Hush Puppy started years ago as a correspondence course assignment consisting of just three chapters and an outline. I like to think of that book as an ode to my childhood, growing up in the South with the ever present racial and social divides between people. You’d think these things would be dead and buried in the past, but you still see them every day on the news. I originally set Hush Puppy in the 1980’s to be more like the world I knew, but an agent asked me “Does it have to be in the past?” The answer was no, because racism and discrimination are still happening today.
More and more, I find myself mining fiction ideas from what I see going on in the world around me. In my upcoming novel, Vessel, I wondered about modern e-books. What if all our written knowledge became digital in the future and we suddenly lost it all? What would life be like without books?? Kind of a terrifying thought.
A lot of my ideas come from themes that strike me as especially poignant in my own life. Themes in Hush Puppy include accepting yourself for who you are, as well as accepting others, and resisting the temptation to try to change others.
My current work in progress (title is still kind of a secret) has themes of doing the best we can with the hand we’ve been dealt and not letting that hand get the better of us. It’s also about following your bliss, no matter how hard that might be. A lot of kids out there (and adults) are not “living the dream” as defined by popular media. I write because I want those kids to know they aren’t alone, that lots of us aren’t living in a pop culture wonderland either. Life can be hard. It can also be very beautiful. Those beautiful moments are what make the hard times worth it and they are the inspiration for my stories. Enjoy~