Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

While looking back at the novels in these boxed sets, I wondered if I ever write anything that isn’t at least a little bit autographical.

Passion’s Child has to do with sailing and so does The Goodbye Child. Growing up in Corpus Christi, I began to sail in the womb – literally. My parents were poor when my mother was pregnant with me. They lived in a tiny one bedroom clapboard house on the west side of town. They didn’t even have a car, but my father who was always big into hobbies had always dreamed of owning a sailboat. He’d grown up landlocked in Bowie, Texas before Texans dammed every river and made lakes all over the state.

As a child he’d built a model sailboat that he sailed in any sort of pond he could find. So – the first thing he bought when he came to Corpus Christi, was a sailboat. He and Mother would get on the bus with their bags of sails even when Mother was huge with me. The name of the boat was Phantom. Sadly, it sank in a hurricane that occurred after I was born.

Destiny’s Child is set on a ranch near Corpus Christi. One of my favorite places to write is a prayer retreat called Lebh Shomea, which is locate on the former headquarters of the vast Kenedy Ranch which Captain King, who founded the King Ranch, once owned a part of. Through the years, I’ve spent many weeks there and am very familiar with the cowboy diet, lifestyle, wildlife, history, romance, and vegetation of that area. It is pure TEXAS and an extremely personal setting to me.

Scandal’s Child is set in Louisiana. For the first eight years of my marriage, I lived in Orange, Texas, which is prettily located on the Sabine River right across from Louisiana. Back then, I merely dreamed of becoming a writer.

My husband and I had a sailboat (naturally – it’s in the genes) and a canoe and an airboat. We spent hours in the bayous exploring the middle of nowhere on an canoe or airboat. It is lucky we didn’t get eaten by a gator. Several slapped their tails at us as if to say SCRAM! Which we quickly did, naturally.

Beside the gators, the trouble with airboats is you can fly quickly over logs, grass, and mud and get way back into wild country which is a sort of no-man’s land. I used to think, if this motor quits, what will we do? There was no sign of human life on those desolate waterways other than a few ramshackle shacks on stilts and a few old tires lying on the banks.

Well after several years of adventures, we ended up donating the airboat to the Sea Scouts, and the motor went out when they were on one of their expeditions. The leader and his scouts had to walk back, pulling the boat for TWO DAYS, through mud and water. When you step into that mud, you sink a foot. It sucks you down. Not fun.

Wilderness Child is the least autobiographical of the six books. It is set in Australia and I’ve never been there. Perhaps I set it there because the King Ranch used to own a ranch in Australia. Or maybe because I’ve always dreamed of making that journey.

Writers don’t just write what they know. They write about their fantasies and dreams too. Hey… I’m still sailing.

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