Bren McClain is the author of the award-winning novel One Good Mama Bone.
She and I met in 2018 in a project featuring our novels in a line-up of Southern fiction titles around the Southeastern United States. I hadn’t even read her book when we met, and I suspected she was someone special.
Then I read her book.
And her writing confirmed my suspicions.
Bren’s writing talent is a force.
She lives outside of Nashville, TN on a hundred-acre wood she calls “Peace of Soul Acres” and is currently working on her next novel Took.
We talk about growing up in and leaving Anderson, S.C., her writing journey, and how her spirituality flows into her writing. She is a kind soul. A supportive soul. Hear what she has to say about One Good Mama Bone and her work in progress. I guarantee you’re going to end this episode needing to read her work.
Subscribe to Southern Life Indian Wife where you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and TuneIn. Keep up to date with the podcast and my upcoming book news by following me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! And…email me at email@example.com to order a signed copy of my book The Unexpected Daughter.
I’m a lifelong Southerner married to an Indian man who grew up in South Africa during apartheid and I am fiercely proud about. If you don’t like that Well bless your heart. I’m Sheryl Parbhoo and this is “Southern Life, Indian wife”.
Bren McClain is the author of the award winning novel “One Good Mama Bone”.
She and I met in 2018 in a project that featured our novels and a lineup of Southern fiction titles that traveled around the Southeast US
I hadn’t even read her book. When we met. And immediately I suspected she was someone special. And then I read her book and her writing confirmed my suspicions Bren’s writing talent is a force. She lives outside of Nashville Tennessee on one hundred acre wood she calls peace of soul acres and she’s currently working on her next novel entitled took in this episode we talk about her growing up in and leaving Anderson South Carolina her writing journey and how her spirituality flows into her writing. Bren is a kind soul. She is a supportive soul hear what she has to say about one good mama bone and her work in progress here. I guarantee you’re going to end this episode needing to read her work. And here she is Bren McClain.
Bren. It is so fun having you here today. Thank you so much for joining me.
Oh thank you for having me. It’s such an honor Sheryl I appreciate it.
This is great because you know this is I think the first time I have gotten you all to myself to be able to talk about whatever we want to talk about.
Oh I know because we’ve always been in groups wonderful groups but yeah this is one on one and I can’t wait to explore life and all that we’re going to talk about. Yes definitely.
Yeah I kind of feel like you know kind of maybe hooting and hollering a little bit but I might get my dogs barking in the mouth of fear I can hear it.
Oh yeah. I don’t want that. No no we do know.
But anyway thank you so much for taking time away from your writing because I know that you are deep in writing mode. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Right now I’m pretty much on my fourth cup of coffee because I’ve been trying to write early in the morning too. Oh good. That’s yeah. Yeah. How’s it going. It is going it’s gone really well. You know in that revision stage and that’s tough you know you always go back in second guess yourself.
Oh gosh yeah. Oh man. Because really writing is about making decisions. Because when I go through my first draft you know I have well I could say it like this or I could say it like this or it could be like this and I just kind of keep moving. But when you go back in revision you’ve got to make a decision. You have to make that really critical decision because that’s.
Permanent. I guess once you’re on your last version of revisions it is and always find that difficult.
So I’m in the creation stage right now which to me is a lot more fun because you know all kinds of things are possible at this moment.
So how do you get into that writing. Because I know you live on like 100 acre woods like Winnie the Pooh.
You know you you have a lot of distractions and now you’ve got chickens. Do you have to get up early in the morning to milk your chickens or something before you write.
You are not a farm girl. You are showing yourself girlfriend. Oh no I’m not a farmer. No you are not. No no.
Well the Roosters start crowing. Rudy. Actually Rudy too and Kingpin are the two risk takers. One lives one has his flock on one side of the yard and the other one on the other and they do this competing rooster business going on about for 30 or so. The he is. I’m already up.
I like to get up around three to 330 every morning at work and I write with the soundtracks I listen to soundtracks on headphones and so I don’t hear them. Trust me. For thirty in the morning. Kingpin and Rudy two or just call him back and forth trying to outdo each other in their respective calls right now.
Yes so you do live way out in the boonies. Oh my goodness. Yes. What kind of soundtrack do you listen to what kind of gets you going. Well like I write I write in silence. I have to have everything gone. So are you. Yeah. It creates a mood and.
