Title: George Bailey Gets Saved in the End
Author: Ken O’Neill
Published: October 17th, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Recommended Age: 18+
George Bailey, who has made a fortune selling Christmas ornaments, is having a rough few days. He’s thrown his back out lifting the Thanksgiving turkey; his father has died and his wife has left him. He’d turn to his best friend for support, but said BFF is having an affair with his wife.
Let the holiday season begin!
On the heels of all this misery George meets a new woman, and he also meets Jesus (or perhaps just an awfully nice guy named Jesus). As he scrambles to hold together his floundering family, he must figure out if these strange and wondrous events are miracles or symptoms of a nervous breakdown.
Excerpt from George Bailey Gets Saved in the End:
All the usual invitations had been extended. Yet oddly, not a single friend—The Strays, they always called them—joined the Baileys for dinner this year. The lack of guests in no way altered the quantity of food the family prepared. It mattered not whether thirty people attended, or just the eight of them. As far as George’s mother, Claire, and his wife, Tara, were concerned, you could not call the day Thanksgiving unless the turkey weighed more than twenty-five pounds. Theirs weighed in at record-breaking twenty-nine point four. Add the stuffing, all the pan drippings, and the cast iron Le Creuset roasting pan to that number, and George was hoisting a weight just shy of forty pounds when his back went out.
Considering George’s relative level of fitness, which was extremely high by American standards, though only average when compared to other Manhattanites, he did not believe it was the weight per se that precipitated his injury. Rather he suspected his troubles were brought on because he had been forced to crouch down when removing the turkey because his wife, for reasons still unknown to him, insisted that the bird go in the lower oven. Not that George blamed her for his mishap. Just at the moment George was taking the pan out of the oven, he remembered being told something about bending with his knees. But by then it was too late. Something deep within his core seized up. As his knees buckled, he lurched forward to the sound of Tara shouting, “Don’t you dare drop that bird, George!”
George spent most of the day alternating between ice packs and a heating pad, because his wife said cold but his mother said hot, and he figured it was easier just to keep them both happy.
What was the inspiration for your story?
A couple of things: My grandmother. But also, unusually for me, I just wrote a scene one day where a man and a woman meet in a bar and talk about It’s A Wonderful Life (among other things.) I really don’t know where the idea came from. It felt more like channeling than writing. Even as it was pouring out, I knew I liked these two people. I wrote for four or five hours. On that first day I was calling George Bailey, Jimmy Stewart. And a lot of details were fuzzy, especially about him.
When I finished work that day, I knew I had a book. But I still didn’t know what it was really about. For those of you reading GEORGE BAILEY GETS SAVED in the END, that days work (after many, many rewrites) is chapter nine of the novel, which begins on page 97. So there was a great deal of figuring out and writing to get George to meet Carolyn and another 250 pages to tell and resolve their story.
What kept you going throughout the writing process?
Coffee, of course. And my genuine love for these characters. Also, I didn’t let myself eat chocolate until I’d finished work for the day—that’ll keep you going.
Who is your most meaningful character and why?
This is impossible for me to answer, but I’ll answer it anyway. J I have to pick Nan, the grandmother. She is essentially my actual grandmother. (I was very lucky to have her.) I placed her into a fictitious family, the Baileys. What’s interesting to me about Nan-the-character is the positive impact she’s had on so many of the others in the book. She’s not even really a character in the story as she’s already dead before the book begins, and yet her presence is so often felt.
Can we expect to hear more from these characters in the near future?
Sadly, no. This is a stand-alone novel, and I don’t have a plan for a sequel. But, I do love these characters and would love to revisit them at some point. Perhaps tell someone’s story other than George’s like Finn or Tara. Though right now, I’m working on something entirely different.
How has this story touched your life?
When I’m working on a book I think about story and I think about character. Also, because I write humor I obsess about whether a situation is funny, while also still being truthful. (For me the humor part is the biggest challenge, but it’s also the most rewarding when it works.)
What I don’t think about while writing are the themes. And yet, when I read finished drafts of a story I’ve written those bigger themes or arcs become apparent to me. So much of George Bailey Gets Saved in the End is about people (George, but the other characters, too) trying to become kinder, gentler, more forgiving human beings. It’s such a basic lesson, though the behavior can be so challenging to achieve. The book has reminded me of the importance of forgiving yourself and others.
What motivated you to start writing?
Once upon a time I was an actor who hated auditioning, so I quit the business. But as time went by I realized I missed doing creative work. I can’t paint or play an instrument. Turns out I can write. And unlike acting, I get to play every single role!
About the Author:
Ken O’Neill is the author of The Marrying Kind, which won the 2012 Rainbow Award for best debut, and the 2013 Independent Publisher Award Silver Medal for LGBT fiction. The Marrying Kind was also a finalist for the 2013 International Book Award in the Gay and Lesbian fiction category. The book was included on Smart Bitches Trashy Books list of top three favorite novels of 2012.
Ken lives in NYC with his husband and their two cats who think they’re dogs or, perhaps, people. When Ken is not checking his Amazon rating to see if anyone has purchased his books, he enjoys reading, dancing (though usually only when no one is watching) and eating dark chocolate, purely for medicinal reasons. He is at work on his third novel. Visit him at: kenoneillauthor.com
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
- Signed, print copy of George Bailey Gets Saved in the End (US only)
- 2 ecopies of George Bailey Gets Saved in the End (International)
Giveaway ends November 21st at 11:59 PM (ET)
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