Riders and Readers, welcome our friend Trish Jensen to the ‘vert!
You know, it sucks when you finally realize that life just isn’t fair. I’m fairly certain we all learned it at an early age, when Santa didn’t bring every single thing on our five page list. But at times it’s reinforced and heartbreaking.
Take me, for example. I have always, and I mean always been drawn to all things Southern. And even though my first four years of life were spent in Puerto Rico – definitely south – that’s not the Southern I’m talking about.
Every two-three years my father would call a “family meeting.” That was code word for “we’re moving again.” No, not military. He was a fixer. He worked for a huge corporation which owned a bazillion companies, and whenever one company was in trouble, he/we were sent to fix what was wrong and then move on to the next company.
So every time we were summoned to a family meeting I’d cross my fingers and just pray he’d say something like Charleston, Memphis, Chapel Hill, Savannah…
And every time he’d actually come up with Minneapolis, Cleveland, and several different Pennsylvania towns.
Don’t get me wrong. I found something wonderful about each of those places, but they weren’t below the Mason-Dixon. The closest I came was the seven years I lived in Northern Virginia. Yes, below the Mason-Dixon, but definitely not antebellum South. I wanted trees dripping with Spanish Moss, wrap-around porches, mint juleps and people who said y’all.
This is my long-winded way of getting to my point, which is that when I begin a new book almost inevitably the setting is the SOUTH. Two exceptions were one that was set in NYC and one set in LA. Otherwise, Atlanta, Charleston, DC (because I knew it so well) and my latest from Bell Bridge Books, set in Daredevil, South Carolina (fictional town).
Send Me No Flowers was one of those “magic” books that just seemed to write itself. I did absolutely no research on the South, did not listen to any Southern lingo tapes, nothing. I just went with what was in my head. When I was finished I sent it to a writing buddy who lives in a small Southern town outside of Macon for his input. He’s not a romance reader or writer, but he’s a bud, so he dutifully read it. And his feedback was amazing. He told me there was no way he believed I’ve never lived in the South. Just not possible. The only thing he believed I’d gotten wrong was that I had the heroine call the hero a nincompoop. Not only had he never heard of the word, he guaranteed me that no self-respecting Southerner would ever use such a word. I’ve since taken a poll, and he was wrong on that score. Many Southerners had heard of it, and some had used it. J But I took it out, anyway, because if he didn’t believe it, then maybe others wouldn’t have as well.
The major point being that I had no idea where it all came from. Made it a joke that most of the businesses had two different purposes. Like Harley’s Barber and Tackle Shop. Another was a jeweler and dog groomer. And so on. I have no idea where it came from, it just felt right. Came to find out from my buddy that this is exactly how his town is. And then there was the Southern speak. Once again, no experience, no research. I just wrote the dialogue the way I heard it in my head. And again my Southern buddy was flummoxed. How did I know?
The answer is, I have no idea. It just…was.
So I think good old Shirley might be on to something. Maybe in some other life I was sitting in an antebellum mansion, gazing out at all of my trees dripping with Spanish Moss, while sipping a mint julep and saying, “Hey, all y’all” as folks passed by.
Am I alone? Has anyone else just known something without knowing why or how you know it?
Trish Jensen will be offering either an e-book or print edition of Send Me No Flowers to one winner the moment they become available.
Send Me No Flowers: Shy and secretive Jennifer Creighton has opened a flower shop in the small town of Daredevil, South Carolina. Sheriff Rob Townsend wants to know why. And most definitely wants to unearth her secrets.