My new title, “Call Me Softly” came out this month and I’m
pleased that it already has generated a handful of emails from readers. Hey
Mikey, they like it!
One email also contained a question. “…loved the story line.
How’d that come to you?” That’s often asked of writers, and, as usual, there’s
a story behind the story. My answer is: bits and pieces.
My trademark is that I write about the two big loves of my
life—women and horses. My first book, “Bareback” revolved around Olympic
Equestrian Eventing. My second, “Long Shot” visited the annual Chincoteague
“Call Me Softly” started with my long-standing notion that
polo players look powerfully sexy in their uniforms, dashing about on their
ponies. I’m also attracted to the fast pace of the game, sort of like my
infatuation with basketball. I began to research the game in the United States and was surprised to find that a
hotbed of polo was Aiken, S.C.,
only thirty minutes from where I grew up in Augusta, Ga.
I was familiar with Aiken’s reputation as a Thoroughbred wintering ground, but
had no idea about the polo community there. I had my setting.
While I was brooding over what to write next, I reconnected
with a cousin who owns a beautiful cabin in the North
Georgia mountains. She offered it to me and my partner for a week
of vacation, and we gladly accepted. She and her husband brought my uncle with
them when they met us there to give us the keys to the place. I hadn’t seen
them since childhood.
Uncle Willis is a crusty old retired county agent for the
Agriculture Department and still lives in the rural peach-growing area of Georgia. As a
child, I was a little scared of him because he was very tall and a bit gruff.
As an adult, I discovered that he is an adept story-teller. He drawled out a
delightful tale for us of how he and his cronies meet once a month at an old
gas station, raise the grease rack and throw a sheet of plywood over it to make
a dining table and fry fish for dinner. I knew that had to be a scene in one of
Uncle Willis is sadly widowed now and seeing him again
brought to mind my Aunt Lila Claire. I was a barefooted little tomboy, who
thought she was exotically beautiful with the regal bearing of a queen. The
reverence in which my uncle still spoke her name both warmed and broke my
heart. From my reminiscing, the character of Lillie Wetherington was born.
Having spent the week at the cabin, we drove to the North Carolina mountains
for a night at the casino in Cherokee. On the way, I looked up to see a sign
announcing that we were entering Swain
County. That’s when the
dashing polo player Swain Butler clicked into place as Lillie’s date to the
All that was left to decide were the dance moves that would
bring the two characters together. While flipping through TV channels in our
Cherokee hotel room, I hit on an old re-run of “Dallas” and started thinking
about the episode where Ray showed up at the Ewing mansion and family matriarch
Miss Ellie opened her arms to the bastard her late husband had sired. That
started me thinking.
Writing “Call Me
Softly” was a really fun ride for me through the rich tapestry that is the
South. So, grab a copy, mount up and let me now how you enjoy ride.