Sometimes a place can inspire a story. It started here, then a few scandals reported in the local newspaper, then a short story published in The Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and now a novel.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Opposition Candidate

"Sunshine Highway" has been out a year now.  Publishing a book that actually means something to the local community has been an eye-opener to me.  Fiction can make a difference?  Who would've thought?  Sure, Jonathan Swift and Charles Dickens and Upton Sinclair made a difference, but astonishing to me, fiction can still be relevant.

I was apprehensive when I first published the book.  I drove under the speed limit.  I kept a low profile.  Then, I was approached by local activists who wanted to use my book to get a new sheriff elected.  Hold on, now!  Yikes!  But in a quiet way I agreed.  I wanted to keep it a "virtual" book, which seemed somehow safer to me.  And so, much like "The Help", "Sunshine Highway" became an underground hit in the community.  A message of change.  The central image of my book, the truck cemetery, became synonymous with the new sheriff's campaign.  In fact, someone stuck a campaign sign on the lot where the trucks are parked!

And now we have a new sheriff.  We have some new faces on the city council.  The 35-year reign of the good-ole-boys has ended.  There is hope in the community.  No huge expectations of quick change, perhaps, but a sense that one can breathe again.
In all fairness, I have not once felt intimidated.  That in itself shows that the community is changing, open to change.  Addressing injustices of the past can lead to healing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sixteen trucks arranged in a semicircle like Stonehenge. There is something purposeful about their dereliction. A serenity. Both timeless and a searing reminder of the cruel relentlessness of time. Dinosaurs of rust, extinct yet fascinating.