Renee Swindle of Oakland recently published her second novel, Shake Down the Stars.
Swindle, who earned her BA in English from UC Irvine and an MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University, is an adjunct professor of English and has taught freshman composition, literature and creative thinking at Diablo Valley College, San Ramon Campus, for six years.
Her novel was published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Random House.
“In Shake Down The Stars,” Swindle said, “Piper, the protagonist, is trying to overcome a tragic loss. Years before the start of the novel, she lost her child in a car accident and can’t seem to move on in life. She spends an unhealthy amount of time with her ex-husband, drinks too much and sleeps around, and her family is no help at all. Her mother is married to a celebrity evangelist and only advises her to pray; her sister has no time for her or anyone else because she’s planning a wedding to a famous football player. While certain events in Piper’s life are heartbreaking, the novel is also uplifting and even comedic, thanks to the friendships Piper makes along the way. Readers and reviewers alike have said they both laughed and cried while reading the novel, which is exactly what I was aiming for.”
Among the reviews, Dish Magazine wrote “Wonderfully memorable . . . Her characters dance on the page.” RT Book Review said, “Shake Down The Stars is a true gem. Beautifully written, it’s full of emotional impact that touches the heart without weighing the reader down. Themes of love, loss and addiction will reach into the soul.”
Swindle said the story is not based on her life, nor on the life of anyone she knows.
“I start with voice when I write, so I guess you can say I let the narrator dictate the story,” she explained. “When I started Shake Down The Stars I saw a woman standing alone in a room while her family celebrated an event in another part of the house.” The story came to her over time. “I didn’t necessarily want to write anything depressing or heavy, but I stayed with Piper because I wanted to see if she’d find happiness again. I honestly didn’t know how the novel would end.”
Her first novel, Please Please Please, was published by Random House more than 10 years ago. It became a Blackboard bestseller and was also published in Germany and Japan.
Her next novel, A Pinch of Ooh La La, comes out in July 2014