Monday, January 9, 2017

Authors To Watch: Abby Bardi, author of 'Double Take'

Abby Bardi is the author of the novels The Book of Fred, The Secret Letters, and Double Take. Her short fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Rosebud, Monkeybicycle, and in the anthologies High Infidelity, Grace and Gravity, and Reader, I Murdered Him, and her short story “Abu the Water Carrier” was the winner of The Bellingham Review’s 2016 Tobias Wolff award for fiction. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland and teaches writing and literature in the Washington, DC, area. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, the oldest railroad depot in America.

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About the Book:

Title: Double Take
Author: Abby Bardi
Publisher: Harper Collins Impulse
Pages: 186
Genre: Mystery/Women’s Fiction

Set in Chicago, 1975, Double Take is the story of artsy Rachel Cochrane, who returns from college with no job and confronts the recent death of Bando, one of her best friends. When she runs into Joey, a mutual friend, their conversations take them back into their shared past and to the revelation that Bando may have been murdered. To find out who murdered him, Rachel is forced to revisit her stormy 1960s adolescence, a journey that brings her into contact with her old friends, her old self, and danger.

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When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing obsessively since third grade. I wrote all through high school and college—mostly really terrible poetry—then stopped writing after college because I thought it was time to be an adult and get serious about life. Then I realized that would never happen, so I started writing obsessively again.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

Mostly I’m a plotter, but then things happen. Characters have revolted and refused to go through with my plans. So now I swing back and forth between plotting and letting the characters surprise me.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

I first got the idea for Double Take during the year the novel begins, 1975. Then I forgot all about it during the years I was trying to be a serious-adult-who-didn’t-write. I started it again a few times over the years, then put it away, then picked it up again. Then last year, I finally got it into a form that felt finished.

How did you get the idea for the book?

Well, I hate to admit it, but there is a kernel of truth to most of the things that happen in the book. For example, like my character Rachel, I really was a waitress at a restaurant that was home to a drug and burglary ring. Nothing else in the book taken from real life quite that literally, but emotionally, it’s all true for me—many of the things that happen to Rachel happened to me in other forms. For example, I really did see someone get shot outside the restaurant, though he didn’t actually die. And a guy I didn’t know did once try to hand me a hash pipe out his apartment window while I was walking past. Hey, it was the Sixties! Rachel’s story is all fiction, but I’ve always thought of it as a collage where I picked up little bits and pieces of things and kept them for future reference.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

I love Rachel, but she’s kind of a mess, like I was at her age. My favorite character is her friend Bando, who is based on a friend of mine who died very young. As I wrote about Bando, I was trying to bring my friend back to life, and I think to an extent I succeeded.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

The most challenging thing for me was letting go of the story and deciding it was finally done. It had been a work in progress since I first scrawled notes about it forty years ago. No, that can’t be right, I’m not really that old.

Which authors have inspired your writing?

I have loved so many writers I can’t even list them, but in Double Take, the author who inspired me most was Raymond Chandler, who was able to convey the hardboiled beauty of his imaginary Los Angeles. That’s what I was going for.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m almost finished with a historical novel involving time travel.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Just keep writing, and don’t ever give up.

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