Mick Peluso is the author of …And the Whippoorwill Sang—an outstanding memoir:
“Micki Peluso takes readers along on her journey through life as she deals with the tragedy of the imminent death of one of her six children in a story that will bring tears—not only of immeasurable sadness—but also those wonderful tears of the joys and hilarity of a family’s life. As I traveled with Micki along life’s highway and byways, I not only met her wonderful family and friends, I felt like I was one of them. That’s what I call great writing! From antics to dilemmas, you won’t want to miss out on the laughter, the love, the sorrows, the courage or the tears as Peluso poignantly weaves a well-written memoir that will not be forgotten in AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG.” ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator
Let’s get ready to meet Micki
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to an outstanding author; and once you’ve met her, I invite you to grab a copy of her book and get reading. You’ll be glad you did!
Hi, Micki. I’m delighted to have you with us on 4writersandreaders today. I absolutely loved …And the Whippoorwill Sang. I can hardly wait to learn more about you and your memoir and to find out what you’re up to now. To start, tell us a little about yourself.
I almost wanted to be a ‘Super Hero’ as a child, save the world and help people; perhaps as a missionary or Peace Corps worker in Third World countries. Plans for that and college collapsed along with my parents’ divorce. Instead my ‘Marilyn Monroe’ type mother talked my boyfriend and me into eloping in our teens with her and her new boyfriend. Get lemons, make lemonade. We went on to have six children and 10 grandchildren and now three great grandkids and I have become a ‘Soupy Hero,’ according to one small grandson referring to my medicinal chicken soup.
How about your family?
My husband and I (mostly me) raised six children, each a year or two apart. He came from a large family which I loved. Our kids were our life and because I kept journals off and on, it gave me lots of fodder for a writing career. It was in the late 1950s through to the mid-eighties before most of them were grown . . . Except for one, our 14-year-old daughter Noelle, the lively, comical beauty that wove the fabric of our family together, who was killed by a drunk (DWI) driver in 1981.
How long have you been writing and what type of writing do you normally do?
Like many writers I started with poems and did a lot of creative writing throughout school. With so many kids, I put away most writing until Noelle was killed. As a family of eight we were so shocked and devastated that none of us could speak of her. I turned to writing as a way of expressing my grief. I wrote a short story of the incident which was published by Victimology; an International Journal, along with several poems. That led to slice of life, usually humorous stories about my family, which were published in my daily newspaper. I then became a staff writer and journalist for our biweekly newspaper, writing news items, analysis, interviews and commentary.
Can you give us a brief synopsis of “…And the Whippoorwill Sang”?
This lively story opens with eloping teenagers, Micki and Butch, in a bizarre double ceremony with Micki’s mother. The couple share wonderfully comical escapades spanning decades, until tragedy strikes. There has been a terrible accident in the placid valley nestled in the Susquehanna Mountains in the town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It occurs just blocks away from the family’s 100 year old farmhouse, complete with ghosts and visiting varmints of all varieties. Micki narrates happier days, using their delightful past to confront an uncertain future—as the family copes with fear and apprehension. One of their children is fighting for life in the hospital; in a semi-coma, hovering between this world and the next. The family embarks upon an unbearable journey to the other side of grief and grasps the poignant gift of life as they begin . . .
To weep . . .
To Laugh . . .
To Grieve . . .
To Dance . . .
. . . And the Whippoorwill Sang
What prompted you to write your memoir?
It was five years after the tragedy when I began the first half of my book, a funny, bittersweet family story, celebrating Noelle’s life and keeping my deathbed promise to her as she lay dying. I was mentored by Bonnie Golightly, a Writer’s Digest teacher who had been part of the ‘Truman Capote crowd’ in her younger days. She wrote a famous best-selling novel plus scripts for several films and other novels. Life dealt another blow and I nearly died from two heart attacks leaving me with half a heart, while Bonnie contracted lung cancer which quickly took her life. The book was on hold until 2006 when I was able to break through the PTSD memory blocks of the times right before Noelle’s death.
Do you have a favorite line from the book?
I have two favorite lines from the book, one funny yet an omen of what was to come, and one which ties into the book’s title.
Noelle and her sister Kelly had just spent all their babysitting money on clothing and planned to go for a bike ride. Noelle had put all the clothes that she purchased on at the same time. Kelly was shocked and asked her what in the world she was doing. Noelle replied that she couldn’t make up her mind. Kelly told her she should be saving her them for a special day. “I think every day is special,” Noelle replied.
The other favorite line was written shortly after Noelle’s death:
“The Whippoorwill swooped down the mountains into the trees singing its mournful dirge of summer’s loss, even as I cried mine.’”
Who is your favorite character and why?
My favorite characters were my children and while I could not love one more than the other each is a different type of love. A firstborn child’s holds a special place in a mother’s heart and the last child, the baby of the family also holds a special place. Different personalities among the children also cause different types of bonding, yet the love for each of them is love for all of them. It’s common and normal to idolize a lost family member and I tried hard not to do that in this book.
What was the hardest part about writing your book?
I began the story from the ICU waiting room and flashed back to when I eloped at age 17. I placed short pieces in the ICU in first person, exposing my fears and heartache up until the past merged into the present. These chapters in ICU were the hardest to write along with the ending — both of which I kept as short as possible. Actually the book ends on a good note as something special happens—something sent as a gift from Noelle.
Do you do anything besides write?
Well, I do a fairly good Elvis imitation :). Seriously, I work part time as a law assistant for Kelly, who became the attorney that Noelle had dreams of becoming when she grew up. I helped raise most of my 10 grandkids and I’m still with my husband after 50 years—a herculean feat. For the past three decades I’ve been writing and publishing short fiction, hoping to stretch one into a novel. I do professional book reviews for NYJB (New York Journal of Books) and freelance reviews. My book has won the Nesta Silver Award for Character building, 3rd place on Predator’s and Editors and 1st place in the monthly People’s Choice Awards. Many of my short stories have been published in several book collections and anthologies, including The Speed of Dark which won an International Award for fine writing.
How can our readers get a copy of your book?
My book . . . And the Whippoorwill sang is available at Amazon for Kindle and tablets for $2.99 and in print at a newly reduced rate of $12.25; it is also available for purchase or order from your favorite book store. Signed copies can be purchased directly from me or I can mail a signed bookplate to readers ordering from Amazon or other venues.
What’s next on the writing agenda for Micki Peluso?
My current WIP (Work in Progress) is a collection of humorous slice-of-life, short fiction and non-fiction essays and scattered poems, in a book called Don’t Pluck the Duck, to be released in 2015. My publisher has also accepted a children’s book called The Cat Who Wanted a Dog, also due by the end of this year. Tales@Inspire has accepted four short stories, plus several more by Creature Features and one by Women’s Memoirs. And then there’s that novel beckoning . . . sigh.
Micki, it’s been a delight having you here for an author chat at 4writersandreaders. I would love to get a signed bookplate for my copy of “…And the Whippoorwill Sang”; and, I can’t wait to get my hands on your next book!
- Readers: Micki and I would love to have you stop by the comment section below for a chat. I hope you’ll ‘run out’ or ‘click away’ and order you copy of …And the Whippoorwill Sang. You’ll be glad you did.
Happy reading and writing, friends! ~Bette A. Stevens