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Thursday, June 29th, 2006 by

The Charleston Post-Courier reviewed Mark Ethridge’s Grievances earlier this month, talking with Ethridge both about the book, and about the challenges facing a first-time novelist.

“Ethridge began ‘Grievances’ in 2001, completing the manuscript in 2003, then invested the next year trying to market the book. He garnered a few rejections in the process, none of which offered the same reasons for taking a pass. The author persisted with, naturally, a newsman’s tenacity. …

[Ethridge said,] ‘I tried to write a work of fiction about 20 years ago. In retrospect, it was lacking. Not only did the publishing world find it lacking, but so did I. I understand now that good stories are really not so much about what happens as they are about what happens to people. It’s about how the characters you like are challenged and what they do. I thought about what novels do and why I like them. Clearly, you want them to be entertaining, captivating if possible. For me, relaxation is being enthralled with something.’ …

‘If you can write a story so well and so detailed that you achieve credibility, you’ve accomplished your goal. Accurate facts are vital, but you’re also telling it in such a way that people will say, “That guy really knows what he’s talking about.” That’s what I wanted to do.’

In real life, as in novels, Ethridge believes truth will out. Occasionally, it just needs some impetus. Or as one character says to Harper, ‘In the long run, truth doesn’t need help. But in the short run, sometimes it uses people like you and me to speed itself along.’

‘I spent a lot of time with that line,’ Ethridge says. ‘I have to believe that truth ultimately comes out. It’s what we all work to do. Some truths may not be told until decades after their time. I figure that sometime we’ll know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. I’m an idealist. You have to hope there’s some higher power in charge of truth and justice.'”

Ethridge will sign Grievances tomorrow, June 30, from 3-5 pm at the Waldenbooks at Sumter Mall. For more information, call (803) 775-6275. For a complete tour schedule, click here. Grievances is available directly from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

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