requires imagination added to a taste for drama.

Jack Singleton may have begun life as a portrait of my father but very soon he became a character in his own right with an exciting war record, and, in the face of an undemonstrative wife, a weakness for a pretty face. My father was very straight laced in comparison! Nevertheless some of the characters were real - Connie was based on a waitress whom I worked with for the whole of one summer. Other characters, among them Tiger Woman and Cora, were total invention. I had no idea where the story would lead me. I put the Singleton family in a relatively plush hotel and stood back to see what they might do next.

I was prepared to take a back seat where the plot was concerned and content to ‘go with the flow’. Each chapter contained some new discovery, not all of them pleasant. I was saddened by Beth’s isolation and illness but I was downright horrified by Jack’s one night stand with an underage waitress. In the end the novel seemed to have written itself - as if it had been there in my subconscious all the time just waiting for an opportunity to surface!

Thank you so much for joining me here today and giving us a peek at the story behind the story!! I'm always interested in the author's inspiration. In celebration of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I have five copies to give away, courtesy of Hachette. To enter, just leave me a comment here that includes your email address. The winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Enter thru midnight eastern on September 18.

There are many giveaways going on this week to celebrate BBAW, I myself will have several more posted as the week goes on. Be sure to check out the complete list at the BBAW website by clicking any of the BBAW links in this post or the button in the upper left corner.


Anonymous said...

The Palace of Strange Girls sounds great! Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks!

bermudaonion said...

Oh, this book sounds so good to me - I'd love to be entered! milou2ster(at)

Susanna A. said...

This book sounds great. Please enter me. peeech79 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Simply Stacie said...

Thanks for the chance.

Pam said...

It sounds like such a great book! I'd love to win it!

melacan at hotmail dot com

kalea_kane said...

The Palace of Strange Girls sounds like a read with a lesson. I would really like to be entered. :) Thanks sooooo much!


Kristen M. said...

This sounds really fascinating! I'm in!

webereading AT gmail dot com.

holdenj said...

Sounds like a great story, set in a time I don't know much about. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

Chloe said...

This sounds really interesting! I'd love to be entered :D


Jem said...

I would like to enter: thereadingjourney[at]gmail[dot]com

KiraR said...

I would like to enter.


KR said...

This sounds great! Thanks!


sharon54220 said...

This definitely sounds like a great book. I would love to be entered.

Thanks for the chance.

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

This book sounds really good, please count me in.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Beth (BBRB) said...

This looks great! Please enter me!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Sarah Johnson said...

I'd love the chance to enter, thanks! I've been hearing such good things about this book. readingthepast (at)

mrsshukra said...

I would like to be entered!


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I'd love to enter (sounds great):

dd DOT bookgoddess AT gmail DOT com


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a winner...count me in.

karen k

Beth F said...

This sounds like a great read! Thanks for offering it. BFish (dot) Reads (at)

Tracey said...

I like books set in this time period.

Kat Bryan said...

I've always been fascinated by and loved stories about New Orleans. The title of this book catches my attention, too.

winterset AT

Minding Spot said...

Sounds like an interesting read!

wendyhines (at) hotmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Sounds wonderful!


traveler said...

I am captivated with this great giveaway. Thanks for this chance. I looks wonderful and unique. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Cherie J said...

Sounds great! Please enter me in the drawing.


renee said...

Sounds goood, please enter me
reneetaylor at sympatico dot ca

cqueen2 said...

sounds great count me in

thanks so much

wadesherry@hotmail dot com

flowerchild said...

please count me in..thanks

Susan said...

This book sounds like it would be so good! Please enter me in the giveaway!

Misusedinnocence said...

I would love to read this, and I follow. :)

Diana said...

Ooh, interesting!!!


Anastasia @ Here There Be Books said...

This seems like a wonderful book! :D I'd like to be entered, please.

herebebooks at gmail dot com

Beth said...

Please enter me. Thanks for the chance.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Unknown said...

I love the story line and thank you for speaking to the author!

Please enter my name in your giveaway!
Thank you =o)

Bingo said...

What a great giveaway...thanks!

kdhaney (AT) gmail ((DOT)) com

Unknown said...

I'd like to enter:)


Belinda M said...

Please include me in your giveaway

Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at


mindy said...

sounds great thanks minsthins at optonline dot net

GoneGirl said...

Oh my gosh! It sounds right up my alley! Thanks so much for the chance!

ralphandtara at gmail dot com

Andrea said...

This sounds great please enter me

D Q said...

Sounds like a great read.
I Would love to add this to my collection.

Jonnie (JB) said...

Great g! Please enter my name for this book.

Abby said...

Sounds fantastic count me in!

ajcmeyer at go dot com

Holly said...


I love the cover art on this!

Unknown said...

Palace of Strange girls sounds wonderful. A definite Must Read!!!

Ellie Wright said...

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway.
eswright18 at gmail dot com

SusanB said...

Sounds like a great book to read! Please enter me in the giveaway.

cherdon said...

The Palace of Strange Girls sounds like it would be really interesting. Love to be entered for a chance to win this book.

Rebecca N. said...

I am so excited about this book! Please count me in to win it! Thanks!

imsosweepy { at } gmail { dot } com

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.