At book signings I’m often asked:
The real question is:
How did I sort through the hundreds of ideas that popped into my head and choice those particular two tales?
My only answer to the second question is that I believe there are no wrong stories to tell. I pick a plot and write. It’s a bit like choosing a mate. Is one man a better fit than another? Who knows? Pick one. Fall in love. Give it your best shot and see where you end up.
The big difference is that I’ve already fallen in love with and written a dozen books. I’ve only had two husbands.
Now, for the easy question. How did I come by the inspiration to write my books?
Several of my husband old friends from his home town of Americus, Georgia visited us when we lived in the country of Panama. I love these folks. Downhome, straightforward, lovely people. Opinionated. Born and raised in an isolated area where they know every single family within twenty miles of home and are related to a good many. A place where the typical greeting when meeting someone on the sidewalk in front of the post office or at the Piggly Wiggly is, “How’s yo mama ‘n them?”
Living in Panama, Jack and I had a fair number of Panamanian friends. Go back up and re-read that last paragraph about folks from southern Georgia, please. Same, exact description for Panamanians. Except when a Panamanian runs into you in front of the post office they kiss you on both cheeks and ask, “Que es su familia?”
So, you’d think that, when these two groups got together there would be a lot of mutual admiration and understanding, right? Very, very wrong. Eso no es justo.
Think fireworks and sparks and narrowly avoided pitfalls.
Which is why I wrote Redneck Goddess, a book about a young woman from south Georgia who falls in love with a gorgeous Panamanian man and brings him home to meet her a big, loving, quirky family.
Okay, on to Bigfoot Blues.
If you read my biography, you’ll see that I am the first and only person in my family to graduate from college. My people are plenty smart, don’t get me wrong. But they don’t value education. Worse, they distrust college-educated nitwits. I’m also one of two people in my family to move away from Humboldt County (my youngest son is the other). Parochial is a word that springs to the front of the mind when describing my family. Also, loving, quirky, witty, intelligent, creative and nuts.
I wanted to write about how we make own way in life, choose a path different from the one we were taught to follow, without rejecting the people who raised us. I wanted my main character to be from a tight, opinionated culture that outsiders did not understand and, in fact, mocked. So, I set Bigfoot Blues in my hometown of Eureka in northern California and I made her father a famous Bigfoot hunter.
That my grandpa had an encounter with Bigfoot when I was a child? An encounter that impressed the heck out of me? Well that was all grist for the mill. Flavor for the gravy.
I’m going to end this post with an opinion and then a question for you.
Whether we write the stories of our lives down or tell them at family gatherings, fictionalize them or do our best to report the truth, how we frame our lives defines us as people.
What story do you most want to tell?