Can you hear that? No, seriously, listen hard ... Yep, that's the sound of me crying. I'm bringing you my final author interview in my best and worst series and I'm gutted! All the fab people I've gotten to know through this has been absolutely awesome and I'm going to miss it. But, it's time to say goodbye and for a change, of course.
But, I'm ending the series on a fabulously high note as I'm delighted to introduce you to not only a superbly talented young lady (and trust me, I've read her words and wow!), but also a wonderful, supportive, and upbeat soul.
Sage Webb spent over a decade writing legal briefs in the field of federal criminal defense before turning to fiction. Her debut novel, The Unremarkable Circumstances of Inmate 17656-090, won the Permian Basin Writers Workshop 2017 manuscript contest for general/literary fiction.
For short stories, her piece "Queen" won second place in the 2017 Hackney Literary Awards, her story "Rings" earned semi-finalist status in Ruminate Magazine's 2018 William Van Dyke Short Story Contest, and her work "Dispute" was the overall winner of the Wild Words 2017 Winter Solstice Competition (based in the U.K.).
In nonfiction, she writes for a Gulf Coast health-and-wellness magazine and her essay "Mahogany Pilgrimage" received honorable mention in Flyway's 2017 Notes from the Field Contest. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and Read Local. Sage and her husband live on a fifty-year-old wooden trawler in Galveston Bay with a ship’s cat named Ines and Jackson, the boat dog.
In this modern-day twist on the idea of the Good Thief, an abused young man fights for a new life and falls in love with two adventurous itinerants on a small sailboat only to face an indictment for receiving child pornography and become federal inmate 17656-090.
Before his conviction, the young man leaves Michigan and the abuse of his childhood in search of a new life on Galveston Bay. Serving sandwiches beside the tourist boardwalk, he meets failure-haunted Grayson and affection-seeking Blair, who invite him into the world of the little sailboat on which they live. The threesome builds the family none of them has ever known, and will-be inmate 17656-090 believes he’s just about made it to the mythic “beach in California” of his dreams—until Blair starts dating another man and Grayson makes a confusing romantic overture.
When a federal agent knocks with an arrest warrant based on an indictment for receiving child pornography, the world of the little boat crumbles and the will-be inmate must answer charges for looking at the pictures that had helped him make sense of all he’d suffered. Speaking with his crusading public defenders and the psychologist who declares he presents no danger of a “hands-on” offense, he begins to hope for the best in the face of the mandatory five-to-twenty-year sentencing range until Grayson appears at the U.S. Attorney’s Office with another laptop.
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An Excerpt from Sage's Novel ...
Mr. Donaldson rises, steps to the podium, places his legal pad in front of him.
“Your honor, my client is twenty-four years old, and these twenty-four years have not been very good to him. But this young man has done just about everything in his limited power to dig out of the hole into which he was born, in which he found himself through no fault of his own. He’s worked, he’s tried to provide for his sister and her children, he earned a high school diploma. And probably most remarkably, he’s stayed optimistic. He has cultivated some deep, pro-social relationships, and he likes to read. And something that stood out to me markedly: he moved to the Galveston area and learned to sail sailboats. Now, I know nothing about boats. I don’t even fish, even though I love my summers in the Upper Peninsula. But this young man, from very, very humble circumstances, somehow found his way onto a sailboat with a woman, a platonic friend, who knows how to race these boats. And he learned to sail. When he talks about it—and that isn’t often; he’s quiet, humble—he lights up. One afternoon at the jail, he told me a story about driving—sailing—a boat from the north end of Galveston Bay down to Galveston Island. He told me how he and his friends anchored the boat and rowed to shore and went to the beach. He told me how they returned to the boat and barbequed and told stories and spent the weekend anchored on this boat.”
Mr. Donaldson pauses, and the courtroom uncurls, stretches. It pays attention to what it seems to consider an unlikely tale.
“I tell the court this story because it strikes me that this young man is more than what the indictment and the presentence report describe. Yes, he suffered terrible—unspeakable—abuse from the time he was five years old. He has been beaten, raped, humiliated, and tortured. But he hasn’t stopped. In fact, I’d say this young man could teach each one of us some lesson about living. He has kept on living, and I daresay has enjoyed parts of his recent past, namely some friendships and the sailing.”
The room quiets, hollows out. I feel the table under my folded hands melt, flex, ripple. Sucking at the air, I drop softly through space out of the wood-paneled nave—down, down—to land on the deck of Narwhal. Grayson and Blair cast off the lines one last time, and I point the little boat toward Cuba one last time, and I am free one last time.
"The sights, sounds, and smells of the Texas Gulf Coast come to life in this unusual but captivating work. Regardless of which side one takes, Sage Webb courageously dwells where few have dared, and boldly questions public policy and basic notions of justice. Webb crafts a subtle tale of a wounded protagonist who gets in well over his head vis-à-vis perplexing laws and persistent attitudes. We are drawn into the colorful lives of a group of close-knit but lovably flawed friends. What started off as the protagonist’s act of self-medication, an attempt to heal from abuse, turned out to be a profound mistake that forever changed not only his life but those of everyone around him. Prejudging aside, this work will provoke obliging discussions about a topic best left undiscussed."
