The Promise of Pierson Orchard
by Kate Brandes
GENRE: Women's Fiction
In the novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack and Wade–years ago.
When LeeAnn’s parents have good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land, and the way of life they love.
Pa A brand new black pickup was parked between LeeAnn’s red Chevy and Jack’s old beater. A man stood beside it, with his hand raised in greeting, but he said nothing more. Coming from the bright light of the barn into the dusk prevented Jack from making out the man’s face. Jack stared in his direction. Some tug of memory caused him to hesitate. There was something familiar about the slight curl in his shoulders.
LeeAnn emerged from the edge of the orchard and the man turned at the sound of her boots on the gravel drive. “LeeAnn?” the man said.
She stopped. “Wade Pierson?” She hesitated a moment more and then walked slowly toward him. “Is it really you?”
There, right in front of him, was his brother. Wade. Back after twenty years. He was still alive, at least. Wade’s arms encircled LeeAnn.
Jack clenched his fists and went back into the barn. He offloaded the fruit from the wagon, bruising most of it. He washed apples with shaky hands and then crushed them for the cider press. LeeAnn and Wade came through the doorway.
“Jack, look who’s here.” Jack glanced up and then couldn’t take his eyes from his brother’s face for a long moment. He wasn’t a sixteen year-old kid anymore. He’d grown taller than Jack and filled out. Damn if he didn’t look even more like their dad now, with that same dark red hair and fair skin. That curl of the shoulder used to give Wade the look of someone unsure of whether he belonged. But now Wade stood there smiling, like he would be welcome. Like he could just show up after all this time with as much warning as he gave on the night he left.
Fierce Female Characters: How to Create Strong Role Models in Books
In my novel, The Promise of Pierson Orchard, I have four point-of-view characters, two female (LeeAnn and Stella) and two male (Jack and Wade). The novel is told through each of their eyes in a braided narrative.
I would argue that all characters of interest are fierce. By fierce I mean that they exhibit deep personal courage to get want they want in the story. That doesn’t necessarily mean their going to save the world or get away with a bank heist, but they will overcome great odds that are specific to them.
So often in novels, we see what we see in movies – that women serve the role of love interest or a support character, but they lack their own goals and story arcs. They are in the novel (or movie) to help tell the story about another character (often male), but they don’t have their own story.
While I was driving this morning I heard an NPR report about a new book written by statistician Ben Blatt, Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve. Using a database, Blatt looked at thousands of classic and contemporary best sellers to determine, for example, if our favorite writers use clichés. He also looked at whether men and women write differently. It turns out they do.
Blatt found that female authors write equally about men and women, but men write overwhelmingly about men.
According to the NPR story, “For every appearance of the word "she" in classics by male authors, Blatt found three uses of the word "he." In classics by women, the ratio was pretty much one-to-one.”
Neither of the two female point-of-view characters in my novel is the lead character, but just like every strong, fierce character, each of them has a clear goal and will risk everything to get it. They each have their own story within the story.
How do we get more fierce female characters as strong role models for readers? We write them. And maybe if Blatt is right, that will mostly be up to women authors.
AUTHOR BIO & LINKS:
An environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wildflowers.
Bookclub Giveaway: In celebration of my upcoming book launch, I'm offering 8 signed paperback copies, 8 small prizes, a $25 Amazon gift card and a list of book-related discussion questions to one lucky book club member to share with your club. All you have to do to enter is tell one person about the book and sign up here: http://katebrandes.com/books/the-promise-of-person-orchard/ Contest runs through my book launch date, April 22, 2017. The winner will be announced the following day! Good luck!
BOOK BUY LINKS:
Kate Brandes will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.