I’m delighted to welcome Joanne C. Hillhouse to Linda’s Book Bag today because Joanne has agreed to stay in with me to chat about a book the title of which appeals to me as much as any other title I’ve come across!
Staying in with Joanne C. Hillhouse
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Joanne and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings (Insomniac Press, Canada)
I brought this one because the first half is a novella which is a beautiful love story. It was out of print for a time and with this edition it’s back in print, only I don’t think people fully realize. I had someone tell me recently they tried to get it but it was out of print, only to figure out that they were referring to the indeed out of print first edition, a novella published with Macmillan, UK.
This Insomniac anniversary edition is the original story and some extras including honest to God fan fiction. It may have undersold, may still be underselling but several people have told me it’s their favourite thing I’ve written. I mean who doesn’t love a good love story, right?
Of course, it’s more than that but people, those who read it, really seemed to respond to these characters; I still get mail about it. In fact, one time I was televising a book club discussion to promote another of my books and one person got on the mic to declare Dancing Nude in the Moonlight their favourite book by me. That said, given that it hasn’t had the promotional push of my other books, I think potential new readers might not be aware that it’s gettable in ebook and print edition. So I wanted to bring it out of the house to meet people, re-introduce itself so to speak. Also the second half is a range of my short fiction and poetry, most previously published but never collected, so it gives a sense of the scope of my writing.
What can we expect from an evening in with Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings?
In the excerpt below, the main characters, Michael who has been courting Selena and Selena who has been in but out, start to understand each other a little bit, and it begins with Michael griping about his mother:
“She bitter, Selena. She’s the most bitter woman I know, and she been that way long as I’ve known her.”
Selena felt a strange kinship with his mother, this woman she’d never met.
“I can understand that. Sometimes…,” and she paused and smiled, “well, until recently, I thought we existed for men to husk out and throw away. I’ve seen it happen with my mother. When my father took off, she was left with the three of us. Leaving was never an option for her. Then she got married again. And the man was good to her. He stayed around, you know. Gave her two boys. Provided for all of them. They had a home, better than a lot of other people.
“But I remember resenting him anyway, because it was like she got swallowed up by him. Things she never used to do, like smoke, she did because he did. Things she used to do, like go to church, she stopped, because he didn’t. And it happened so subtly, you almost couldn’t notice it.
“She’s a good, capable woman, but her life became about the men in her life; first her new husband, then the boys.
“And then my experience with Victor. I know how love, if it’s love, can eat you up. Somehow, it don’t ever seem to eat up the men, you know. It can make a woman bitter.”
A feeling of melancholy had settled over her, and he pulled her in close, still leaning against the railing. He kissed her lips lightly, put on a teasing smile. “I wish I could say I identify. But till now, I never been in love. And I have to tell you: it not nothing but sweet.”
And she found herself smiling in return.
(What a perfect flavour of the book Joanne.)
What else have you brought along and why?
I brought along pictures from one of my favourite nights ever. To underscore the love this book has gotten in spite of being my poorest performing book in print, a local bookstore (the Best of Books) a few years ago held a street fair (the Moonlight Street Fair) dedicated to it. I’m in the Caribbean and it was a Caribbean hot summer night and yet the street was buzzing.
Looking back on that night – a night of dancing (in keeping with the Dancing in the title) and a Moonlight Samba drink created by a local bartender (I think I got the name right; there was a Moonlight in the name in keeping with the book’s title) – I may not have all the money in the world but I have been blessed. The night included reading, book discussion, and just people mixing and mingling, and having a good time. It was like a party for my book and I didn’t have anything to do with planning it.
(It looks a fabulous evening.)
An award was given for a ‘Next Chapter’ writing contest – this contest was in response to readers’ request for more (that’s one of the popular responses I’ve gotten to the book, people asking for the next chapter) and this Next Chapter is one of a couple of pieces of fan fiction (yay, I have fan fiction) included in the revised edition of Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. The publishing industry is what it is but Dancing Nude in the Moonlight which has its second act and receives so much love in the little circle it occupies is a reminder that unlike bread a good story never goes stale. So, I’m just hoping more readers will discover, as we know well in the Caribbean, that Dancing is fun.
I hope so too Joanne. Thank you for staying in with me to tell me all about Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. I wish both you and the book every success.
Dancing Nude in the Moonlight
Young Dominican single mother Selena Cruz is trying to make a new life for herself in Antigua, dealing with prejudice, poverty, and her interfering sister. When she meets handsome cricket coach Michael Lindo, her world is turned upside down.
The course of true love is never smooth, and Michael and Selena’s story is no exception as they try to bridge the gap between their two cultures and their personal expectations of love. Romantic and delightful, this novella by Joanne C. Hillhouse looks at immigration and cross-cultural relationships in a warm and very human way.
Dancing Nude in the Moonlight was first published in 2004, and it is reissued here along with selected poems and stories from Joanne C. Hillhouse’s wide collection of work.
Published by Insomniac Press, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight is available for purchase here.
About Joanne C. Hillhouse
Antiguan and Barbudan Joanne C. Hillhouse is the author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, and Oh Gad! She freelances as a writer and editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator. She founded the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize programme to nurture and showcase the literary arts in her home country.
You can find Joanne on Facebook.