I'm sitting here listening to Levon Helm sing The Mountain. It's a song about coal mining that's touches me so deeply that it makes me want to weep. It also makes me want to write beautifully tragic stories.

It got me thinking about things and places I'm drawn to, that I've always been drawn to. I don't know, maybe my viewing of COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER at the tender age of twelve influenced me (and coincidentally, Levon Helm played Loretta Lynn's father in the film), but I do have an attraction to the culture of coal mining, West Virginia, and Appalachia. Mind you, it's a romanticized version (like if Disneyland had a "Coal Mining Land"), but an attraction just the same. And I don't mean to make light of coal mining–I know it's a tough, dangerous life.

Someday I'd like to write a story set in this world, but my greatest fear is not doing it justice. It deserves to have justice done.

But that said, I felt the same way about London, specifically 17th century London. I honestly don't know why I thought I could write a novel set during this time (especially my first novel), but somehow I managed to do it. I'm still working on doing it justice, but I have no doubt I will.

So there's hope for my Appalachian mystery yet.

Other things I'm drawn to:

— Voodoo and other African religions and how they adapted themselves to Christianity
— Storyville in New Orleans
— California Gold Rush country (I grew up there)

Will I ever write stories or novels about these places/things? I probably will. But one thing just struck me–everything I'm compelled to write about starts with a place or a time in history, or a theme. The characters come second. I don't mean to say they come second in the actual writing, but the thing that forms first for me is the setting, and then I mold the characters to fit into it. I wonder if that will change as I continue writing?

What about you? What are you drawn to?



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