Day Seven: My “Plumfield” and A LONG LISTING for SFW!

Welcome to Day Seven of my blog tour, sponsored by Madame Writer of Wrongs. So many thanks to her for sharing my book!

First up, I just discovered that Southern-Fried Woolf has been chosen for the 2022 Somerset CIBAS Long List for Literary and Contemporary Fiction! I’m so pleased and honored!

One of the pleasures of writing fiction is exploring characters very different from yourself. When I was younger, unlike Briscoe, I wanted a large family. In fact, when I was in school in West Virginia I rode the bus every day past a huge, abandoned house that I always wanted to make into another Plumfield, the school for boys that Jo March created beginning at the end of Little Women, and, more so, in Little Men. But in my case, I wanted to make a home for children without parents.

I didn’t think it was fair that any child should ever feel unwanted, so I decided that when I grew up I would buy the “big green house” I called it in my head and renovate it and fill it. (I was testing actual house names but never landed on one.)

At the time, I didn’t realize it was a house with a historical background. It belonged once upon a time to Cap Hatfield of the Hatfields and McCoys feud, I’ve since discovered. (You can read more about Cap.)

Here’s a “before” photo of it from the West Virginia & Regional History Center. The house was beginning to show signs of ill repair even when I knew it, but it still seemed like something that could be salvaged at that point.

The last time I saw it in person twenty-some years ago, it looked more like the photo below that I found on Pinterest. I’m not sure if the house still stands, and I’m afraid to ask anyone. Obviously, at this point it is beyond repair and probably should be razed, but I don’t want to think about that.

I spent many an hour in my head renovating and refurbishing that house, admiring its bones, outfitting it with strong walls and flowing curtains.

I would read books with the children I would populate it with, I decided. I would take them wading in the creek and I would cook a country breakfast for them every day. There would be bedtime stories and fireflies. We would take walks and go into the mountains for picnics, pick wildflowers. They would learn to love the hillsides of trilliums as much as I did. I would share my reading rock with them. I would give them a safe harbor and life would be beautiful.

My writing would be much like Jo’s, I thought, confined to weekends and nights. They would be truly mine, these children of my heart, because I believe that love comes from the heart and not the genes. (Even to this day I favor TV shows with large families.)

While I did not end up with the twelve children that I aspired to, and alas, I did not buy the house and renovate it because life carried me elsewhere, my hubby and I did adopt two children, so that’s pretty cool. It was actually our children who told us that they didn’t need more siblings, isn’t that funny? (I don’t think they wanted to share us.) To be honest, I’m guessing twelve might have been a bit too many, even for me.

Here’s a photo of the kiddos just after we moved to Nashville. It still delights me! I take immense pride in my children, and I consider them to be a large part of my legacy.

In Southern-Fried Woolf, Briscoe claims not to want children, but isn’t it more likely that she thinks Michael would be an absentee father, and that their life isn’t suitable for bringing up children? It’s easier for her to just say that she doesn’t want children, I believe. What do you think?

Why is she studying the Ramsays so carefully? It’s not just the parents she’s curious about. She’s never had siblings; she doesn’t have children. I think she’s very much weighing the very things that Lily weighs in To the Lighthouse.

Oh, Briscoe. You’ve got this.

Happy Sunday!


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