Genre: Humerous Fiction
Published by Erina Bridget Ring
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Review Copy From: Author
Edition: Signed TPB
My Rating: 5
Synopsis (via GR
Gretchen O’Malley thinks her new neighborhood is nice and quiet, as ordinary as any other neighborhood. But this soon changes. Every day a new dilemma arises, pulling her into the chaos, and as she gets to know her neighbors she discovers comedy, cruelty, and even tragedy.
Do you know what’s going on in your neighborhood?
This year I have been reading mostly Psychological Thrillers but was needing a change so I decided on The Neighborhood, which I was lucky enough, to receive a signed copy from the author. Can I say what a charming delight this book was!!!! The first book that I have read by Ms. Ring but will definitely not be the last.
Who will honestly say that you have checked out what your neighbors are doing or shaking your heads at them? I know I have.
Gretchen and Jarrod O’Malley have moved into a house in the quaint Sherwood Forest neighboorhood on a cul de sac where it appears that their neighbors are welcoming and all friendly. The day after their move, Maggie Gaines comes to visit and offers Gretchen help to unpack. However, the kind offer turns into a very uncomfortable feeling in Gretchen since Maggie is telling her where to put the unpacked items.
Then what Gretchen and Jarrod thought was the ideal neighborhood turns into something that is hard to believe.
This was an entertaining and quick read. I was chuckling at some of the incidents and then feeling creepy at others. I had to keep reading because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next in this little community. The characters were believable, even though, their antics were at times overpowering, quite intrusive and outlandish.
I absolutely loved this book and know that I will never look at my neighbors again without thinking of the residents living in the Sherwood Forest area!
Q&A with Erina Bridget Ring
Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
What inspired you to write this book?
I’d like to start by saying it’s truly a pleasure to be a part of this experience, and I thank you Cheryl for the opportunity in order to participate.
Having moved 21 times in my life, I have lived in different states and communities. I remember various homes and the neighbors within all those different communities. What struck me the most, was every time we moved a person would show up in my new neighborhood that would remind me of a person from my old one.
What propelled me to write about The Neighborhood? A combination of things. You see, my neighborhood is going through changes, people have moved, the children have grown up and moved away, and unfortunately some have passed away. I was standing in my local grocery store talking with a friend that had some crazy things going on in her neighborhood and the neighbors were in an uproar. I left the store thinking I bet this is more common than I thought, and decided right then and there to investigate the goings on of other peoples neighborhoods.
I have friends all over the country and I decided to survey them. I asked specific questions about where they lived, and I told them to not sugar coat the answers. I sent over 100 letters to families and when I started to get the surveys back, not only were photos included- the top ten types of people were the common thread within all of them! I remember saying out loud in my office…”We all live in the same Neighborhood!” I have to write about this.
So, off to the local coffee shop I went. I started to write about a little town in the Midwest, with charming names of streets and my “characters” started to move right in and began to shape the story. I was writing my book and describing things, when all of a sudden a woman dashing around the neighborhood with binoculars and a clip board arrived. Gladys.
The day Gladys arrived, the tone of my book changed from a sweet story of everyday life in America, to a humorous story of fun and dread within a somewhat fictional neighborhood.
This was now my fifth novel, and began writing in 2014. I write Contemporary/ memoir /fiction. So basically, I am writing about things I observe in life and how they relate to people in my lifetime. Although my first book was a memoir, I quickly moved away from “Me” within the stories and an interesting thing happened. The people within my community thought I was writing about them! Now that is eye opening in of itself, and opened up a huge conversation about what I was writing about, and how personal it truly can be. Finally, I found myself not speaking about what I was writing so people would not tell others I was writing about them- as though it was a terrible thing! I found this also to be eye opening as people love to be in a book, until the person in the book does something devious, then people are upset and outraged. The reactions I’ve gotten have been mostly positive. The biggest challenge in me writing a novel is taking a deep breath and telling the reader a story, be it happy, sad, exciting, or plain dreadful. I really want my readers to feel and breath-in the emotions of my characters and be able to root for one side or the other.
I loved Gladys. I so wanted to know what she was writing on her clipboard!!!!
Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.
Since this was my fifth novel, I just began writing in 2014. I write Contemporary/ memoir /fiction. So basically I am writing about things I observe in life and how they relate to people in my lifetime. Although my first book is a memoir, I quickly moved away from “Me” within the stories and a interesting thing happened. The people within my community thought I was writing about them! Now that is very eye opening and opened up a huge conversation about what I am writing and how personal it really is. I had to finally not talk about what I am writing so people would not tell other people I was writing about them as though it was a terrible thing! I found it eye opening people love to be in a book until the person in the book does something devious, then people are upset and outraged. The reactions I have gotten have been mostly positive. So the biggest challenge in me writing a novel is taking a deep breath and telling the reader a story be it happy, sad, exciting or plain dreadful. I really want my reader to feel, breath the emotions of my characters and root for one side or the other.
