write under their noses
This website is an attempt to explain this writing game I have committed myself rather foolishly to. The photos you see are characters from my as-yet-unpublished novels, NO HAPPIER STATE and ALICE & HER GRAND BELL.
NO HAPPIER STATE is set during the creation of Mount Rushmore, hence the postcard shot above.* (Excerpts have been published in About Place Journal, The Fieldstone Review and D-Day 68th Anniversary Anthology.)
I chose Rita Hayworth to depict my main character, Pêche Appleton, because Rita was married to Orson Welles, whose 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast sent Pêche scrambling to the top of Abe Lincoln's head to greet the aliens. The people of Keystone, South Dakota blamed her for the hysteria that followed when her husband, Ernie, joked that she'd been abducted by Martians. For Ernie, I used the photo of a young Ronald Reagan, which can be explained in the blurb about Bad Glove Hand, who is depicted by a photo of Charles "Chief" Bender, Chippewa Indian and member of baseball's Hall of Fame. Lastly, Steinke is represented here with a photo of Lou Gehrig, partly because that's how I envision him and partly because Lou and his disease figure in the first book.
ALICE & HER GRAND BELL tells concurrent stories of two families—unwittingly related—and two eras. (Excerpts are out in mgv2_71: Golf, the "Americana" issue of Skive Magazine and mgv2_69: Fifty Stars & a Maple Leaf.) While sheer resolve keeps one family together, the other keeps only secrets.
You see, at the brink of the first Gulf War, eighteen-year-old Brock dreads his sister's deployment in the Gulf while he seeks answers for twin brothers lost to Vietnam. Instead, he discovers his father's secret about dodging World War II and a legendary family Civil War hero is exposed as no more than a deserter. The parallel story deals with Grace—born of the rape of her mother by that same Yankee deserter—and her family's journey through the South's Reconstruction. Grace grows from teenage baseball writer to venerable whistle-blower—her newspaper career exposing frauds from the Indiana KKK to the Cincinnati Reds to those on either side of the Scopes/Monkey Trial. Along the way she encounters real-life characters ranging from child psychic Edgar Cayce to Prescott Bush, father and grandfather to future presidents.
While Brock wonders about his place in the family, Grace demands her place in the world. The two stories intertwine throughout—taking some liberties with historical events and people—until a well-traveled scrapbook brings them together in a hospital room at the brink of Gulf War II.
*Susan Tinkham, my talented sister, gets credit for adroitly slipping my mug in where Teddy's ought to be. All photos are used without permission and will likely disappear quickly (lest I find myself in legal trouble).