The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 3

I grew up on a chicken farm in North East, Maryland (yeah, that’s really the name of the town). I was the only child of Finnish immigrants. We were rich in love with wonderful Scandinavian neighbors, and a host of cultural activities, like monthly dances and choral groups. I am still fluent in Finnish.

We lived on a dirt road, five miles from town. We used an outhouse until I was 12 years old when my father was able to add on to our tiny house. We had a cow, fruit trees, a huge vegetable garden and were almost totally self-sufficient.

I did not grow up rich and privileged. We worked the farm ourselves and every day I came home from school and packed eggs for several hours. I cut the grass and cleaned the house for my mother every Saturday. I churned butter. My life was like “Little House on the Prairie” and it was perfect.  I learned responsibility and the joy of working hard with my parents in a joint effort to survive and succeed.

I wanted to write a book about homeless people and working people who live on the edge.  A book where Laura, the heroine of “Losing It” ultimately discovers that we are all pretty much the same despite outward appearances.

My journey to research “Loving It” began in Princeton, New Jersey, (Laura’s home), and moved to Hartford, Connecticut,  where Laura’s son is in boarding school. She is fleeing her husband, who is determined to “make her disappear” to protect his reputation and his future. Laura knows something devastating about him and she has threatened to tell the world.

Laura soon realizes that her husband is able to follow her anywhere through her cell phone and credit cards. She narrowly escapes his henchmen on terror-filled night.  Now she is homeless with no friends and no resources.  It’s May and the weather is warm, but without food or shelter, Laura is desperate.  Dirty and disheveled, she finds other homeless people and befriends them.  They teach her how to survive.     

Now she is washing herself in public restrooms, finding food in trashcans, dodging spiders in old abandoned buses and cars, hiding under overpasses when it rains.

Her long blonde hair extensions fall out, her nail tips fall off. She gets a pair of scissors and cuts her hair. Now she is a short-haired brunette and hardly recognizable, which is what she wants.

A member of our family, Glenn Khoury, owns some trailer parks in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area. He arranged several interviews with residents. I spent a day there and heard absolutely amazing stories. Some were tragic, some were heartwarming. I couldn’t make this stuff up and I didn’t try. Real people with real stories are the best and only way to go.

 

 

When I write a novel, I love the research. What comes out is “fact-based fiction”. Stay tuned for the next installment of “The Adventure of Writing a Book”.

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