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Good day to all! I hope you are having a fabulously wonderful one. Today, I have the pleasure of discussing the book The Reel Sisters by Michelle Cummings. This book has received many positive reviews including 2 perfect 4 star ratings. This book is going to be the February book of the month, so what better way to kick that off than with an interview with the author?
Before we dive into the questions and answers, I'd invite you to check out the two official reviews of this book:
I have read some of the book and enjoyed it myself, and I invite you to read it as well. Make sure to then stop by and participate in the book of the month discussion on the forums here at OBC!
Now to the interview!
1. It looks like you grew up on a farm. Tell us a little bit about what that was like.
I loved growing up on the farm, especially in the summer. Endless days of sunshine and fresh air let my siblings and me explore our pastures and build forts wherever we wanted. I grew up in rural northwest Kansas, and there were only 2800 people in the entire county. I have five siblings and creative, fun parents who made ‘working’ on the farm feel more like a privilege rather than a chore. We harvested wheat, corn and milo for income, plus my dad was an auctioneer for a local auction company. We also raised many types of livestock: pigs, chickens, cattle, sheep and a milk cow named Bessie, so we had all kinds of meats, eggs and milk, plus we made our own butter and cheese. In the summer we maintained an acre garden, so we had fresh vegetables for several months and we canned the extras for food for the winter. We worked hard but we also had fun. We used to tease our parents that the only time they let us go to town was for church and toilet paper! I wouldn’t trade my upbringing or my hometown for anything.
2. Let's talk about your book The Reel Sisters. The basic premise is that 4 women get together and go fly fishing when a naked woman comes travelling down the stream towards them in need of help. Where did the idea for this book come from?
The inspiration to write this book came from one night at my own book club. We were reading *The Friday Night Knitting Club*, by Kate Jacobs, when Kate called into our book club and let us interview her about the book. I was so inspired at the fact that a New York Times Best Selling author was calling us, and when I read her bio at the back of her book, the last line read, “This is her first novel.” In that moment it became attainable to me, and I knew I wanted to write a novel.
When setting my goals for the book, one goal was to write a fun and relatable story, that would also encourage women to step outside of their day-to-day routines and try something new in the outdoors. So, if I was going to ask other women to do this, I had to do it first. I needed to choose some kind of outdoor sport that I had never done before. I chose fly fishing as it was new to me, and it looked so graceful and peaceful. I’m so glad I did. I absolutely love this sport now and the life lessons it has taught me since I started.
I had so much fun developing the five women in the story. I chose five characters at random that were different ages and ethnicities, and then realized there were five main components to a fly rod. It was fun to tweak their personalities to metaphorically match the five main components of a fly rod. Throughout the book I wanted to scatter some basic fly fishing instruction, so I knew one of the women had to be new to the group and that the other girls would teach her how to fly fish.
3. Do you have "Reel Sisters" in real life?
I have been so blessed with amazing women friends in my life. My two actual sisters were my first best friends, closely followed by my
girlfriends from my childhood. I met some of them when I was three years old! From pre-school to college to being bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, I cannot imagine any of my major life events without them there by my side. Once I branched out into my professional life, I met several soul sisters at every turn. From work, to church, to my book club gals, to my newfound fly fishing sisters, I have been blessed with the gift of strong, supportive women in my life.
4. The book contains pretty detailed information about fly fishing, and I see that you started the sport in 2010. So, which came first? The idea for the book? Or the love of fly fishing?
The idea to write a novel came first, which lead me to my love of fly fishing. I moved to Colorado in 1998 and while exploring my new
surroundings, I happened upon four women fly fishing together at a local lake. It was the first time I had ever seen women fly fish, and I fell in love with their graceful loops and lines. I also loved the strong sarcasm and banter they were tossing back and forth with one another, and I instantly wanted to be a part of their little group. I vowed in that moment that I would someday take up fly fishing.
In 2010 when I decided I wanted to write a novel, and given my goal for writing it in the first place, I remembered this moment from twelve years prior. I knew fly fishing would be challenging. I knew it would push me outside of my comfort zone, and I knew it would allow me to write from the perspective of a beginner-- with all of the raw emotion and frustration I was sure to encounter. Throughout the years it took me to write this book, I can honestly say I learned something new about myself each time I stepped into the river.
5. Which of the 5 main characters in the book do you most closely identify with? Why?
The people that know me well think I’m a cross between Sophie and Veronica. Between my farm girl roots and my background in leadership, the professions of these two characters made it easy for me to write from a personal
6. Melody is very much into photography. Do you have a love of photography as well?
I have always had a love for ‘capturing the moment,’ but never had the right equipment to get really into it. My husband is a recreational
photographer though and has an amazing talent and eye for a great shot. Early on in my writing process, he was in a few online photography groups. This gave me access to a few professional photographers that let me interview them about what life was like behind the lens. I really wanted to get into Melody’s head and capture the creativity and potential isolation that comes from hours of shooting and processing.
7. What does your family think of the book and your writing?
My mom is an avid reader, so I was probably most worried about her review. She’s also a terrible liar, so I knew I would know if she hated it. In the end she really liked it and I consider that a notable review. One of my sisters thought it was ironic that I wrote a book called The Reel Sisters, yet I wrote my actual sisters out of the story. She thinks I’m most like Sophie in real life, so the fact that Sophie had brothers and no sisters kind of got her nose out of joint.
8. The girls in the book had a pretty crazy experience. They planned to catch fish and caught a naked lady instead. What is your craziest
experience that you can tell us about?
One time when my husband and I were on a hike we found a dead guy in the river. It was so surreal! We later learned that this man had been in a car accident six months prior, and his car had been completely submerged in the water. The river had receded enough on this day that he floated out of his car and washed up onto a small berm in the river. It was a crazy experience!
9. What else would you like your readers to know about you?
I own two companies outside of writing this novel. I started my first company when I was 27 years old when I couldn’t find a job I liked, so I made one up! It’s called Training Wheels, and it’s a creative resource for teambuilding activities and programs. It’s still a thriving company today, and I love the work I do in the teambuilding field. I started a second company with my business partner Angela Sebaly called Personify Leadership. This company focuses on core leadership development skills, and we teach skills in a fun and interactive way. Both jobs keep me plenty busy by positively impacting leaders around the globe.
I always like to end on some fun questions, so let's do some of those now.
10. Are you a cat or dog person?
Being a farm kid, I’d have to say neither, although if I had to choose one or the other I’d probably say cat person. When I was a kid my dad always said, “People live inside and animals live outside.” For whatever reason that stuck with me. Ironically, four of my five siblings have dogs.
11. If you had to choose, would you rather death by drowning or death by gunshot?
Hands down death by gunshot. The quicker the better.
12. What is your favorite superhero and why?
I’ve always loved the Iron Man character. I think I like him best because he wasn’t born with his power, it’s something he created. I think this= metaphorically translates into the concept that you can be whatever you want to be if you set your mind to it.
This book is available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited. Of course, you can also purchase it. The link to the book is here: Amazon
It is also available here on Barnes and Noble: B&N
― Ernest Hemingway
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I am right there with you! If I found a dead body that would ruin fishing forever for me. Especially one that had been in the water for six months!ashley_claire wrote: ↑31 Jan 2018, 10:44Great interview! I'm so surprised to learn that the author took up fly fishing AFTER coming up with the initial idea to write the book. Also, finding a dead body in the water would probably be reason enough for me to never fish again, but I'm glad she found some inspiration from it. I enjoyed getting to know the author more through this interview and some of the motivations behind the book. Thank you!
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