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Breakwater Books Ltd.

Sooley, Jill




2013-04-18 12:30:49: Nomination was created
2013-04-18 12:34:58: payment successful from Paypal (order 44)

Rebecca Rose


Breakwater Books Ltd.

Feature film


A native of St. John’s, NL, Jill Sooley’s first two novels, The Widows of Paradise Bay and Baggage, were sold to German and Italian publishers, and film rights to her first book were sold to a German production company. Sooley currently resides in Long Island, New York.

-Widows of Paradise Bay tranlastion rights sold to Germany and Italy, film rights sold to Germany
-Baggage translation rights sold to Germany and Italy
-Both books to be purchased and translated by French Canadian publishing house
-Both books under consideration with publishers in ten other international territories
-Both books reviewed and interviewed in national publication, including the Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire
-Author has media relations and communications background
-Author has dual citizenship for US and CAN and contacts in both countries
-Author involved in US book clubs and book store promotions

Single-mother Marie marries Ray, a widowed father - but her idyllic expectations of a blended family are shattered, when Ray dies, leaving Marie widowed herself.

In Baggage, multiple narratives tell the heart wrenching, uplifting story of three women drawn by the gravitational pull of fathers and lovers to a place where they’ll ultimately find one another. Following the death of her husband, Marie Sullivan struggles to repair the bonds that unite her with her daughter, Floss, and with Lolly, the stepdaughter she never understood. After a chance encounter with her estranged biological father in a cancer ward, Floss returns home seeking self-renewal. Instead, she finds a relationship with a recently divorced man whose loyalty to his young daughter threatens his ability to find happiness. And Lolly, the stepdaughter who never fit in, now shares custody of her own son with her childhood sweetheart, Gabe. How long can she hide the stepfamily she’s taken for granted as she rushes headlong into a romance with a man who has secrets of his own? In an honest and revealing portrayal of modern relationships and blended families, Baggage reminds us that love runs thicker than bloodlines.

The characters are incredibly well established, and the various scenarios of coming to terms with the feelings of being a parent and step-parent, the dynamics of blended families, and all the confused longing therein are amazingly rich and real.

Lolly – never felt comfortable in her place in the stepfamily. She attempts to break away from her old relationship with Gabe, the father of her child, and finds a new love interest. But having a child together means Gabe factors in her life more than she would like. Things are further complicated when Lolly discovers that her new man has a secret of his own.

Floss – the peacemaker, Floss has always been haunted by her insecurities. She starts dating a divorced man whose devotion to his child supersedes everything, and has to decide whether the complicated relationship – marred by her own building jealousy -- is worthwhile.

Marie – the flawed but genuine matriarch about whom most everything involving the other two main characters revolves. She struggles to repair the bonds that unite her with Floss, her daughter, and Lolly, the stepdaughter she never understood.

Complicated relationships/Mothers and Daughters - the core strength of Jill Sooley’s Baggage lies in the voices of the three women, their complicated bonds,and their loves and internal dilemmas. Stepfamilies are increasingly common –comprising 40% of married couples with children in the US -- but have yet to be widely captured in contemporary fiction. Marie thinks that with new husband Ray she’s found a new family, but could never anticipate his death, her step-daughter’s resentment, and her daughter’s proclivity to make all the same mistakes. Step-daughter Lolly has always felt isolated, different, and distant from her step- sister and step-mother: the significant strain on these relationships is universal to all types of families.

Romantic love –. The romantic beginnings of Marie’s relationship with Ray, her then- new, and now deceased husband, are shown through flashback and memories. Floss, her daughter, pursues a romance with a man whose devotion to his child interferes in the relationship, keeping him from really engaging in a serious commitment with Floss. Step-daughter Lolly keen to move forward with new love interests, tries to finally end a relationship with her high school sweetheart that keeps her bound to her past.

Location is established as important for understanding the human dynamics right from the beginning of the novel, which opens with a great passage about coming home to the airport. The story is set in Newfoundland but the details paint the locations with much greater clarity for far-off readers making it feel like it could be any city or town. It offers plenty of opportunity for various scenes and locations: restaurant scenes, hospital scenes, stores, various houses of the individuals and their love interests, airports, etc.

Female Teens
Women 18–34
Women 35–54

Baggage is like “Stepmom” for the blending of a new family told primarily from the women’s point of view, but like “In Her Shoes” for displaying the complicated and strained relationships between sisters and mothers.


Excerpt from Baggage by Jill Sooley.
Breakwater Books, Fall 2012

Marie’s first husband ran out and left her to raise their daughter, Floss, by herself. Marie later marries Ray, a widower, who also has a daughter, Lolly. This scene is presented from Marie’s perspective as she eaves drops on Lolly and Floss who are planning something for their Christmas visit to Marie’s sister’s.

