Writing the cookbook got me to thinking about the past, my family's roots and what framed our lives. Several years ago I started writing short essays for my mom because she was getting old and I thought I could draw her out by what I wrote. I hoped she would remember things from her youth that she wouldn't ordinarily think to tell me. The first essay I wrote, about when our house was robbed, became part of my novel Driven By Conscience. It's smack in the middle of the novel and so I guess you could say the book was written from the inside out.
My stories became a novel and it took three years to build. While I wrote the stories both of my sisters and my mom died within a short period. My sisters died before Mom did, and I tried to write her through it, but it didn't work. I ended up writing for myself. I tried to recreate the spirits of people, places and feelings from where I grew up in the pages of my book. The book is a work of fiction, and except for references to historical figures, the characters are not actual people.
The funny thing about the book was that while I thought I had the themes worked out beforehand, the over-arching emergent theme was the matter of conscience. When it was all done I realized that even though I had not consciously planned it, the characters struggle with decisions, some bigger than others. The book is about growing in the time and place where you're born; that while you can't change where and when you are born you can control your actions.
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