A Shine That Defies The Dark
by Jodi Gallegos
Gripping, romantic, and evocative of its time— A Shine that Defies the Dark is a spellbinding story of one woman who will stop at nothing to survive during a tumultuous time in American history.
After a six-year exile, Ophelia Breaux and her mother are overjoyed to return to the Louisiana bayou. But it seems the ghosts of the epic feud that drove them away still haunt Plaquemines Parish, and with the Great Depression sweeping the nation, the two soon find they can’t make ends meet.
Seeing no other option, Ophelia’s mother takes the drastic step of sharing her bed with the town judge in exchange for a reduced rent. The judge has had a life-long obsession with Momma, and Ophelia is desperate to end this arrangement and get her away from him.
When Remy Granger shows up, Ophelia knows it could mean more trouble—and that’s the last thing they need. Handsome and dangerous, he’s the first boy she ever kissed, and a member of the most notorious family in southern Louisiana—but he’s also got an opportunity for fast money in rumrunning. Ophelia goes all in, and it turns out she may have a knack for the business. But she’s going to have to run even faster if she wants to save Momma… dodging the cops, rival gangs, and her traitorous heart at every turn.
You can find this book on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36428620-a-shine-that-defies-the-dark?ac=1&from_search=true
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About the author:
Jodi is a YA writer, black belt, registered nurse and case manager for a busy home health agency. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations. The most current projected completion date of her To Be Read book collection is May 17, 2176.
Author Q & A:
Where did the idea for this book come from? I’ve asked [that question] myself. Did this fully formed plot line emerged miraculously from someone’s imagination (if only it were that easy!).
The truth is novels are the result of several little inspirations. Separately they seem unique and fully formed. But when inspiration strikes, those random ideas come together with unexpected and wonderous results.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I adore research. I could spend months researching history, maps, food, dialect, local legends, wildlife, local industry and vegetation.
What did you edit out of this book? The ending, which may be made available at some point as an “extra”.
How do you select the names of your characters? Lots of research. I like the names to be meaningful, even if it’s just being regionally specific.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad ones? I haven’t seen any yet, but I’m sure I’ll read them…at least until it hurts. Going in I’m aware that not every book is right for everyone, so I’ll try to stay rational about bad reviews.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? I include a subtle homage in each of my books to the author I’ve admired the longest and to an artist who I find to be an amazing lyricist. In A Shine That Defies the Dark there’s also a reference to a funny story that happened to my brother and husband.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? In terms of first drafts my first book took 4 ½ years to complete. My second and third were completed during NaNoWriMo, so 30 days.
What is the first book that made you cry? The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. I bawled for an hour. In public!
Have you ever gotten reader’s block? Yes. I have attention issues and need to be in the right mind and environment for reading. If I’m very stressed, busy or distracted it’s hard to become absorbed by a book.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have a small band of local authors that I adore. They’re so supportive of each other and the exchange of information and ideas every time we get together is priceless. They’re people that I can also just hang out and visit with about non-writing related topics.
I also have author and editor friends I’ve met online—in all corners of the world—and developed friendships with. The writing community is so supportive of each other. It’s an amazing tribe to be a part of.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Do not listen to the English teacher who said you’d never be able to earn a living in a literature-based career. Ignore him and follow your dreams!
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. It’s the first post-apocalyptic book I ever read and the only book I’ve read numerous times. I’ve never heard anyone else mention it.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? I’m currently still working as an RN Case Manager for an in-home health agency.
A special sneak peek inside:
The air was dense with the heat and moisture of late spring in the bayou. Crickets chirped, frogs croaked nearby, and the gentle slush of water slapped against the shore.
The trail was uneven and difficult to traverse in the dark. Dixie and I grasped at each other to keep from falling. The T-strap shoes I’d worn didn’t have a terribly high heel, but my ankles threatened to roll with every step nonetheless. I was sure Dixie’s higher heels would be the end of her if we didn’t find even ground soon.
I lifted the hem of my trumpet skirt, the material thin and ragged. It wouldn’t stand many more repairs. I didn’t want to risk it being snagged by the loose twigs that swiped at us as we followed the dark trail.
