A Change of Pace, S. R. Mallery Visits


First of all, much thanks to Marilyn for going outside the box and allowing me to be included in this prestigious mystery group. Although I am primarily an historical fiction writer, I do love mysteries, in all shapes and sizes. However, what’s currently on my mind is…

Ancestors.  Are they simply some snapshots glued into photo albums buried deep inside our closets?  Do their edges come with little black corners or are they pasted in with a modern flare?  Do they make it out into the living room every ten years to show visiting relatives, or perhaps our sons’ latest dates, our daughters’ husbands?

I have always been fascinated by studying the faces and outfits of my cognates and wondered what their lives were really like.  Then one day, my grandmother sat me down and told me to write some names on the backs of their photos, since she was in her 90’s and after her, who would be there to do it?  That got me thinking.  Was this cousin really killed as a child by a streetcar?  Did my great-great spinster aunt in her late eighties actually blow a whistle to hail a cab?  What was it like for my relatives leaving Europe and arriving at Ellis Island? Were they scared? Frustrated?

Years later, lying in bed with my then 2 year old daughter, I was reading a short story my mother had written, and as I glanced down at this little being nestled up against me, I suddenly realized that there were actually three generations in bed with me.  Beyond that, since my mother’s story involved WWI prejudice, that conjured up all kinds of thoughts about German Americans–– their angst, their fear of reprisal, and their wish to assimilate.  Did my ancestors go through any of that?

Hence, my book, “Unexpected Gifts,” where the main character Sonia, a confused college student forever choosing the wrong man, searches for answers from an old, attic steamer trunk, filled with family diaries, journals, letters, and mementos. Guided by her mother, she begins to read her relatives’ stories from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, the Beatles, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the 1910 immigrant experience, the Henry Ford factory in Detroit, and the Suffragists.  Back and forth the book journeys, dovetailing yesteryear with Sonia’s life in the late 90’s, until finally, she begins to make some right choices.



“S.R. Mallery has caught the defining historic moments of one family…a rich and involving book, the author has written a gem.” ––Dorothy Salisbury Davis, A Gentle Murderer, Lullaby of Murder, The Pale Betrayer

“S. R. Mallery presents a fascinating journey through flashpoints of American history in an impressive, wonderfully thought out and well-told first novel.” ––Carla Davidson, former senior editor American Heritage Magazine

“In S. R. Mallery’s fine first novel each character’s distinctive voice helps make sense of the present by experiencing the past.  And who mattered.” ––Dan Vining, The Quick, The Next, Among the Living




S. R. Mallery has worn many hats in her life.  Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved onto the professional world of production art and calligraphy, followed by a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor.  Her short stories have been published in descent 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller and Down In the Dirt.  Unexpected Gifts is her debut novel.  Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, a collection, is due out late 2013.








I'm delighted to have you visiting me today, S. R., and your book sounds wonderful!
Thanks SO much for having me on, Marilyn! I certainly appreciate it !

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