We are seemingly born with the word on our lips.
“Why” is thought itself: the mind exploring, building connections, learning, growing.
- Why is the grass green?
- Why is the sky blue?
- Why do I have to go to bed?
“Why” has civilized us, caused us to invent great things, spurred us to find cures, and generally, but not always, improved the world.
My novel was put into motion by years of unanswered questions that began to be asked more than a decade ago.
Washed Up is my response to as yet unsolved real crimes. Three times in eight years Goodhue County authorities have been called to the Mississippi River near Red Wing to remove the body of a newborn baby. Unbelievably, two of the babies in the Goodhue case are related.
While the real stories are troubling to me as a mother — who aren’t they troubling to — they are equally perplexing to my writer’s brain, which always intent on solving the mystery of why people behave the way they do.
Some people cope with life’s irrational, tragic events through their faith, by volunteering, by working out, or in less healthy coping manners: through self-abuse and, sometimes, by committing other crimes.
Writing is my way of coping with the unspeakable.
In Washed Up, a young girl discovers a drowned newborn washed ashore on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Many times, I’ve asked myself whether I could spend a lot of time thinking about such a horrific crime. I put a young girl in a role that grown adults would have great difficulty facing. I’ve wondered whether people have the stomach to read about it. I already know of people who say “not for me,” when they hear what the story is about.
Well I couldn’t NOT write it. But I needed to give readers a reason to read it.
So I invented a pair of flawed (i.e., ‘human’) heroes and sent them on a journey to resolve that mystery, hoping that along the way they would find ways of healing themselves.
In many ways, Arvo and Christine are my stand-ins, and they can be yours too, for a few afternoons or evenings sometime later this year. I like them. I think you will too, and I think you’ll be glad you picked up my book and read about them.
Good literature always takes the reader along on the characters’ transformative journeys – we cheer them along as they face challenges (the villain’s evil plot) and an even larger nemesis: their own human failings. In the intimate, personal act of reading, we identify with the hero in the book. The hero has problems just like us, yet he or she is our better self, a person we can strive to be. We have that hope in the fictional hero (really in ourselves), that despite everything, eventually they (and we) will succeed.
The novel is their quest to answer the question the book poses. That life itself poses.
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