Five Things That Changed My Life: S.G. Redling

1984 by George Orwell

I read this early in high school – one of those assignments I waited until the last possible moment to complete, which resulted in my reading the entire book in one sitting. At this point in my life, I’d been reading a lot of horror and thrillers that, while dark, always ended with a certain flare of justice and righteousness. My young, naïve mind was wholly blown by the totality of Big Brother’s victory, that a book could go that far, that the “hero” could be so utterly dismantled. Plus, those rats…

“Crazy on You” by Heart

This is a visceral memory. I’m the youngest of four kids so I grew up listening to my siblings’ music, mostly late 70s rock, which I enjoyed in my kid way. But I remember very clearly riding along with my sister, Monica, in our 1977 Plymouth Duster with Crazy on You blasting out of the cheap speakers. Anne Wilson hit that part of the song where she sings “You kept me alive with your sweet flowing LOVE” She just roars that last word and, honest to god, all the hair on my arms stood up and I said “That rocks!” It was the first time I really understood what rock meant and that women could rock that hard. It was awesome.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

This was my lesson in humility. I read in Oprah Magazine one summer some news anchor listing War and Peace as her favorite book and I rolled my eyes, thinking ‘How pretentious.’ I felt compelled to speak with authority on the subject and picked up a copy, planning to read a hundred pages and then cast it aside in boredom to prove my point. Instead, I became obsessed with the story and could not put it down until I had read every word. Classic Literature – 1; Pretentious Youth – 0

“The Heiress”

My mother used to get me out of school to come home and watch her favorite movies, including this one. At first it seems a corny romance about a shy woman (Olivia de Havilland) being courted by a gold-digger (Montgomery Clift) while yearning to escape her overbearing father (Ralph Richardson). Then you get to the end – her father is dead, her lover returns begging her forgiveness, and she agrees to run off and marry him. All the romantic tropes scream “Happy ending!” Whwwen he shows up, however, she locks the door on him, leaving him screaming in the night. Her aunt asks her if she can be so cruel and she says, in that beautiful de Havilland way, “I can be very cruel. I was taught by masters.” Just so bad ass.

My Wonder Woman String art

When I was very young, my parents bought me a Wonder Woman string art kit. I suspect if I had wanted a string art pony or unicorn or teddy bear picture, I would have been out of luck, but they knew how much I loved Wonder Woman. She was my hero. She was my idol. So my poor, tool-hating father hammered six million tiny nails into the paper pattern to let me create this groovy homage. It’s still my most prized possession.

S.G. Redling

A fifteen-year veteran of morning radio, an avid traveler, and a so-so gardener, S.G. Redling currently lives in her beloved West Virginia. She is the author of six novels.  BAGGAGE, her latest, is in stores now.

Over the years, terrible things keep happening to Anna Ray on February 17. First, there was the childhood trauma she’s never been able to speak about. Then, to her horror, her husband killed himself on that date.

A year later and a thousand miles away, Anna tries to find solace in the fresh start of a new job in a new place. She takes comfort in her outspoken cousin Jeannie, the confidant and best friend who’s there whenever she needs help. On the day of the dreaded anniversary, Anna and Jeannie hit the town, planning to ease the pain with an alcohol-induced stupor and then sleep…

When Anna awakes the next morning, she thinks she can put one more February 17 behind her, but fate is about to intervene in the form of two gruesome murders with eerie similarities to her violent past. This time, however, she won’t be an abandoned daughter or a grieving widow. This time, she’ll be a suspect.