EVENING SUN: Can you tell our readers what to expect?
SHELLY REUBEN: Yes. Happily. On successive Fridays, beginning this week, The Evening Sun will be serializing my new novel, My Mostly Happy Life: Autobiography of a Climbing Tree.
EVENING SUN: Will you still be writing Tilting at Windmills?
SHELLY REUBEN: Yes and no. My monthly column will be on a temporary hiatus, but will resume after publication of the last chapter of my book.
EVENING SUN: What is My Mostly Happy Life about?
SHELLY REUBEN: It’s an adult fairytale. But young people will like it, too. And it isn’t about witches, dragons, or princes who turn into toads, but about a tree who has gone through harrowing experiences, and as the title suggests, is going to tell us his life story.
EVENING SUN: The tree is male?
SHELLY REUBEN: Yes. He’s very masculine, and he has a wonderful basso profundo voice.
EVENING SUN: I understand that the story was inspired by things that you have seen and experienced in the area. Can you tell us about some of them?
SHELLY REUBEN: First and foremost are the trees in front of the library in Unadilla. Not only are they beautiful, they positively beg to be climbed. Below is a photo of me with one of them.
Another storyline was inspired by the terrible flooding in Chenango County in 2006 and 2011.
EVENING SUN: Isn’t it unusual for an adult novel to have illustrations?
SHELLY REUBEN: Now, yes. But in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, most adult fiction was serialized and illustrated in newspapers and magazines before being published as books. The works of great authors like H. G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens were all accompanied by drawings. For years, I’ve regretted the loss of that great tradition, so with my editor’s blessings, we decided to bring it back.
EVENING SUN: Can you tell us about your illustrator?
SHELLY REUBEN: Her name is Ruth McGraw. She grew up in Afton, and she’s just marvelous. When you look at her artwork, I’m certain you’ll think, “Wow. That’s exactly the way I imagined it,” and that will add to your enjoyment of my book.
EVENING SUN: Is there anything else you would like to add?
SHELLY REUBEN: Just that I am excited to introduce you to Samuel Swerling, an inventor who created the park where my climbing tree lives; his wife Ghita, who thinks that she married an impractical man; Sam’s granddaughter Esther, who is also an inventor and inherited the responsibility of protecting the park; Esther’s best friend Pegeen, who enchants cockatiels; Winton the ferret; Merritt Jones, the fireman; evil Jarvis Larchmont, who wants to destroy Sam Swerling’s park; and oh so many other characters that I’m sure you will enjoy!
EVENING SUN: Any advice to readers before we embark on Chapter One?
SHELLY REUBEN: Yes. Have a wonderful time !!!