4th Annual Indie Book Fest Author Spotlight: Jennifer B. Duffey
For over a decade, Jennifer B. Duffey has worked as a freelance writer for clients from around the country. Before beginning her writing career, she traveled throughout Europe with the U.S. Army, worked at the Federal Reserve Bank, and owned a successful contracting firm. She is the co-founder of Southern Willow Publishing. Ms. Duffey is the proud mother of two sons and currently lives in central Georgia with her family, a loveable but less than obedient Cocker Spaniel, and two slightly neurotic cats. When not writing or with family, she can be found energetically armchair coaching her favorite football team, the Georgia Bulldogs.
Beneath the Mulberry Tree
“Jimmy Watson dreamt of retiring to a small farm in the country. After a lifetime of building a successful business, his dream becomes a reality. He has traded in the stress of deadlines for the calm grazing cows in a summer field.
But when Jimmy suddenly becomes plagued with a series of nightmares, he must decide between his peaceful life and a path he cannot yet understand. It is a choice that will eventually lead to the most important question of his life: which is greater, life or love? Will Jimmy choose tranquility or unimaginable pain?
The answer lies beneath the mulberry tree.”
I love authors who excel at character development. To me, the characters are far more important than plotting or genre. I’ll gladly read a work outside my wheelhouse provided the characters have been well crafted.
In my opinion, few other writers are as gifted in character development as Maeve Binchy. She was the master craftswoman who could bring her characters to life like no one else.
I was working in a bookstore in Germany when I first discovered her writing. My husband and I were planning a weekend holiday. I needed something to do on the five-hour car ride. Honestly, reading wasn’t big on my to-do list at the time. I had an infant and a marriage that was challenging even at the best of times. There were far more important things than novels.
And then the book Evening Class came in a shipment to the store. A sticker on the cover said that it was the latest novel from the author of Circle of Friends. I had seen the movie and I had really enjoyed it so I decided to give the book a try. After all, it had to be better than German techno, which was the phase of music my husband was going through at the time.
About an hour into our trip, I pulled the book out of my bag. Within minutes, I was completely transported to Dublin, Ireland. I don’t remember much about that car ride, but I do remember that novel very well. I spent a great deal of time over the next few days sitting on the banks of Lake Chiemsee delving into the world she had created.
In the years since that vacation, I’ve read her entire library several times through. Some I enjoyed more than others. The Glass Lake and Light a Penny Candle are two of my all-time favorite novels. She had such a gift for telling compelling stories about the real world around us. She told honest accounts of women, in their day-to-day lives, that made the ordinary seem extraordinary. When reading her novels, I never felt alone. For a brief moment, I was truly a part of that world.
Sadly, Maeve Binchy passed away in 2012. While I’ll never get the opportunity to walk into another bookstore and see her latest novel on a giant display, I’m grateful for the years of literature she provided the world. And mostly, I’m grateful for the hours of enjoyment she has given me. Her writing helped rekindle my love of the written word at a time in my life when I had forgotten how much that meant to me. She showed me what great writing could be and inspired me to craft better characters and stories in my own work. Her work has influenced my work in countless ways. That’s why her writing will always hold a special place in my library.