Dear Memphis and Harriet; Patsy and Ruth; Elizabeth, Myra and Gwen…
The women who star in my novels carry bits of my heart. Each one of you contains a part of me that could be worse or better if dramatized and flavored with other characteristics. and set in some other life. Patsy, I think I gave you a little bit of my badassery, except you are braver than I. (Who burns a Confederate flag at a swamp?) And Memphis, you’re quirky and existential, and maybe I have a hint of that, but I’m no magic weaver on a farm. Gwen, you’re vicious when you’re hurt. I can be, too, except I’m not brave enough to be so hilariously horrid. Ruth, you are the best friend I can imagine, a mentor and mother figure, and you’re quirky and crazy and dammit, you know people. Myra, you know loss, and I put you through more of it, just to see how much you could take. And Elizabeth, well, you search for identity like we all do, except few of us accidentally-on purpose- become an imposter.
Dear characters, you saved my life. After the 2016 election, I was gutted. Anorexia hit harder than ever, and I knew- god I have always known- that I needed something else if I had any hope of recovery. When I began my first terrible, melodramatic novel about the political disaster my country was (and is) experiencing, I was damned close to death. I couldn’t sit still. My labs showed kidney damage. I was severely underweight. When I finished the novel, I came up with the idea to go back to college. I discovered the deepest friendships in my own imagination.
Before I practiced craft and developed the authorly control to carry a story to novel length, I created characters. These characters changed my life.
I think about this as THE WEAVER is going to debut, and what it will be like when it’s out in the wild. And hopefully CALL ME ELIZABETH LARK will find a home. I am still madly, truly and deeply in love with the shelved novel, THAT NIGHT ON THE BAYOU. It needs something. I just need to percolate over what. A novel in short stories? Maybe. I’ve always wanted to do that!
I write creepy stories with a murder or a twist here or there, and I love atmosphere. But my novels come back to one theme, every time– women coming together to help each other.
So, this one’s for the characters in my books, especially the women.