Jaime Salazar, Author of Legion of the Lost and Escaping the Amazon
THE BEST & WORST OF SAGE
Best Book - My favorite book (look at my terrible American spelling!) has long been the Iliad. It’s so fundamental in many ways: fundamental human frailty, fundamental human longings, fundamental plot lines. . . . It’s all there. I also love The Sun Also Rises. I didn’t “get” Hemingway as a kid, but he really speaks to me now.
Best Band - Oh, that’s tough. I like Latin dance music, especially bachata. But if I had to pick one band, maybe it’d be Gypsy Kings. Before I moved to Texas, I couldn’t do country at all, but it’s grown on me and I’d recommend John Baumann to writers: the man has a real gift with lyrics—his songs are bite-sized short stories.
Best Song / Worst Song - Aaahhh! Another tough one. I’d say “Timing Is Everything.” A country song by Garrett Hedlund. My husband plays guitar and that’s “our song.” He strums that one and I melt. Guilty pleasure: “Vivir Mi Vida” (Marc Anthony). Get my pumping: Orff’s “O Fortuna.” Worst?! Yikes. “Pour Some Sugar on Me”—not because it’s a bad song, but because it’s the only song I karaoke to and I’m a HORRIBLE singer.
Best Holiday / Worst Holiday - Best holiday?! The one you “sneak”: when you play hooky from work and go surfing. Also America’s Memorial Day. I lived in Michigan for over a decade and winters there are killer! Memorial Day ushered in summer! Worst . . . well, I’ll get serious. My family had some biggish bumps in its road when I was a kid (and maybe that comes out in my writing in a couple places). I’ll just say I haven’t had to celebrate Mothers’ Day in a long, long time. It hasn’t been a big thing since I was quite young, but every once in a while, I feel that “hole.”
Best Animal - CATS!!!!!! We have an awesome ship’s cat/pirate kitty and a wonderful boat dog. But I’m a cat person all the way.
Best Item of Clothing - Rash guard for watersports! Worst: winter clothes!!!!
Best Food / Worst Food - Best?!?!?! Ice cream? Pizza? Crepes? Gelato? Don’t make me pick!!! Worst: olives . . . and cucumbers.
Best Drink / Worst Drink - Best: my husband’s special virgin Margaritas!!!! Da bomb! Worst?! I don’t do coffee. My husband’s an addict. I never touch the stuff.
Best Alcoholic Drink / Worst Alcoholic Drink - My drinking has been very limited. I just don’t have a taste for it. But for book research, I tried Sunny Delight + Vodka. Ya know? It worked. Worst?! Beer!!!! My husband loves his IPA. I don’t get it.
Best Friend - Husband, sister, and an amazing woman/dance friend/singer I lost to colon cancer a couple years ago. I miss her tons.
Best Writing Moment - It’s also the scariest: having people buy my book!!!
Best Childhood Memory - I’ll skip the worst here. Best . . . hmmmmm. I had a pony when I was a kid. That’s hard to top. And I rock climbed a lot, and I used to lead multi-pitch stuff and aid climb. That was pretty cool.
Best Word / Worst Word - Antidisestablishmentarianismist and pusillanimous. Because they are just darn fun. Worst: can’t. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at an event I attended and reminded us that “Old man Can’t is dead . . . and I helped bury him.”
Best Shop - Little book shops with cats!!!!!
Best Sport - Sailing? Diving? Worst: running!!!! I hate to run.
Best Job - I’d like to be a mascot/character in a suit. Worst: lawyering when the deadlines are crushing you.
Best Saying - See above: “Old man Can’t is dead and I helped bury him.” Justice Clarence Thomas (and his grandpa).
Best Teacher / Worst Teacher - Same for both: Experience. You really learn from her, but she beats the tar out of you at times.
Best Time of Day / Worst Time of Day - Worst: I’m not a morning person. Best time: when I’m with my husband and/or on the water.
Best Room - The cabin on a boat!
Best Day Ever / Worst Day Ever - Best days: involve the beach. Worst days: when you don’t get outside!
Best Smell / Worst Smell - Best: plumeria flowers and magnolias. Worst: fish offal stink in the harbor of Kona, Hawai`i, on hot days when I was in college!
Best TV Show - OK, I got a little addicted to Breaking Bad. My husband did Shameless. I did NOT!
Best Gadget - Those weird circular apple slicers that you push over an apple to slice it!!!
Best Sound / Worst Sound - Best: ocean sounds, silence (we don’t get enough!), my husband playing guitar and singing. Worst: the ding of MORE email coming in. My life and work involve too much email!
Best Restaurant - There’s this cute local chain in West Michigan called Russ’s. Homemade food cheap. Not low calorie. Good for feeding sweet teeth (plural of sweet tooth?!)
Best Movie / Worst Movie - Best: Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsled team. Worst: anything horror! Plus I don’t do the blow-‘em-up ones.
Best Time of Year / Worst Time of Year - Summer rocks. People just seem more chill in summer. Summer means boats and boards and beaches. Winter is kinda sad. Staying inside is sad.
Best School Subject / Worst School Subject - I was pretty good in English and with languages and, in law school, I loved jurisprudence and legal theory. Worst: do not ask me to do math or tax!
Best Body Part / Worst Body Part - Your eyes—to read and see the world! Worst: my, ahem, girth when I get a little liberal with the sweets.
Yes! I am there with you hiding from the math questions! But probably not when it comes to watching horror! Thanks for being my final victim, Sage. Good luck with the book. :)
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