Tuesday’s Teaser with Kathleen Neely

The Street Singer

Today I have award-winning author, Kathleen Neely here to talk about her new book. Welcome, Kathleen. Let’s begin talking about The Street Singer.

How would you describe your main characters?

I’m pleased to introduce you to Trisha Mills and Adda Marsh.

Trisha, a student in her final year of law school, is no stranger to loss. After losing her parents in an auto accident, she was raised by her grandparents in an old house at the foothills of the mountains in rural Asheville, NC. When they died, she found herself without a family. It left Trisha with a passion for any remembrance of her past.

Adda Marsh has an extraordinary singing voice, at least she did before old age compromised her vocals. She won’t be nominated for another Grammy, as she once was when the world knew her as Adaline, but she could still gather a crowd from her spot on the corner of an Asheville street. Adda would never use the name Adaline again. It carried too many memories, and most of them were not good.

What problems do your characters face?

Although generations and ethnicity separate Trisha and Adda, they have a connection. Trisha’s grandfather played Adaline’s records when he taught Trisha to dance. They both loved her music. How is it possible that this once-famous singer now entertains people from a street corner and lives off of money from the donation box?

Nostalgia, compassion, and a spunky spirit drive Trisha to uncover the story, despite the friction it creates with her fiancée, Grant Ramsey. When attorney Rusty Bergstrom agrees to help Adda, Trisha begins to examine her life, her feelings, and her future.

What would you like your readers to know about your characters?

No character is completely good or completely bad. Each is flawed, and each is driven by a different source.

— Trisha longs to hold on to the past.

— Adda does what she needs to do for daily survival, but protects her box of memories.

— Grant is programmed through his political family to filter everything through the eyes of the media.

— Rusty practices law to right wrongs and help people.

Read an excerpt of The Street Singer

Adda sat on the mattress to catch her breath before lifting the lid off of the remembering box. It was the fullest. There was a lot more to remember than there was to eat. Some of the remembering was good. But mostly it was hard.

Adda picked up a photograph of her family. She never questioned where they got it, or how they had afforded such a fine picture. It was black and white with a white border around the whole thing. Little curvy cuts made up the white paper frame. There was her mama and daddy, standing straight in the middle, all nine of their children surrounding them, everyone smiling for the picture.

She started with the one on her left because that was the way she was told to read—left to right. Leila, Jamal, and Rosa were first, next to Mama. Then Daddy was standing with Berta, Kande, Kioni, and Luther, beside him. Adda and Minny were in front of Mama and Daddy. They were the littlest. Adda figured she must have been around four years old, and Minny just a tad younger.

Adda looked beyond the people and saw her growing-up home. There was that old house with the two windows that always stayed open, trying to get some air inside those three rooms. The front porch had big rocks pushed under the corner poles to keep it level. Adda remembered the time Luther slithered under that porch, hiding when he was a’feared that Daddy was gonna whoop him. Didn’t take Daddy no time to find him cause that dry old dust started Luther coughing. Daddy whooped him, once for disobeying and twice for hiding.

The big pole furthest from the door had the clothesline attached. Then it stretched out to a big old Elm tree. There were no clothes hanging on it, which was a strange sight. Adda never remembered the clothesline being empty.

She placed the picture face down and pulled out a frayed piece of fabric, no bigger than a hand towel. The floral pattern was faded beyond recognition, but Adda saw it clearly. She had those tiny pink roses burned in her mind, their green swirly stems all sewed with hand stitches. Mama had sewn the blanket when Berta was a little child, but when she tried to hand it on down, Berta threw a fit. Adda kept sneaking to use it, and Berta would snatch it back. That was about the finest thing inside that little old rough wood building. Adda held the scrap to her face and brushed its softness against her cheek. Mama. Why didn’t you help me?

About Kathleen

Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading. She is a retired elementary principal.

Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her first novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.