It depends on the scene that I’m writing the mood that the scene is whether it’s like very emotional if the scene is in the beginning of the book or at the end of the book. Different music there’s kind of like pay off music like you know near the end of the book like crescendo climax pay off music when like all of the instruments in that movie it would be towards the end of the soundtrack obviously you know everything all the threads kind of start coming together in the beginning just like in a novel in a soundtrack that kind of lays out what the central motif is a musical motif is. And then what I love about soundtracks is you know you listen to the whole thing and the composer will go back in and envisage some form of that core motif and make it busy or make it slow or bubba bubba. But just like just like in a novel. And so that’s what I why I love to listen to soundtracks and I don’t want any vocals. I mean no me no no no words none of that kind of stuff. Pure instrumental to set the tone. Yeah that really gets your brain creating you get onto that wavelength. Well it does but it’s bigger than my brain. It connects with my heart. That’s the big isn’t it. It kind of puts my heart in motion and kind of gets it thrumming in that for that kind of emotion whether it’s you know full of love or fear or regret or mournful sad blah blah blah. Name the emotions and that music triggers that in my heart.
Wow. That you know. Actually that sounds like a really good idea. I may have to try that because you know I’ll sit in the silent room and you know I’m completely in my head just like you are. But you know it’s hard to get that inspiration and sometimes I’ll even go to Starbucks and you know the jazz music that they have gone in the background and the barista you know steam and the milk that kind of helps me but I may have to try the whole soundtrack thing.
Do you have a favorite one at the time.
And I just discover it I discovered it. It’s saving Sarah Kane. C a i n I had never heard of that at all. His name is like forgotten. McDonald maybe Mark Mark McDonald or something like that for the composer. And I have just fallen deeply in love with that. That’s the one that I play. And I find what I like I’m on. I’m playing song nine right now on that soundtrack and share what I do is I just put it on repeat and I could listen for four hours just to that one song. As I write that scene. How long will you be able to sit and write. At one stretch maybe two hours at the most without needing to get up stretch my legs. Be a long call I can go meet my tickets. Yeah but I would say I can get lost for about two hours but more likely you’ll be more in the one hour range. And more likely what about you. How far along can you go.
I can sit there until I have to pee.
Well usually you’re Larry allies. I was gonna say that but I think I just said something like etc..
Right. Okay I have no filter. Definitely I haven’t got gotten any more today. And that’s the same with me. All right. Yes that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it also. Yes. Yeah. There you go. There you go. Ha ha. So.
So you live in this patch of woods you live in the middle of waterfalls and trees. How does that contribute to your ability to be able to sit down and get into your writing. Oh God. Well before you live there how did your writing process work.
Well I’ve always been I think I was a cat and a former life. I do I do. I love seclusion. I love cozy dark places small places a hike is where I write in the house is beneath a stairwell and so I have to actually you know open a door because the floor is lowered above it. I have to like Bao to go into it. Cheryl. Which puts me in a state spirit of subservience to the work. And then I bow I have to go around this little corner. And then there’s this old gutted organ from the eighteen hundreds that I write in this where my laptop is on top of the desk part of it. So I think living with all of these trees and all its seclusion it’s kind of a you know kind of a maximum version of this little place that I write and secluded cozy you know.
And so I don’t know what it does for me it makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like the world is shut out so that I really can create no distractions. I say that this place call it peace of soul acres. It gives me rejuvenation.
It replenishes me because you know for work work I’m a communications consultant and that means I have to leave the house or go to the airport and go on site somewhere with a client. And then the last two two and a half years I’ve been promoting one good mama bone and eighty seven thousand miles so. Oh my gosh. Have I been out there. Oh my goodness. Eighty seven thousand miles. Eighty seven thousand miles. Oh my goodness.
Yeah. So see that is just anytime. Well that isn’t aid and I think I’m certifiable.
Just just you know don’t come with a little butterfly nets place for me. But you can see them because my life is a real external life. When I go to work I mean it’s way out there it’s it’s it’s not even in Nashville it’s just it’s somewhere else.
And so when I come home I really need to be cocooned. Right. And I really need to get replenished. I say that this place is my church. It’s where I worship. Nature teaches me everything I need right here. I see sacrifice. I see support. I see rejuvenation. I see even in dead trees. They’re still being used. The woodpeckers you know that come by. They’re kind of in service to the whole like in nature nothing is by itself for itself. It all works in community and it all works as a whole. And so I get so many lessons here when I walk outside so that I’m a stronger better person when I go out.
Yeah. That makes total sense and you know that’s just so completely different from my world. And it sounds really fantastic because you know I live on about a third of an acre lie on a golf course on my neighbors.
Don’t you spit on them though don’t you. You know sometimes when they’re loud and cussing at football games and watching TV I want to. Yes I get it. And I have to go into a corner I have to find a corner somewhere in my house. But usually there’s not really a corner that I can escape from my children and my mother and my husband saying oh you know I do kind of envy that you know that that rural you know natural nature lifestyle that you have.
