Being married to an artist makes life . . . what shall I say? . . . Colorful. Splashes of paint are frequently found in places other than his canvas – places like the floor, door frames where the artist walked through with orange paint on his brush, and even the refrigerator door handle. I’m used to it, and I think I’d rather miss those streaks of color if they weren’t there. When there’s paint in those places, it also means that I have witnessed the magic on his palette and the appearance of a human face on the canvas. Bluish cheeks eventually become warm, supple flesh tones, and just a dab of alizarin red with a touch of cobalt blue and a swish of titanium white become that late afternoon lavender sky, surpassed only by God’s paintbrush. It’s really amazing– one color, unique to itself, but creating an entirely new color when combined with another.
The results never last as long as an oil portrait, but the kitchen can be like a canvas with a creative cook – a few ingredients when combined making something quite delicious and decadent. Sure, a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down and my tea quite pleasing, but two and three-fourths cups of sugar take on new meaning when mixed with a half a pound of butter, five eggs, White Lily flour, whole milk and two teaspoons of fine grade vanilla. Bake it for an hour and fifteen minutes and you have my mama’s pound cake.
Stories have colors and ingredients too. When I begin a book, I have an unbelievable number of decisions to make about colors and ingredients. What is the story line? What am I really trying to do with this story? What about the plot and any subplots? Where should this story be set–the Deep South or Upstate NY (that’s a no-brainer for me since I’ve only visited Upstate NY one beautiful autumn)? What season of the year? Oh, and don’t even get me started on the characters. I get to choose male or female, ages, heights, favorite colors, favorite foods, annoying idiosyncrasies, and how they speak. Once those decisions are made, then I begin choosing words for every sentence, fashioning scenes, and developing story line. Believe me, one ill-chosen word or even a typo has the possibility of creating something I never intended. And when I type THE END if I have used the ingredients and colors wisely, then I have created a work that satisfies, entertains, moves, and sometimes even disturbs the reader.
With the ROCKWATER SUITE, I have the luxury of multiple books to tell the stories of the colorful characters I have created. RETURN OF THE SONG, to be released next week, is the first in this series and reveals many of the characters whose stories will be revealed later books while this one tells the story of Caroline Carlyle. It is set in the South, my heart’s home until I reach heaven. And the story is ageless—the story of love and loss and relationships and rebuilding lives. So many colors and ingredients in the portrait and recipe of life.