Debut author Billy Coffey has created quite a critical stir with his novel, Snow Day, which launched recently. Billy has kindly consented to take a little time away from the rush of book launch activities to let my readers know more about him. I think you’ll like what you find.
RM: First of all, congratulations on the launch of Snow Day. How did you handle all the emotions that go along with seeing your novel in print?
BC: It was a very satisfying end to a very long journey, and in some ways a bumpy end. The emotions I’d counted on being there were, things like excitement and a sense of peace. But there was also a lot of nervousness and anxiety, too.
RM: You and I are both fortunate enough to be clients of a great agent: Rachelle Gardner. How did you come to be represented by Rachelle?
BC: One of Rachelle’s clients began reading my blog about a year and a half ago, and she emailed and asked if I had a manuscript. I told her I did, and she offered to serve as a bridge between Rachelle and me. Rachelle liked the manuscript and signed me a few weeks later. I’d always heard of the value blogging can hold for aspiring writers. I found that to be very, very true.
RM: Tell my readers a bit about Snow Day.
BC: Snow Day is about a man named Peter Boyd, who wakes one December morning with two problems. One is that he may very well lose his job. The other is the snowstorm that hit his small town overnight. The stress he’s been under convinces Peter he can’t handle both, so he decides to take a snow day from work. Peter’s plans to spend the day wallowing in despair are upended when his wife sends him to the store for bread and milk, and that begins the bulk of the book. Peter spends his day interacting with the family, friends, and strangers in his small Virginia town, each of whom either have or are enduring their own personal storms, and each of whom will offer Peter a piece of the puzzle as to why we all must suffer loss. In the end, Peter finds that he has lost much, but he has gained more.
RM: And I understand that there’s a second book in the works. What’s that one about?
BC: My second novel is titled Paper Angels. It’s about a man named Andy Sommerville, who’s just like the rest of us in that he has a guardian angel. What makes Andy different is that he can see and talk to his. Andy’s angel is The Old Man, who will over the years tell Andy to collect small mementos from twelve different moments in his life and keep them safely inside a wooden keepsake box. But then a brutal attack turns Andy’s once predictable world upside down, and The Old Man seems to abandon him to the loneliness and pain that has filled his life. All that remains is the keepsake box Andy has always kept safe, and the hospital counselor who will use it to help him discover the defining truth of his life.
RM: As authors, we often hear the phrase, “Don’t quit your day job.” Exactly what is your day job, and do you plan to quit in favor of full-time writing?
BC: I spend my Monday through Friday as supervisor of a campus post office at a small private college in Virginia, and it is exactly as glamorous as it sounds. I think the majority of writers would like to turn their passion into a profession, and I’m no different. So yes, I plan to. Someday.
RM: Your testimony is really touching. My readers can see it here. Would you like to comment on your experience?
BC: One of the saddest things in life is that most of our defining moments are only seen as such in passing. When we’re in the middle of them, they simply look like problems or obstacles. But that was one experience I knew was defining as it was happening.
RM: And as I always ask the authors I interview, any last words for my readers?
BC: Just a nod and a thanks to you, Richard, for inviting me. And to your readers, I’ll say this: pay attention to your little moments, because they’re all just big moments in disguise.
Thanks, Billy. I've read Snow Day, and found it to be a touching, engaging story. I hope my readers will pick up a copy. I'll certainly be watching for Paper Angels and more from Billy Coffey.
Late-breaking news: The Nov-Dec issue of Writer's Digest features Billy on page 18, in their "Breaking In" segment about debut authors. Congratulations, Billy.