They were teenagers now and neither one of them wanted to be at Doris’ for supper. I was surprised when Lolly suggested they bake brownies to bring over for dessert and I listened to the two of them in the kitchen from my living-room chair. They were cooking up more than brownies from the sound of it. I pretended to be reading the paper but I focused on the sounds coming from the kitchen, imagining the two of them stirring and mixing and licking the bowl, their faces covered in chocolate. It filled me with such euphoria to hear them cracking eggs and whispering like real sisters that it took every ounce of concentration to sit still.
“I don’t know why I have to go,” Lolly whined. “I mean it’s not like your aunt wants to see me, or my Dad for that matter. I don’t think she likes either one of us.”
“Yes she does. Doris is just protective of my mom,” I heard Floss say in response. “She used to think your Dad was using her, at least at first. I used to overhear Mom on the phone talking to Aunt Doris about Ray.”
“You mean for sex,” Lolly said casually.
“Eww, no,” Floss responded emphatically. “I mean Doris thought he was using her so that she’d look after you.”
“She doesn’t look after me,” Lolly protested.
Yes she does. I knew Floss, and I knew that was exactly what she said in her head.
“That’s the same as saying she married my Dad so you could have a father.”
“That’s stupid,” Floss retorted. “I didn’t have a father for years. What would I need one for all of a sudden? Maybe they just fell in love.”
Lolly was uncomfortable with the notion that Ray could actually be in love with me. I think she’d have rathered Ray married me to give her a mother. At least she could make sense out of that.
“Don’t take any offence. Doris didn’t like my real father either,” Floss added. “She didn’t care too much for her own husband, for that matter. They got divorced when Ted was just a little baby. I don’t think she likes men, period. Except for her precious boy, Ted.”
Lolly giggled, a genuinely happy sound that spilled out from the kitchen into the living room and tickled my own lips. I wished I could talk to her the way Floss was, wished I could make her laugh like that.
“What do you think she’s going to bring up first?” Lolly’s voice was filled with mirth and mischief. “Ted or her collection of spoons?”
“Definitely Ted,” Floss replied. “I already heard her talking to mom on the phone about his marks in university, how he’s tutoring high school kids because he’s so smart.”
“I bet she talks about her spoons. It’s right after Christmas and I bet she got a new one. If she brings up spoons first then you have to shout out the name of the boy you likes in front of everyone.”
“And if she brings up Ted first?”
“I’ll shout out the name of the boy I like.”
“But everyone knows it’s Gabe,” Floss said dismissively. “What’s the fun in that? If she brings up Ted first you have to curse—the F word.”

Doris took the pan of brownies from me as soon as we arrived. She peeked inside the foil, sniffed in the chocolate smell. “This looks some delicious,” she said. “Did you make it?”
“The girls made it,” I responded proudly. “They’ve been cooking up quite a bit today.”
“Well come on in. Let me get you a drink. A rye and seven for you, Ray?” She went off into the kitchen, clinking glasses and mixing drinks. The girls sat together looking nervous, kept whispering to one another and giggling. I didn’t think either one of them would actually do it, no matter what Doris said. She handed them both envelopes stuffed with equal denominations of twenty dollar bills and told them to buy something for themselves at the mall. Even when she handed over the envelopes, I could tell she was still thinking about the year she forgot, still feeling just as bad about it as she did right in the moment. Lolly had a way of doing that to you, and she wasn’t even aware of it.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say Doris was onto them. She talked about the neighbour’s cat having a litter of kittens. She was thinking about taking one. She talked about the rain and how much we were after having already this year. She was sad we were having a green Christmas but grateful at the same time, since it was hard to get around in the snow. She asked Ray about work. It was a long wait before the brownie pan was placed on the table and she went to get a knife to cut the brownies, only to come back with a new spoon.
“Look at what Ted got me for Christmas.” She held it up in her hand for all of us to see. Lolly and Floss were gaping at one another. There was no clear winner or loser. “He bought it for me into the university to add to my collection. He’s doing some good in there. Got high marks in everything, even in the math.”
Floss’ eyes darted back and forth and she smiled nervously, clasped her hands out in front of her. “Andrew Wheeler!” Floss shouted it at the top of her lungs and stared down at Lolly. Before anyone could ask what she was talking about, Lolly shouted, “Fuck!” just as loudly.
Doris’ mouth dropped to the table. She looked at me, expecting me to yell at the two of them. Ray looked at me too. He was waiting for me to shoot him a look, a look that meant he should have a talk with Lolly about her foul mouth. I laughed instead. Then Floss started and then Lolly too. There were peals of laughter, so much we couldn’t stop, couldn’t even catch our breath. I had a pain in my back and another one in my side from laughing so much. Doris looked quizzically at the three of us, laughing so hard there were tears. Tears that didn’t even taste the least bit salty. It was like the sweetness from the brownies had glazed them in sugar. Poor Ray looked on at us in confusion. He didn’t know what had just happened but he got caught up in the moment enough to laugh too.
“I love you, Doris,” I said, gasping for air between fits of laughter. She was my sister and this was the kind of thing sisters did. I couldn’t stop laughing. The same way I couldn’t stop crying some nights. I love you, Ray. I love you, Floss. And I love you too, Lolly.

Everyone, from every kind of family, has baggage. This is a story that’s relatable to a wide audience on many different levels: it’s a mother/daughter story, a romance, and a family drama, all rolled into one. With just the right mix of humor and heartbreak, audiences will be enamored with genuine characters in situations that are topical and familiar to them.

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