Today’s FACE is also Nashville’s newest novelist. After co-writing the blog Mason Dixon Knitting for the past nine years, and publishing two knitting books based on the tremendous response to the blog, she has ventured out of the world of non-fiction and into the world of fiction with the soon-to-be-released Bowling Avenue. An avid fan of Nashville with one of the quickest wits we know of, we introduce you to Ann Shayne.
Where did you grow up?
Born in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m still hoping to grow up someday.
When and why did you move to Nashville?
Moved to Nashville when I was ten, when my dad got a job at Vanderbilt and St. Thomas Hospital. My grandmother in Selma never got over us moving so far north.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given?
Apologize fast—do not let it fester.
Do you have any irrational fears?
It used to be public speaking, until I had to give talks at 20 yarn shops in a row with my knitting book co-author Kay Gardiner, who is a lawyer, and she showed me how to do it. For anybody with this terror, I highly recommend yarn shops as a practice ground, because knitters are more interested in the scarf they’re making than you, thereby lowering the stakes.
If you can recommend three books that every woman should read in her lifetime, what would they be?
- Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose. I read this shortly after getting married 22 years ago. I still think about the way it explores power in a marriage. PS Victorians were so, so weird and crazy.
- Take Your Time: Finding Balance in a Hurried World by Eknath Easwaran. Basic point: slow the $(% down. Things go better when we do them one at a time. I love this little book on meditation, and it seems more relevant than ever in our distracted age.
- Oh, for pity’s sake, every woman should read Bowling Avenue, my novel coming out any minute now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Parnassus. It’s a tale of real estate, disasters both natural and man-made, and love love love, set here in Nashville. Epic scenes take place at the Picnic, the Pineapple Room, and the Pancake Pantry. Early readers report that they can’t go to sleep until they find out what happens. It may be that they are also insomniacs or obsessive compulsives, but still. I’ll take what I can get.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Dinner with friends cannot be beat. Can we all resolve to have dinner with friends more often?
Event most looking forward to attending in May/June.
Rep on the River, this coming Sunday, May 20. It’s a party to benefit the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, featuring the songs of Roger Miller, my biggest musician crush of all time. So funny, so brilliant—I pretty much cried all the way through the Rep’s production of Big River, which features Miller’s songs.
What is your “must-have” purchase for summer 2012?
The older I get, the more I like to wrap myself up—shawls, wraps, throws, blankets, blue plastic tarpaulins. If you see a big pile of fabric with feet sticking out, that’ll be me. I just ordered my latest burrito-like fashion moment from ProudMary.com. You really should click that link as this cotton voile wrap is made by women in Mali and it’s gorgeous. The company, Proud Mary, is working with these beautiful artisans.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Nashville?
Nashville’s food scene is great, so it’s fun to find the latest new thing. But the cheapest, freshest, fast meal in town for us is the Vietnamese restaurant Kien Giang over on Charlotte. Their banh mi sandwich is French bread with pork, cilantro, and some crunchy white vegetable. Jicama? I dunno. So good. Also: bun #2, a cold noodle salad with shrimp, pork and heavenliness.
Favorite vacation spot?
My front hall, the minute we get back from a trip, dump all our bags, and kiss the ground of home sweet home.
Do you have a playlist for a dinner party that you can share with our readers?
I love music so much. This is a mix of stuff I listened to a lot while writing my novel.
- “Rye Whiskey,” Punch Brothers
- “Walkin’ in the Sunshine,” Roger Miller
- “Sun-eyed Girl,” Beck
- “Yellow Sun,” Raconteurs
- “Don’t Get Married Without Me,” Punch Brothers
- “King of the Road,” Roger Miller
- “Online,” Brad Paisley
- “Gold on the Ceiling,” The Black Keys
- “Pump It Up,” Elvis Costello
- “Breakin’ the Chains of Love,” Fitz and the Tantrums
- “Low,” Flo Rida (aw c’mon—“boots with the fur”!)
- “Cherry Lips,” Garbage
- “Cecilia,” Simon & Garfunkel
- “Son of a Preacher Man,” Dusty Springfield
- “Trouble No More,” Allman Brothers
- “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Bob Dylan
- “Gimmeakiss,” Avett Brothers
- “Tired of Waiting for You,” The Kinks
- “Sometime Around Midnight,” The Airborne Toxic Event
- “Cry, Cry Darling,” Chris Thile and Michael Daves
- “I’m Bound to Pack It Up,” White Stripes
- “Blackbird,” The Beatles
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God).
Sunglasses, my computer mouse, and milk in my coffee.
You were an early adopter to the blog world with your blog, Mason-Dixon Knitting. Can you tell our readers what inspired you to start your blog?
Oh, man, it was just that my friend Kay and I had started up this knitterly pen pal correspondence, never having met in person. This was in 2003, before Facebook or Twitter, when blogs were still new. We decided to turn our copious, blathering emails into a blog, and it grew from that. Never underestimate the energy of two women staying at home with small children. Also: we are wicked fast typists.
What about knitting inspires you?
Knitting itself is just a hobby, a little something to do. What’s inspiring are the hundreds of friends we have made along the way, all over the world. They do amazing things; they have taught me so much about generosity and kindness. They have also taught me how to do a centered double decrease, which is handy. We have about 150,000 readers a month, but honestly, I think of them all as friends at this point.
Your new book, Bowling Avenue, is scheduled to be published in a couple of weeks. Why did you decide to write a novel and what was your inspiration for the book?
Who doesn’t want to write a novel? I think everyone has a tale to tell, and the time came for me to start telling mine, a couple of months after the great flood of Nashville in 2010. I love tangly family stories, page-turners, and doomed love. I also love domestic fiction: Anne Tyler, Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, Willa Cather! High drama can happen when a doorbell rings. There are a lot of doorbells in my book. The main character in my story, Delia Ballenger, comes back to the Nashville she left behind, for what she thinks will be a simple real estate transaction. Somebody compared my story to The Descendants, and I am a) flattered and b) looking forward to George Clooney knocking on my door.
Your decision to self publish is interesting since your early career was in the publishing world. Why are you not going the traditional route?
My experience in publishing is exactly what led me to publish Bowling Avenue myself. I know the ins and outs of that process, and I love making books. It has been great fun—my sister-in-law who is a book editor edited it, and a local letterpress shop, Isle of Printing, is creating the cover. Ingram Book Company will be one of the sources for it. Very Nashville. It’ll be an ebook and a print-on-demand paperback edition. I like the fact that a book will be printed only when there’s an order for it—no piles of moldy inventory in a warehouse somewhere. Technology for this sort of publishing is so amazing these days.
Your new book will compete for the bestseller position with 50 Shades of Grey and the other two books in this trilogy. Why should we pick up Bowling Avenue over those books?
Because you won’t have to hide Bowling Avenue when your kids come in the room! In fact, the earliest readers of my novel were women who finished it, then passed it to their moms to read. Bowling Avenue is full of romance, but I’m happy to leave a lot of stuff to the reader’s imagination. Seriously, once you start writing about a couple tangling up, it sounds like you’re describing a game of Twister.
Thank you Ann and thank you Ashley Hylbert for your gorgeous photos each week for our FACES of Nashville feature. Check out Ashley for any of you photography needs and be sure to check out her blog for more pictures of Ann and all our FACES! Click here.