Comedian W. C. Fields is credited with advising that one should never work with children or animals for fear of being upstaged. Hollis Gillespie, Atlanta author and humor columnist, proved she isn’t much of a rule-follower at last night’s launch party for her new book, Unaccompanied Minor. A sweet rescue puppy in a sweater sometimes trembled, oftentimes slept, on various human laps during Gillespie’s book talk. The pup, who was later displayed in a cardboard “Captain Beefheart’s Puppy Kissing Booth,” was there to commemorate the rescue dog featured in the novel and to raise money for local animal rescue.
As for the children part of Fields’s equation, teen and tween audience members flanked the author on all sides as she read an excerpt from the book. One precocious heckler challenged a few of Gillespie’s “Top Twenty Ways to Keep Your Young Ass from Gettin’ Killed.” After one such interjection, Gillespie quipped, “Somebody needs to put her on YouTube.”
While Unaccompanied Minor is Gillespie’s fourth book, it is her first foray into young adult fiction. The novel has already hijacked a glowing review from Kirkus. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Fourteen-year-old April May Manning spent her life on airplanes with her flight attendant parents. When her father dies in a crash, April’s mom marries a pilot who turns out to be an abusive jerk, and gets Mom confined to a psychiatric hospital. So April takes off, literally, living on airplanes, using her mother’s flight benefits, relying on the flight crews who know she’s been shuttling between divorcing parents for a year. Then, there’s a hijacking, but why is April’s “dad” on board? April flees to the cargo hold with another unaccompanied minor she’s met before, and they fight to thwart the hijackers, faking a fire, making weapons from things they find in luggage. At last, locked in the cockpit with a wounded police officer, the boy, and his service dog, April tries to remember everything her parents said to do in a crisis above the clouds. But she knows it won’t be enough.
The story is well-informed by Gillespie’s experience as an international flight attendant. She confessed during her launch that she is a nervous flyer and that she and other flight attendants once temporarily misplaced an “unaccompanied minor,” the airline industry’s term for an underage passenger who is flying without an adult chaperone. Gillespie says she wrote large portions of her three memoirs–Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch, Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Trailer Trashed–during down time on transatlantic flights. She writes the back page column for Atlanta Magazine and offers a menu of classes at her Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. To learn more about Hollis Gillespie, visit her website at hollisgillespie.com.