Title: Annalisa’s Highway Blues
Author: David Reichart
Page count: about 50,000 words
Genre: Romantic Comedy
(I’ve been a soldier, newspaper reporter, photographer, managing freelance copywriter, insurance agent, auto repair service adviser, truck driver–your basic English major. I’ve been writing some sort or fiction on the side nearly all of my adult life while expending most of my energy on daytime jobs in order to make a living. I started sending query letters about my novels to agents and publishers, gave up, started writing screenplays, managed to get an agent in Los Angeles and one on New York, (both during writers strikes) but was always low man on the totem pole. I did option one screenplay on my own, though. Eventually, the people in Hollywood pretty much flat out quit responding to query letters. I didn’t quit writing but gave up on the idea of marketing my material to strangers through the mail from Mobile, Alabama.
Last December (2010), during my annual eye exam, the doctor said, “How’s the book coming?” I don’t remember what I said, but I remember what he said. He told me that he had bought a Kindle, loved it, as did several of his friends. He told me that ebooks, were exploding across the internet, revolutionizing the publishing industry and that I should look into it. I did, he was right, and now I have my first novel published, with many more to follow. I remember telling my wife I couldn’t decide if I should postition my chapter headings with plenty of spacing before the first paragraph, or have them flush left, just above the first line like some I’d seen. Then I realized something exhilarating. It was up to me. I had control, and nobody was going to “count off” if I didn’t follow particular guidelines. Wow.
Tell us about your book:
Annalisa Rochon, a beautiful but inexperienced small-town girl, reluctantly enters the male-dominated world of long-haul trucking where she finds danger, loneliness, hard work and something completely unexpected out on the road–the kind of romance she had always dreamed of.
Ex-Marine Mike Cindik, who has recently been drawn into the high-stakes corporate world by his father, a wealthy industrialist, is absolutely captivated by this exotic, strange-talking, truck driving Louisiana girl, and he pursues her with great difficulty and determination (guilt and fear, too, since he’s engaged to a very influential and manipulative debutante).
Annalisa is pretty but humble, with traditional family values and a naughty streak. She’s vulnerable, naive, easily frustrated and not very confident, but deep down she has the guts of a warrior. It’s a story about having the courage to do what you know in your heart needs to be done, no matter how difficult or scary…and trusting the outcome to faith (or fate).
How long did it take to write the book?
About six months, plus another three months for revisions.
What inspired you to write the book?
One day, when I was an over-the-road truck driver, I was inside a huge warehouse delivering a load of ceiling tile from my flatbed trailer. There was another truck in there, driven by an attractive young women. We were both rolling up our wet tarps on the concrete floor. I was conflicted, owing to my upbringing and the changing social culture. Should I offer to help, or not. I did, and she politely declined, saying, “That’s okay. It’s my job.”
Truck drivers have a lot of time to think, and as I hauled on down the road that day, I kept thinking about that attractive young lady truck driver. What was her background, what caused her to take on a job that I knew only too well was a difficult and often dangerous one, and what was her life like now. Annalisa’s Highway Blues answers those questions (in my mind, anyway).
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
This story, as it reveals the world of long-haul truck driving, was painstakingly researched, as I mentioned above. My routine was all over the map–jot down notes, grab time to write when I could. Finally, when I was able to be home every day, I found the time to write the novel. But I was still a truck driver, and I still had to grab an hour here, two hours there.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope they enjoy the story and wear themselves out pulling for Annalisa. It’s a light, straightforward, rather quick read, but one that I think will touch a nerve or two.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Vicki Tyley is a fantastic new writer who has been called the Australian P.D. James. She was kind enough to feature Annalisa’s Highway Blues on her blog. If you like complex, multi-layered, mysteries with riveting psychological drama, you should get to know Vicki Tyley’s work.
Excerpt from book:
When she came back in about a half hour later, Mike was lying on the bed, watching television. Annalisa made a point of locking the door behind her.
“How did it go?” Mike asked.
“Back on the road tomorrow,” she said.
“Another hot load. I’d like to get one that was only luke warm, just once.”
“What about the guy?”
“A few cuts, nothing serious.”
“I guess there was quite a bit of blood, so they called an ambulance. But they patched him up on the spot.”
“Well, that’s…a relief.”
“Yeah, but his buddies are still out there looking for you.”
Annalisa sank wearily into a chair at the little table near the window. With SportsCenter over, Mike aimed the remote and began to surf channels. “Thank god we have this place,” he said.
He rolled his pillow-propped head toward her and studied her for a moment. “I’ll pay for it, of course.”
“You don’t have to do that, but tell that—person!—at your company that she cost me a hundred and eighty dollars on that load I’m under.”
“I’ll pay for that, too.”
Annalisa offered an “ooh-la-la” gesture which went unnoticed as Mike eagerly flipped channels, finally selecting an old Beevus and Butthead episode. “All right!” he exclaimed, turning to her with a quick smile and then happily scooting to one side of the bed.
Annalisa stared at him in disbelief. “I’m not going to get on the bed with you!” she announced.
Mike laughed a little laugh of superiority. “You really are a Southern girl, aren’t you? Propriety or death.”
“The hell with propriety. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to get on a bed with a strange man.”
“I’m not a strange man,” he smiled. Then he laughed out loud at a Beevus and Butthead scene. Annalisa rolled her eyes. Mike looked up, catching her. Then he turned a way for a few seconds with a more serious, thoughtful expression before fixing her with an eager gaze. “Let me ask you this,” he began. “Could we watch television together in a reclined position–say, out in the parking lot?”
She thought about it for a second. “Sure,” she said. “But you’d get your ass kicked.”
Mike was taken aback and a bit deflated. “You sure talk like a truck driver,” he said.
Annalisa found herself unexpectedly embarrassed. “What do you mean?” she responded. “You can say ‘ass’ in prime time now.”
“True,” Mike said, thoughtfully. “So, how about it? If there was a T.V. in the parking lot, and no truckers, could we watch it together, side by side?”
“Not lying down,” she said.
A knowing smile crept across his face. “You really don’t trust me, do you?”
“I trust you,” she said. “For a typical conceited, know-it-all Yankee, you seem to have acquired a pretty good sense of right and wrong.”
“Oh, okay!” Mike said, eagerly. “You don’t trust yourself!”
She gave him a look of mock disgust, stood up from her chair and hopped onto the bed beside him. They turned their heads toward each other, Mike smiling and Annalisa challenging him with her eyes.
“Down in Tetagouche, we’d be engaged now,” she announced.