“He’s hurt her, she’s bleeding.”
With the phone to her ear, Grace slips away from the soft spill of light coming through the kitchen windows and leans heavily on a refrigerator crowded with family photos. The upturned corners snap back against her spine.
“Grace Adams,” she says into the crackling void, twisting the phone cord in her fingers, “153 Summit Road.”
Grace waits, her fingertips darkening in the twist, a pulse forming inside the small purple blooms. Slim and fragile, she drowns amongst silk waves of carp swimming across a kimono three sizes too big for her. Her round face is as pale as a serving plate and a single strip of white cuts through her straight black hair. Between shallow breaths, she steals glances out the windows, turning this way and that, tangling her feet in the kimono’s hem. She bites hard into her fingernails, shredding one with her small white teeth. A thin line of blood follows a trail of dried cuticle. She presses thumb to it, trying to stop the flow.
“Yes, on the trails behind my house.” It’s as if she’s being smothered. With every word she gulps for air. “I saw him,” she says, “I saw him do it.”
-Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Bone Dust White by Karin Salvalaggio.
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Karin Salvalaggio: Broken promises. Broken hearts. Broken lives. Broken ice. Broken water.
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
KS: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? a short story by Joyce Carol Oates.
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
KS: A twist of bodies, a generous pinch of cynicism, ground down characters, lashings of sexual tension, grated nerves, whipped up emotions, a sprinkle of betrayal, a cup of redemption, an eyeful of beauty, a pounding of fists, a dash of hope, a fifth of JD and buckets of ice. Bone Dust White is a dish that is best served up cold.
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
KS: Wings of a Dove by Henry James.
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
KS: Who do you base your characters on? I look to the lost friends of my childhood. Being part of a military family, I moved around a great deal. It was the age before Internet so there are many people who simply disappeared from my life. I often worry about what happened to them. Even in my teens I could see that many of them were adrift, and I feared for their future. My writing is pure fiction, but the text is littered with the missing people of my youth. They are characters that lack the economic, social, and cultural resources most of us take for granted. The ground has shifted in America. Are they still standing? Where are they now? Do they still believe in the dream or has the dream broken them?
Get a copy of Bone Dust White at IndieBound.
Karin Salvalaggio received in MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck at the University of London. Born in West Virginia and raised in an Air Force family, she grew up on a number of military bases around the United States. She now lives in London with her two children. Bone Dust White is her first novel.