My third southern fiction novel will be released on March 8th. I find it fascinating that I would wind up writing southern fiction. I am the quintessential New Yorker. I go to art galleries, the theatre and concerts at the Beacon Theater on Broadway. I lunch at whatever trendy restaurants serve the best reviewed food and I shop in Soho, drink in Tribeca, slum in the West Village and walk my dogs in Riverside Park. And yet, I write southern fiction?
I believe we are all more than what meets the eye. We are more than the shape of our faces, the color of our eyes and the length of our legs. We are more than the space we take up. I believe that when we speak, we know more than our words reflect. We are limited by that which we see as being real and that which we assume is all there is. I believe it’s a pity that we are not attuned to the more spiritual side of our lives on this earth but alas, we are not.
What I’m getting to, as I plug my third southern fiction novel, is that I hold within me genetic memory. I lived within some southern ancestor who stared at a Georgia sunset or walked barefoot through the fields of Tennessee. Life is a mystery and far too often we are too busy and too obsessed with other things to explore all the passages that we cannot see.
Writing is, like most art forms, a journey within. It is like being channeled by a writer from another time who seeps into the imagination and forms the words and completes the plot and guides the craft, exactly when we need it. I do believe this, in much the same way I believe that our knowledge is about the size of the head of a pin when it comes to the great mysteries of the soul.
Perhaps all knowledge is there but we cannot know it. Perhaps there are glimpses but we cannot explore it the way we might explore the side streets of a European city. Perhaps not having access to the entirety of our soul’s knowledge is the first layer of innocence, a blindness we adopt at the moment of birth. I believe in lots of things that can’t be proven, like beings from another hemisphere, ghosts that haunt and won’t let go, a heaven into which I will find myself and all my southern ancestors will be able to fill me in on our history.
Where the Wildflowers Grow is a grounded novel, though I assume I appear quite shy of a full deck. The book takes place in the 60’s and ends in the 80’s. I know this time well. I can still remember when being gay was tantamount to slitting your neighbor’s throat. I can still recall the days when cheating on your wife was considered not so bad. Well, maybe things are still that way, I’m not sure. The subject matter appealed to me because in many ways I knew the people I wrote about but I was always at arm’s distance from them. I wanted to get closer. You, see, it’s never just about sex, it’s about the lies in the way.
Where the Wildflowers Grow is a book about chasing the truth so far, that you’ve forgotten it. And the book is southern. It takes place in Georgia. Women wore dresses and nylons when in public and unmarried women were viewed with suspicion, not to mention anxiety. Perhaps the plot has seeped into my writing because I knew these people better than I think. Perhaps this is a story of all the skeletons in my great, great grandfather’s closet. Who knows?
Vera Jane Cook’s third southern fiction novel, Where the Wildflowers Grow, will be released on March 8th. Her other two southern fiction novels, Dancing Backward in Paradise (Eric Hoffer Award winner and Indie Excellence award runner up) and The Story of Sassy Sweetwater (5 Star ForeWord Clarion Review) was also published with Musa. Musa has also published Vera Jane’s only fantasy/paranormal fiction to date, Annabel Horton and the Lost Witch of Salem, as well as her women’s fiction novel, Lies a River Deep.