After Roy, 46, graduated from Kansas State University, she became an accountant for Hallmark Cards. However, when she relocated with her husband, William Roy, to Florida, she decided to pursue another career. "I decided to set about writing, something that I did have success in when I was in school. It's just when it came time to get a college degree, it never occurred to me that I'd make a living at it,'' said Roy, whose first novel, Bent Road, was released by Dutton in March. She is the recipient of the Ed Hirshberg Award for Excellence in Florida Writing from the Tampa Writers' Alliance, and her work has also appeared in the Chattahoochee Review. She will be a featured author at this year's Festival of Reading.
What's on your nightstand?
Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell. He's got that crystal-clear quality to his writing that I hope to find in mine. Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson, who is actually one of my favorite authors. And because right now my daughter is reading it in eighth grade, I'm rereading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, one of my favorite books of all time.
What have you learned from Woodrell?
The thing about him is how powerful the simplest images are. They carry the greatest strength, and it's a great sign of his confidence as an author. For example, the starkness of the landscape. In the book, the stark, snowy landscape really sets a scene.
What have you discovered in this rereading of To Kill a Mockingbird?
It is a book that you get something out of when you read it at different ages, which is true, I suppose, of a lot of books, but now I'm a mother. I have a daughter who is older than Scout. I'm reading it from a mother's point of view, and I'm really proud of Scout, how she stands up for herself and her convictions. I suppose when I was younger, I identified more with the children's point of view.
And why is Mary Lawson a favorite?
She's a Canadian writer. Her first book that I read was Crow Lake. She has tremendous command of language and great appreciation of plot. She offers the reader both of those things, and I like to pick her up when I get stumped and don't know where to go.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.