HOW DO YOU START A BOOK IF YOU’VE NEVER WRITTEN ONE BEFORE? (Originally posted 1/7/14, edited for clarity)
My dad will be ninety-three in about a month, and I certainly could not have even begun this book without him. It would have been impossible to write about our experience in Summersville without being able to write about my parents’ lives before they got there. They both grew up in southern West Virginia in the 1920s and ’30s, got married in the ’40s, and then lived in Summersville from the late ’40s to the mid ’70s.
My mom died in 2007, and since I did not start this book until 2013, I have not had the benefit of interviewing her as I have been able to do with Dad and my sister Caroline. Very sadly, I also have not been able to interview my brother Billy because he died at the very young age of fifty-seven in 2009. Of course, I have my memories of them and memories of things they told me, but having Dad and Caroline around to fill in the many blanks in my own memory has been invaluable. Fortunately we all get along well, and no one has yet threatened to shoot me if I ask another question or send another email. In fact, I think they are actually enjoying it.
Without giving away the plot of the book, I will say we lived a very interesting life in a small town in West Virginia. As often happens with cases like this, when I later in life recounted some of these stories to others, I would hear the much cliched refrain, “You should write a book!” So with my husband’s encouragement, I started recording and ordering all the events that, in my mind, were book-worthy. And thus, the process was begun.