True Confessions of a Southern? Novelist
I have a confession to make. I think I write Romance stories. Okay, okay. Maybe they aren’t Romance as in the genre that has a beautiful pattern that must be fulfilled to qualify as a Romance novel but to me they are full of the essence of all good things romantic. People misaligned and finding themselves and one another, even over the course of death and great mystery, (The Gin Girl) Old girlfriends from down south and back home showing up on the doorstep of promising, dashing political figures (The Messenger of Magnolia Street). Skirt chasing men finding out that there is strong magic and medicine in finding the right woman and that it’s never too late for true love, Saints In Limbo. Romance I tell you! Yes, the characters are a wild and wooly bunch, usually raised on biscuits and fried chicken by strong women with wide hips who are not afraid to tell the truth. Yes, they usually bump into some mysterious happenings that must be resolved come, well - you know – and let’s just say a lot of high water and strange circumstance does arrive at their door. But in the midst of all this wildness you can believe a connection is being made between two people that will navigate the waters of their own special connection.
People often ask me what have been some of the greatest influences of my writing life. Many times they are wondering if it was great authors like Harper Lee, Flannery O’Conner, or William Faulkner who have influenced me. What I have to tell them truthfully is that it was Grandmama (the worrier with the sixth sense), Mema (the snake killer and cake baker), Aunt Leaner (the little one that could move a train) Katie Ruth (the second mama and Private eye), Uncle John (the dancing, singing, life-loving wild man), Uncle Eddie Louis (the great liar) and so on and so forth. It was the people who surrounded me in the late night on those porches telling stories, lies, and alibis that fed me more fodder for novel writing than I would ever need. And being born to be a writer I took it all in like nobody’s business. When they talked about love, loss, and broken hearted women who were out to get even, I pretended not to even be there I sat so small so they wouldn’t send me somewhere else. When they talked about wars and true love that lasts forever, I took note. When my closet romantic Mema received her new issue of True Confession magazine I tried to sneak them and read them while she cooked in that hot kitchen. When she told us kids to come in and be quiet because it was time for her ‘stories’ as she called her soap operas, we dutifully lined up on the little couch for a dose of the Days of Our Lives. Trust me, it was the romance that kept her coming back for more.
In my novels I think it’s the romance found and lost and rediscovered between many of the characters that keep people coming back for more. It’s the reason I receive notes about why they’ve read the novels more than once or begged me to write a sequel but by the time I get the note I’m already trapped, lost between the lines of another woman’s story who is navigating the tricky lines of love. Never in a novel have all these elements come together more than in The Miracle of Mercy Land. With elements of suspense, a touch of the supernatural, and a breath of mystery and a whole lot of room for shall we say, the powerful possibilities of romance.
I think if my Mema, the great romantic that she was, could be here to turn the pages she would agree with me. The Miracle of Mercy Land contains all the best elements of her True Confessions magazines and her daily ‘stories’. I think it will keep readers turning pages to discover if in the middle of the greatest mystery of her life Mercy Land will dare to allow love to find a way.