Are you wondering if I’m ever going to get around to talking about writing?
I was writing a little during all those years. I still kept diaries, although they were in spiral notebooks (no locks).
I wrote scratchy beginnings for stories. I wrote soupy poems. Then, one day, I got a call from an old friend who told me there was lots of money to be made in writing.
I should have known this wasn’t true, but making money selling my art wasn’t a get-rich-quick scheme either.
I began to write a novel based on my time at the zoo. Just twelve years later it was done! By then we had left the boat and the Florida Keys. We had moved to the capitol of Florida, Tallahassee, which has more double letters than any other capitol city, I’ll bet.
That is where I am now, sitting in a chair in a house in a neighborhood on the south side of town. If you’ve read my books, you’ve visited my neighborhood.
I’ve changed the names of the streets, and added a few geographic details that don’t exist, like the cemetery where Cass and Jemmie visit Miss Liz, but you can walk to the USA store from my house, and the power line clearing where Ben and the guys built the Race-A-Rama is at the end of my street.
By the way, the race track was real, and so were the woods in Anna Casey. The trees were bull-dozed to make way for a sand mine, just like the one in the book.
My characters talk like, look like, and act like the kids in my neighborhood. That’s because the real kids are the models for my characters—writers have to start with something!
The houses here are small, and most have lots of kids living in them. Maybe their parents send them outside so they can have a little peace and quiet; all I know is that there are always kids outside riding bikes, throwing balls, drawing with chalk on the road, so I run into them a lot.
And there is another place where I spend time with the kids in my neighborhood…
My dad lived across the street from me. When he died in 2007 I really didn’t want to sell his house so I did something better with it!
My neighbors and I started The Front Porch Library for the neighborhood kids.
Click here to learn more about our library. We have a great time getting together for library hours and programs, and I get to spend more time with the kids who breathe life into my characters! Read more…