Have you traced your ancestors? ~ And found the information a bit askew from what you thought?
My father was a genealogy buff but he passed away before the internet made research easier. With his work as my starting point, I went online and learned that some of his information was wrong. (Sorry, Dad, but we’re not descended from Plantagenet royalty.) Still, it’s fascinating to see all the different nationalities in our background. My own grandchildren will be almost like a little United Nations.
What was your inspiration to write Gone South?
When I was a teenager, my father told me he’d noticed that family histories often include inaccuracies or outright lies designed to make a family look respectable—and at the time, he didn’t know some of his information was incorrect! A couple of years ago, that morphed into the story of Tish McComb, a northerner who moves to her ancestors’ town in Alabama, thinking they were beloved pillars of the community.
How much research did Gone South take?
A lot! I didn’t realize how little I knew about muscle cars, antiques, learning disabilities, and the Reconstruction era until I was too far into the story to back out. Fortunately, research fuels my creativity and inspires me to dig deeper into the story.
What are the some of the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Gone South?
For starters, I learned that General Motors presented Sweden’s Prince Bertil with a ’56 Corvette like the one in the story, so I decided to make mine the same color as his. I also learned that a Maltese dog should wear a harness, not a collar, because the trachea of a Maltese is so delicate that a collar could crush it. Who knew!
Did you already have an antique car background?
Well, sort of, but I think we’ll feel a little younger if we call the cars “vintage.” I learned to drive a stick-shift in my best friend’s father’s Chevelle Super Sport. My first car was a ’66 Dodge Dart that looked like a grandma’s car, but the previous owner had put in a big engine so I had a hard time keeping that thing under the speed limit. In my hometown, Friday nights were like American Graffiti, with everybody cruising Spring Street from the Polar Freeze to Foster’s Freeze and back again.
What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?
A Stillness of Chimes will come out in February 2014. It’s about a young woman who comes home to the North Georgia mountains to settle her mother’s estate and learns that new questions surround her father’s long-ago disappearance. And of course I’m working on a new story too.
What message would you like your readers to take from reading Gone South?
I would like my readers to look at the parable of the prodigal son with fresh eyes. His journey home didn’t start with repentance. It started with his hunger and his need, but his father ran to meet him before the son had a chance to ask for forgiveness. God is like that. He offers his kindness even before we repent.
What organizations are you involved with?
I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and my husband and I recently joined a local motorcycle club that takes interesting rides around Georgia.