That’s just not something that I grew up with or ever thought was a thing because I always lived in the suburbs. So Tom saw how you. Know.
You know maybe when I get into retirement my kids are grown. You know my husband has talked about rent or not renting buying an RV so we can just go drive around to see nature go to the Rocky Mountains whatever we want to do get away from our kids and go visit them when we want to but they can’t find us. Oh that’s good. That’s good.
I’m in full support of that girl. Maybe I will get to commune with nature when all is said and done with these little people that live in my house. But what a fantastic mom you are.
I’ve seen you in action and you know that.
You know that’s a blessing and it’s one that I’ll never know in this lifetime but that’s OK because I think you’re sort of a maternal figure to people with the way that you kind of nurture their spirit because I know that you have done that with me just in any kind of conversation you are able to build me up and tell me you know stop talking bad about yourself.
Be good yourself woman.
Throw those bad tapes away. Go and stomp on them and put some new good tapes in your head that you listen to.
Yeah that’s a really nurturing thing it doesn’t have to be that you’re nurturing your own biological children you nurture a lot of people so Oh thank you.
He is kind of you. That’s that’s very sweet. Thank you Sheryl. You know that’s I think one of the benefits. You know sometimes I think about my existence here as being a very selfish existence because I don’t have five kids to take care of and nor will I ever have grandkids and all of those kinds of wonderful things that can come in a person’s life. But I think because of my my my being in silence a lot and. In this replenishment thing I was talking about I think what it does is it it helps me then go and be more in service to others because what I want to do is I want to at least leave people as well off as they were when they were in my presence you know. Yeah. And if it’s not better. If I can somehow leave people better off you know a man that’s that’s what is so awesome and so wonderful. But you know I never ever want to leave somebody worse off for having known me or having you know talk to me or been around me that would just crush my soul.
And I think this time that I spend in nature and secluded and cocooned helps me be have more to give other people here.
That makes total sense because people like me. I mean of course I try to be kind to people but I do not have the opportunity to take that time to make a conscious decision to do that with people.
I try to but you know I’m running around yelling and kids and yelling and traffic. And I guess I know what you do. I guess it is a lesson for people like me that are kind of on that hamster wheel just try to keep it all and go and go and survive. So I don’t want. That. Yeah. So we all have different lives.
And and so you know yours works and mine works and other people who are listening their lives are working for them or at least I hope so.
Yes let’s hope so. Maybe listening to this will help them to think about it and be more conscious about how they live their lives in a positive way. So when you were growing up I mean how did your childhood feed into the kind of person that you are today.
Where did you grow up. So I grew up in Anderson South Carolina a very small town in the upstate of South Carolina. Most people have heard of Clemson University accepted especially since it won the National Football Championship 15 miles from Clemson and grew up on a 72 acre beef cattle and grain farm. My grandparents across the road I had the most wonderful steady secure safe kind of life. It gave me everything it shaped everything that I am today. And I think in my writing I’m always trying to get back there because even you know one good mama bone is set on that farm. The book that I’m writing now is set on a farm. It’s it’s an existence that I believe wholeheartedly in. I mean I grew up in a time Sheryl that you know mothers and daddies weren’t scared for their kids to get kidnapped or the worst things you know. Right. We were we play till after dark. We were on our bicycle is going on all kind of roads here and there we were down in the woods we played and creeks with water moccasins it was just a disaster. Oh I mean you’re a watermark assumes everywhere I be but you know we think we didn’t think about that. I was.
Here’s the word Chicago. I grew up free that’s it.
How many people in this world can say that and not many people in this world can say that they had a wonderful childhood. I know I know. People tend to just say oh well you know this was wrong I grew up my parents did this or I was cheated about this. It’s amazing. You’re so very blessed that you can say that I’m blessed in a real a real anchor.
You know I grew up in a time when somebody said something to you. I mean they did it. They followed through. My world was a very very steady secure world. I think that just gave me all kinds of grounding grounding. And I was very moved you know just I don’t know I it just it set me for the rest of my life.
Yes. That’s wonderful. And you know when I read one good mama bone I could feel that and feel you in your writing and in the story and you know. But I’ve kind of wondered. I didn’t grow up in a small town. I didn’t have a hometown. My parents moved me to about nine states I think before I settle down and go to college and then got married. So I cannot relate to that. Oh wow.
Can I. Yeah. I mean that’s just night and day different isn’t it. The way we grew up it sure is.
It sure is. But I also wonder you know what it would be like to grow up in a small little South Carolina town. You know you’re a white girl and you know what kind of connection did you have with other people.
