My roots are deep, simple and southern.
They started where my mama Lucy was born on a tobacco farm in the flatlands of eastern North Carolina. She was one of fifteen siblings raised without electricity or indoor plumbing. My daddy, a Marine from Cherry Point, saw my mama a handful of times. Then he married her on her eighteenth birthday in 1944. They settled near her family where my sister and I were born in a farming town, where neighborhoods were divided by train tracks and held together by church and traditions. Just about everybody we knew was kin.
When I was ten, we left Carolina and moved to Virginia when my grandpop died. We moved in with Nana, and on the empty lot next door my parents built us a four-room home, sawing, hammering and painting. They were self-sufficient and hardworking people with humble dreams.
In my childhood days, I fell in love with Nancy Drew mystery books. Every spare moment was spent between the covers of those blue books solving crimes and thinking that could be me. If my name was Nancy. If I had a roadster. If I was five years older. I have nineteen of those early Nancy Drew books on my bookshelf. They hooked me on the pull of imagination.
But my world wasn’t Nancy Drew’s world. I took piano lessons that led to a scholarship that took me to Dunbarton College in Washington DC in the second half of the turbulent sixties. Our Nation’s Capital was in chaos over Vietnam, racial strife and women’s equality. Marches and sit-ins were the norm in that time of unrest. A year after college, I married, had a son, taught music, and wrote articles for a magazine. Two decades later, I divorced then took the job of executive assistant to the Headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School that lasted my next twenty-four years.
In those years, I wrote memoirs and fiction whose rules weren’t always clear. I attended writing conferences and workshops, haunted bookstores and studied my favorite authors. I cut my writing teeth on a novel that didn’t sell and a string of short stories that did. Eventually, I found.my writing voice. No surprise, it’s southern and musical and best when read aloud. It is always about people who are self-sufficient and hard working with humble dreams.