Thanks so much to all of you who have dropped by to celebrate the release of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. It’s been a blast so far! The following essay can be found on my author page at Hachette Book Group. It explains a little bit about the background of the novel. Enjoy and happy reading in 2009!
People are always asking me how I came up with the idea for The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, and I always tell them the whole thing belongs to Truly.
Truly is not “real” of course—except that she kind of is. Before this version of the novel, there was another incarnation, one where the story belonged to the Morgan men. Well, Truly was having none of that. Her voice barreled in over the narrative, broke it into smithereens, and told me to pick up the pieces and start over, her way. I would, it seems, be telling the story from her perspective, with her words, whether I liked it or not.
She has been a singular muse, to say the least—chatty, bossy, and stubborn as all get-out. But also forgiving, tender, and full of regret. In other words, totally human. People often ask if Truly is some version me, and of course, in a way she is. She is my answer to the question of why we die the way we do.
I didn’t necessarily set out to write a book about that subject, but over the course of writing this novel, several friends and family members passed away—some from old age, some from disease, some, I guess, just because their numbers were up. Then I got pregnant in the middle of it all and almost miscarried my son. As I lay in bed wondering if I would be able to have him, I found myself asking the questions that Truly confronts at the end of the novel: When one of the needs in life turns out to be death is it murder or a mercy?
Enter Truly—a kind of spirit-guide of mortality who brings these issues to the table, but who is also constantly reminding us that life is a feast. There’s more, of course, to writing a novel than just “tuning in” to a character’s voice, but not much. Writing, I think, is as much an act of listening as anything else. Luckily, I chose to shut up and open my ears to Truly, even when I didn’t always like all the answers she was giving me, even when we sometimes fought.
Finally, like Truly, I also spend a lot of time cooking, and I believe there are similarities between writing and the culinary arts. For instance, I don’t really think you can be a good cook if you don’t like to eat. You always need a secret ingredient. You should never give away your recipes, and most of all, in my opinion, whatever you’ve made always tastes best when it’s shared. Truly, I’m sure, would absolutely agree. I hope you enjoy The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.