My latest novel, an Appalachian mystery, is set in West Virginia. It’s not something I ever saw coming. Twenty years ago, I was dead-set on getting out of the mountains’ grip for good. I wanted big skies and open spaces. I read Architectural Digest in college and pictured myself, CEO of a huge firm in Manhattan, wearing spike heels and a tailored suit.
Then we lived in Manhattan. New York City and I go together like…manure on a prom dress. Sorry, only analogy I could come up with. I didn’t fit. Not enough land, and you’d better not DARE walk barefoot.
So here I am, many years and several moves later, back in West Virginia. I drove up those winding roads and the mountains grinned and offered me the chunk of my heart they’d been hanging on to for me.(Click to Tweet!)
My brother and I were talking about why the supernatural has shimmied its way into every book I’ve ever written. We deduced it might have a lot to do with growing up in the mountains, where ghost stories weren’t just stories and the supernatural seemed tangible in every greened-up forest and every shadow-ridden valley.
I’m not going to high-gloss life in the mountains in my books. That’s because the mountains don’t high-gloss things either. They hem us all in tight, together. (Click to Tweet!) “Look at the grief,” they tell us. You can’t hide in anonymity, like in the big city. If one person goes through a tragedy, many do. And we all have to work through it and come out the other side, to open our arms to the skies on top of the mountain and thank the good Lord above for our lives and health and “having food and raiment, let us therewith be content.”
I wouldn’t be who I am today without the mountains’ bittersweet blood running through my veins. It’s my prayer that I bring this to life in my books.
****How about you? Where do you feel most grounded?****