A chat with Alice Sink, author of 'The Girls Next Door'

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comJune 14, 2013 

Name: Alice Sink

Book: "The Girls Next Door"

Publisher: Alabaster Book Publishing

Residence: Kernersville, N.C., and Hilton Head Island part-time

Where to buy: online retailers Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Plot summary in 50 words or less: After a spring storm ravages their sanctuary, the Palmetto Church of the Brethren relocates to a warehouse outside of town where they're forced to share a parking lot with an unlikely neighbor -- the Pink Alligator Strip Club.

First sentence: "'Let's get this straight from the get-go, Sexy.'"

Previous experience: Sink has written about two dozen works of fiction and nonfiction. The former English professor at High Point University started to pick up her writing in retirement. She's written extensively for The History Press in their "Wicked" series examining the underbelly of North Carolina towns. She's written three books involving Hilton Head ("Hidden History of Hilton Head," "No (Wo)Man is an Island," "Fleeing the Devil: Escape to Hilton Head Island").

Early writing experience: As a fifth-grader, she and a classmate were giving permission to publish a student newspaper. Shortly off the press, the duo were called into the principal's office. An "unbecoming" reference to the school nurse in the paper caused a minor controversy. Their journalism career was short-lived. The principal collected the papers and destroyed them.

What prompted the novel: The novel is based on a real-life news account of a church next door to a strip club. The book itself avoids the more tawdry side of the sex business and focuses on the characters' lives intertwining. "It's PG," Sink said. "It's a very sweet story about different cultures that become neighbors."

Story behind the cover: Sink asked her 17-year-old grandson, Jackson, to design the cover. He wasn't taken aback by topic or that his grandmother was writing about it. "He said, 'Oh, Granny, I know what strip clubs are.' I said, 'Well, this isn't your ordinary strip club.'"

Writer's quirk: Sink starts writing at 5:30 a.m. She writes for about five or six hours each day. She starts by revising the previous day's text before moving on to new material.

Why the Lowcountry: The Palmetto Church of the Brethren is in the fictional Lowcountry town of Braxton. Sink and her husband have been coming to Hilton Head for about 20 years.

Favorite author: Sink particularly enjoys Southern authors, such as Reynolds Price. "I love his novel 'Kate Vaiden.' In fact, I had the opportunity to teach it to a group of students from Russia. That was quite an experience. Try explaining Southern terms like 'grip' and 'sugar' to students from another country."

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