Finding Heart in a Voice by Bette Lee Crosby
Every life has a story, but what the story is depends upon who’s telling it.
The most important decision any author makes happens before the first word is written. It is the decision of who the protagonist is, and whether or not you will write from his or her point-of-view. Sounds like an easy decision, right? Wrong.
Until now, I have written stories about women with a nature not terribly different than my own. We tend to be independent, tough when the situation calls for it, and quick to jump in with help for the underdog. All fine and good, it’s easy enough to crawl inside the head of a woman who thinks as you do. Okay, it’s a different time and place, but emotions and attitudes are transportable. They can move from one generation to the next with very little ruffling of feathers.
Spare Change. Olivia Westerly is an opinionated protagonist who is absolutely certain she does not want children. But when Ethan Allen, the eleven-year-old underdog happens along she jumps in with both feet, not only taking the boy in, but going toe to toe with his daddy’s killer.
Writing Spare Change was easy enough; Olivia wasn’t all that different from me. The story starts in the early 1900s and stretches into the 1950s, but it’s set here in America and it’s a world not that foreign to the one we now know. True there were no cell phones or Internet, but Olivia was financially secure and she had neighbors willing to watch out for her. When someone insulted Olivia, she stuck her snooty little nose in the air and walked off. Okay, I know how that feels, so I can look inside my own experiences to find the right emotions for Olivia.
But, an author’s lifeblood comes from creating, and after I had recreated myself in a number of stories, it was time to move on.
With Passing through Perfect, I had the story in my head for several months before I was able to think like the character Benjamin Church. I did extensive research and stretched my memory to recall the ways and language of elderly aunts and uncles who were Southern born and bred. I read countless books of the era including President Jimmy Carter’s boyhood memoir, “An Hour before Daylight.”
But finding the voice of a character entails so much more than mere research. If I wanted to write this story, I had to change my thinking from that of a reasonably affluent middle-age white woman into that of a young black man living in Alabama during the 1940s. I had to step away from the computer and close myself off from my world. I could no longer think like Olivia; I needed to know what it felt like to be poor. To have nothing and expect nothing. To be humble when you had every right to be proud. And I had to envision myself stripped of most everything I love, before I could come to understand Benjamin’s plight and ultimately his reactions.
It didn’t happen in a week, or a month; it took time. But once I made the transformation I was able to think like Benjamin Church. Not only did I come to think like him, I fell in love with him and with his beautiful wife Delia. I cared about those people just as I would care about what happens to those in my own family.
When I wrote the final chapter of the book, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew in Benjamin Church I had created a character filled with hope and passion. As you get to know the characters of Passing through Perfect, I hope you too will feel the passion on every page.
PASSING THROUGH PERFECT, THE WYATTSVILLE SERIES BOOK 3
It’s 1946. The war is over. Millions of American soldiers are coming home and Benjamin Church is one of them. After four years of being away he thought things in Alabama would have changed, but they haven’t. Grinder’s Corner is as it’s always been—a hardscrabble burp in the road. It’s not much, but it’s home.
When Benjamin attends a harvest festival in Twin Pines, he catches sight of Delia. Before their first dance ends, he knows for certain she’s the one. They fall madly in love; happily, impatiently, imprudently, in love. It doesn’t matter that her daddy is staunchly opposed to the thought of his daughter marrying a cotton farmer, never mind a poor one.
It’s true Benjamin has little to offer; he’s a sharecropper who will spend his whole life sweating and slaving to do little more than put food on the table. But that’s how things are in Alabama. Benjamin is better off than most; he has a wife, a boy he adores, and a house that doesn’t leak rain. Yes, Benjamin considers himself a lucky man until the fateful night that changes everything.
About Bette Lee CrosbyAward-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.
“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”
Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win numerous other awards, including The Reviewer’s Choice Award, FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and The Royal Palm Literary Award.
Her published novels to date are: Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), The Twelfth Child (2012), What Matters Most (2013), Jubilee’s Journey (2013), Previously Loved Treasures (2014) and Wishing for Wonderful (2014). She also authored “Life in the Land of IS” a memoir of Lani Deauville, a woman the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world’s longest living quadriplegic.
Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back
Connect with Bette Lee Crosby on her Blog, Goodreads, Twitter or Facebook. She is also on Amazon and iTunes.
Bette Lee Crosby is giving away copies of her books, open worldwide! You may enter one or both.