Tuesday, December 16, 2014

THE VINEYARD: 5 Questions for Author Michael Hurley

Please join me in welcoming author Michael Hurley to Books & Benches. He comes to us today with his award-winning book, The Vineyard, and I must say it sounds fascinating. Having spent time in New England, and being a lover of a good mystery, I look forward to reading this book. Welcome, Michael!

“[A] spellbinding, beautifully written creation. Michael Hurley is a superb storyteller.” —Long & Short Reviews

“[A] tale both hopeful and tragic, with an ending that will leave you lost in thought for days after you finished it.” —The Book Wheel

“Beautifully crafted, flawlessly written, and a resounding novel of friendship, pain, and ultimate forgiveness.” —Literary R & R

From Michael Hurley, winner of the Somerset Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.

Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha's Vineyard. As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher known only as "the fisherman" threatens to change everything they believe about their world--and each other.

“Hurley writes beautifully,” says Kirkus Reviews, “especially when describing island and nautical life.” Publishers Weekly praises “his well-crafted prose.” 

Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Ragbagger Press (November 25, 2014)  
Pages: 384 

5 Questions for Michael Hurley
What are three things people may not know about you?
I played lacrosse in college for an NCAA Division III championship team.

I got kicked out of Peabody Preparatory Music School at age 14 for playing jazz instead of practicing classical music.  I later played piano jazz at clubs, but today, I have a real love of classical music and total admiration for those who are accomplished at playing it.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs in addition to a thirty-year career as an attorney. I’ve been a sailboat charter captain, a hotel night auditor, a lifeguard, a camp counselor, an archery instructor, a tennis coach, a lacrosse coach, a busboy, a floral truck delivery driver, a short order cook, a CCD instructor, a wilderness canoe guide, a car washer, a hay hauler, a piano player, a freelance writer, a photographer, a portrait artist, a convenience store clerk, a switchboard operator, a campus police officer, a night watchman, and a forest ranger.

What is your favorite scene in The Vineyard?
Most of the action in literary fiction happens in the thoughts and emotions of the characters, because these elements, rather than a series of events in the plot, are what drive the story.  However, there is a seduction scene in The Vineyard (Chapter 13) that I had a lot of fun writing, because it is so suspenseful. Usually editors don’t allow themselves to get lost in your story, but when all three of mine missed the same few small but obvious typographical errors in this chapter, I knew it was because they were caught up in the story as readers, not as editors.  I knew I had them hooked and that I’d hit the mark.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?
Yes.  I can review edits while listening to classical music, or acoustic guitar, but I prefer peace and quiet when I write.

What type of hero do you like best?
I think every hero needs a flaw, and the more tragic the hero, the bigger the flaw must be.  The central hero in a great story, however, needs a great purpose. It can’t be making money or simply preserving his own life and happiness. He or she needs something higher to strive toward. If there is a hallmark to my writing, it is that many of my characters are flawed individuals striving for something greater than themselves.

If you could be any character from literature, who would it be?
That’s easy.  I would be Gandalf.  Cool hat. Cool beard. You get to hang out with elves and live for three thousand years. Kick-ass party tricks.

Official Book Trailer


Author Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.

The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press on November 25, 2014.

Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005.  It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine.  In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.

When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house.  His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.

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