The faint sounds of zydeco music drifted on the air and made its way through the trees. A happy chirping melody from an accordion and fiddle filled the night. The tension I’d been carrying floated away with the buoyant melody. My heart began to beat in time to the scratching tempo of the frottoir, and I might have begun dancing right there had my ankles not threatened to roll yet again.
Just as I was about to declare that no moonshine was worth a forced march through gator-infested swamps, the trees opened up and I saw a barn at the edge of a pond. Yellow light seeped through the open doors and between the weathered slats. There were a few cars parked along the structure, as well as in the clearing behind it, and two horses were tied to the low-hanging branches of a tree near the door.
The Granger boys hadn’t so much set up a speakeasy as they’d taken possession of an abandoned barn and opened the doors for anyone willing to take the risk along with them.
“Look, Ophelia, it’s perfect!” Dixie laughed. She grabbed my hand and pulled me through the line of people streaming toward the doors.
I stopped short and pointed to the roof of the barn. “That boy has a gun.”
Simon Carre ambled past me. “There’s two in the trees and one over there, too.” He pointed toward the field, but didn’t stop walking.
Dixie pulled on my hand. “Claude Moret’s gang beat Tully Bishop near to death for settin’ up his own business,” she said. “The Grangers ain’t about to take that chance. Besides, the danger’s what makes it fun.”
Dixie’s enthusiasm was infectious. My reluctance was serving no purpose. As cautious as I’d intended to be during our illegal escapade, apprehension melted away as soon as I passed through the open doors. For the first time in five months, I felt like I was just a girl again. Tonight there was no sadness. My only responsibility was to enjoy life back in the most vibrant place on earth.
The music was lively and I lost myself in the carefree spirit that filled the barn. Dixie and I danced to nearly every song. We stopped only long enough to catch our breaths or find a new dance partner. A crowd of old acquaintances joined us and it felt as though we were the center of fun.
“Here’s a face you ain’t seen in a long time.” Dixie reached into a group of boys as they walked past us and yanked one of them to the center of our group.
It was as if he’d magically appeared before me. I saw his dark hair first. It was slicked back, but even the oil he’d smoothed over it couldn’t control the natural wave. I remembered how it’d hung in his eyes that day when he’d looked up at me from the curb. His face had grown strong and angular. It was apparent that his nose had been broken—at least once—and there was a jagged scar over his left eye. But, it was him, and as much as I knew he was no good, he was also perfect.
“Remy Granger,” I said, more breathlessly than I would have hoped. I smiled and tried to ignore the fluttering of my heart and the heat that must have certainly stained my cheeks crimson. Does he think I’m being flirtatious? Am I being flirtatious?
Remy’s eyes moved down my body and then up again. A smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. “I heard you was back. And I’ve seen you at the church a time or two.” He tried to put on an angelic look, but it couldn’t hide the devil that glinted in his eye.
“I’ve noticed you there too.” I couldn’t stop the flirtatious drawl in my voice. “But only a time or two. And never inside.”
“Well, I suspect there’s only so much the good Lord is able to do in one day.” Laughter bubbled behind the words. “No sense in me using up all his focus when the good people of Plaquemines Parish are needin’ him to intervene on behalf of their citrus crops and whatnot.”
He leaned toward me as if to speak into my ear, but said nothing. The surge of heat that radiated from his body stopped my breath. I leaned toward him, unable to resist the energy that reached out and wrapped around me.
While the music thumped around us, and bodies moved in unison, Remy Granger and I stood, each simply feeling the presence of the other. The only movement between us was the rise and fall of our chests and the breath that passed between us.
“Well, looks like you do remember each other,” Dixie said, then followed with, “I’m just gonna go grab another drink.” And then she disappeared into the crowd.
Plus, we have a special treat to share with you! A giveaway from the publisher of the above book, with a mystery prize! Good luck, and may the best man (or woman) win!
Crimson Tree Mystery Prize
Runs from Dec. 5th to Dec. 14th.