I’m absolutely thrilled the She Reads staff chose Calling Me Home as the February book club selection. I’ve been following the She Reads blog for more than a year, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my novel with you and interact with this wonderful and exceptional group of readers. Thank you!
I began writing Calling Me Home a few years after I learned something about my deceased grandmother. While I was growing up, she never seemed truly happy. She would teach me to crochet blankets or sew dresses for my dolls one moment, and be distant and impatient the next. This was in contrast with her sisters—my great aunts—who seemed full of endless patience and always had open arms for me. I wondered why Grandma was the way she was.
Five or six years ago, my father revealed to me that Grandma had fallen in love with an African-American man when she was a teenager. They wanted to marry. Her family wasn’t pleased—not surprising for the time or for Northern Kentucky, where intermarriage was still illegal and where many small towns had signs at the city limits warning blacks to be gone by dark. We don’t know any details beyond the obvious fact that things didn’t end as Grandma hoped. After learning this, I spent hours—months, really—considering what might have happened, and what might have been. My father’s gift of information gave me a glimmer of understanding that eventually grew into grace as I considered how my grandmother likely lost her one true love, then lived a life that must have been so different from the one of which she dreamed.
The resulting novel must also be extremely different from my grandma’s real story, considering the little I know about her early life. Still, I felt as though she sat near my shoulder while I wrote, whispering, not of concrete particulars about plot and setting, but about her emotions and how it felt to be in love in a situation that seemed simultaneously hopeless and filled with possibility.
I hope you’ll read Calling Me Home. If you do, I hope you’ll be, from one moment to the next, both impatient with and full of grace for my characters, Isabelle and Robert, Dorrie and Stevie Junior, and all the rest, as they make their various journeys towards home.