I could definitely feel Gretchen’s emotions but I won’t say who I liked or disliked
Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I write at coffee shops and local restaurants. I had my very first interview at a local bakery, and I wrote my first novel and first newspaper article, with photos, at the very same one… and every book since then. My readers get a sense of the community I am writing about and have been so supportive.
Tell us why we should read your book?
Why should you read my book? Now that is a very interesting story. Since my first book is about me- my readers truly resonated with me within that story and wanted to hear more. Even though I have moved to fiction, I put a sense of myself within the books for the reader to pull them into the storyline. I speak to many people and have a wealth of stories from my personal life to share. I sell my books hand to hand, and try to connect with the reader on a level of acceptance. My following has now grown online through social media platforms, as I wrote all five novels without social media being present within my writing process. People are just now finding out about my stories and are reading them as I wrote them, as though they are a series. Each one of my books stands alone with different emotional ties, and dilemmas. What each book has within- is a sense of community, one that my reader wants to be a part of and/or can easily see themselves within.
Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Am I working on another novel? Yes, I am excited to say another group of people arrived for me to write about. I am doing my research as I write this novel and its been challenging but funny, outrageous, sometimes sad, extremely interesting, and eye opening for me. I have traveled out of town to different places and since I am not completely 100% sure of the title yet…I will need to share that when the title is firmly set.
Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?
What do I do for fun? I am a wife and grandmother, an artist. I paint watercolors, and have played the piano since I was 3 years old. I love to walk my dog Ruby everyday. and of course- I love to write. Believe it or not, I had no idea I was a writer until I went through one of the roughest years, personally and emotionally in my life. My husband was writing his first novel which took him 15 years to complete, and he needed an editor. It was through my husband Jack, that I met his editor, Carolyn Woolston. She asked me one question, and my reply left her wanting to know more about “What Happened.” Jack and I drove to the coast to meet Carolyn to discuss Jack’s book, “Red Sky in the Morning.” A historical novel about WWll. She accepted Jack’s book to edit, and sent me home thinking about the possibility of writing a story about what I was going through personally. You see, I thought it would be a journal of sorts…but Knit 2, Purl 2, Kill 2 – A Caretakers Story of Survival, poured right out of me. I found out I was a writer in the process, a process that is still ongoing, and one that continues to surprise me…
I am looking forward to reading this.
Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?
What if my novel became a movie who would I cast? Well, that is an interesting question. I was at Starbucks writing when I happened to talk to a Sundance film maker….a shear by-chance meeting. We struck up a conversation because I was writing a gripping scene in my second novel, Breakfast with the FBI and I was trying to find a Kleenex. She offered me a napkin and we started talking. She found out I was a very “new” writer, and I told her about my journey, by being interviewed on NPR Radio, highlighted in the newspapers, with that, people were actually reading my books…I was amazed that she was amazed…and yes, I sent my first two novels to a film maker…and that was in the beginning. I had a hard time saying I was a writer. It was just so surreal. Anyway, for The Neighborhood, I would love to have Nicole Kidman as me, Gladys, would be Gladys from Bewitched, my husband Jarrod in the book would be Clint Eastwood. Maggie would be Sarah Jessica Parker, the felons in the book would be the actor from the mask of Zorro- and Larry and Larry, from Bob Newhart. Chip and Joanna Gaines would be the religious couple of the neighborhood- and the new couple that moves in, would be Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds. Last but not least, the hunter in the story would be Bill Murray. It would be very interesting and intriguing to see the dynamics of these people unfold. What a fun idea!
While reading, I was also picturing Gladys from Betwitched and can definitely see those actors in the roles you mentioned
My favorite foods? Jack and I write very early in the morning…so we take time every day to meet up for a 2-3 hour lunch to discuss our day, what we are working on and any character problems we may be having. Our conversations must be funny to overhear because we can be talking about WWll, Spanish Civil War to Irish History and then on to what the name was of those bikers that we saw on that freeway, or to “what would you think if the neighbor jumped over the fence and put the dogs in the garage on a hot day…would you be mad?”
We love to eat locally and the restaurant of choice is R&D Kitchen. This is the same luncheon spot we frequented while I was writing The Neighborhood, and now, my newest, untitled book. They serve fish, great chicken, and yummy salads. A place this writer can eat, relax, and enjoy her surroundings.
Thank you again Cheryl for asking so many wonderful questions. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you, and I hope you and your followers will enjoy reading the stories I’ve written, ones that are very near and dear to me.