Writing from Personal Experience

Me & my Uncle Charlie

I had no idea what I signed up for when I decided to write these stories in which some of the characters and parts of the story come from my childhood memories.

To protect the guilty, or to maintain some mystery, I won’t tell you which of the events are true. Instead, I’d like to share the inspiration for three of my characters. Most people have experienced the loss of a beloved grandparent or family member. We remember bits and pieces of events and fill in the gaps with family lore, rumor, or wishful thinking. As time passes, reality fades into something closer to myth. The setting and characters in “The Spirit Tree” and “Twelve Spirits of Christmas” were born from a woman’s recollections of a little girl’s memories.

Gram Mae is based on my Great-Grandmother Mae. She was old for as long as I can remember, and the most loving person I’ve ever met. She lived in a little pink house on my great-aunt and uncle’s property, slept with a pistol under her pillow, and was four-foot nothing of a spit-fire Southern Lady. Sadly, she passed away my freshmen year of high school.

I believe that our loved ones are never far from us. I am reminded of Mae in the most unexpected places, Yankee Candle, for instance. I had smelled a dozen scented candles, mostly earthy or food scents. I’m not overly fond of floral scents, but was drawn to a gaudy pink candle labeled rose-something-or-another. Instantly, I was five years-old sitting in Mae’s bathtub. The small rose shaped soap had melted, leaving the water murky.

Tastes also bring her back to me. Watermelon with a sprinkle of salt, iced tea sweetened with the old-fashioned sugar-free syrup after her “sugar diabetes” diagnosis, cookies with a hint of cherry—all conjure memories of her weathered hands and mischievous eyes.

Dottie and Charlie are based on my great-aunt and uncle. Charlie, a full-blooded Cherokee, was quick to smile and had a baritone laugh that could rattle the walls. Dottie whose real name is Bette, is as wise as she is strong. She inspires me with her ability to exhibit grace under pressure. Her losses have been tremendous, and still she loves with her whole heart. (I love you, Aunt Bette!)

As an adult, I don’t have a lot of spare time to sit and remember my childhood and the people who made it magical. Writing this series allowed me to dig into the experiences and role models that shaped me. My sincere wish is that readers will enjoy my characters, and perhaps see some of their own childhood and family in the novels.

Thank you. I hope you enjoyed learning a little about my family.

Stalk Kathryn Here

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