You know I’m just like me. Yeah. I’m like I mean I’m telling you share it.
No no. It was a very same nice world. OK. So let’s go back to it. So I went to New Prospect Baptist Church that we could see from the farm. My great granddaddy planted the trees there. You know my grandparents lived across the road road behind us. My father’s brother my uncle with some McClain McClain McClain just all over the place out there. You know I went to school with the children that lived on the farms around there. We went to that same church and I grew up thinking you know I didn’t know you even had a choice for churches. I just knew that that was that was that we did not have at Centreville Elementary School. All all white until I was in the sixth grade and an African-American boy named Michael one one one African-American was placed in that school when I was in the sixth grade his name was Michael. I can remember him. Now I’m on a five. I can remember him wearing a shirt. That was like too small for him but it was like buttoned up. And I remembered when I saw him thinking you know is his momma probably dressed him like for church or something. Yeah. And I can’t imagine what it would be like for him to have walked into that world. Cheryl are you kidding me. I grew up in a world that was very very same. Not only white but but Protestant. I remember only one Catholic in that school. His name was Ron spin Hardy and I didn’t know what in the world to make of that. What religion is that Catholic is Catholic even Christian. You know a lot of people said you know Southern denominations. Yeah they think that’s not even Christian not even Christian you think Protestant. So my world you know as wonderful as it was I’ve described the safety and security of it. And here’s another S word same. So I had a very safe secure same world that’s where I grew up.
So what was your reaction to this boy that came into your school so late in your childhood. My heart went out to him. Yeah yeah. My heart went out to the friend him. Or did you feel like you had pressure from your friends that that wasn’t okay. I just feel a lot of shame. Shame on me darlin I didn’t I didn’t reach out to him you. You know what though. I mean I think that’s and of course that’s not a good thing for him. But I guess it was a really brave and scary thing for him to go through. But I can relate to how you feel because I kind of went through the same thing in middle school.
I was in a school where we were bused in Raleigh North Carolina busing to different areas was a thing to integrate the schools even back in the 80s. And I went to this magnet school that was in a very African-American urban part of Raleigh and there were kids there were a few Indian kids and maybe two or three African-American kids that were in my little gifted and talented magnet group.
And then the rest of the school the general population was you know ninety nine percent African-American and I’ll just we self segregated because they are different we’re different. And I even had a crush on an Indian boy.
I guess that was the beginning of my primary seven days shadowing.
Yes it’s anybody I can admit to my friends. I certainly couldn’t admit it to my parents. And I think it’s just because of you know growing up that’s just the rules that we sort of live by. Yeah. But don’t you think that that’s a good experience for you to see. Yes. And you know see that child and what he was going through and do you think that it affected your life as you went through life and maybe moved from there.
I don’t know maybe you know of things that I am drawn to writing about you know. And these are your words not mine the underrepresented. Mm hmm. We’ve talked about that. My heart just goes out to the underrepresented. I mean it just chokes me up a bit. I mean I didn’t even know that I even had that memory of Michael until we’re talking about this now this shirt that he had on. I didn’t even know I stored that away somewhere. And how did I remember his name. I wonder how many of the kids I went to school with would even remember him much less his name I don’t know. But really. Yeah. It made a mark on you. I made my way. Yes. Yes.
So you know this small town that you grew up in. What do you think their reaction would have been if my Indian husband had driven through their back in say the 70s or 80s and stopped at a gas station. Because I’ve got a story for you. So my family is from Kentucky and my parents grew up in Louisville but my grandparents and great grandparents and all the rest of them were from a small town called called Boston Kentucky I don’t even know how far away it is from Louisville but it’s pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. And when I was a newlywed my husband and I just got married. We my cousin passed away and he was buried out in the family cemetery out in the middle of nowhere. And we didn’t know where we were go and so he and I are traveling from Memphis and got lost and so he stopped at a gas station. There was nothing else around it was just this gas station he said he walked in there and there were three or four guys you know with with mullets.
I know I can see it now. Yes.
Yes. And he said they were having conversations and literally all of them just stopped what they were talking about and stared at him. And when he asked the cashier for directions to the funeral home he said nothing. And he just pointed down the street. Oh my gosh. So I’m curious about you know was it just this small town did we just have an uncomfortable experience just because we were unlucky or do you think. What do you think it would’ve been like. And Anderson Senate saying really no no doubt.
I don’t know about the 80s. I don’t know but maybe I know in the 60s I know in the 70s I mean Darvish would have been I mean.
OK. So back to the sameness thing I’ve been talking about. I would think you know we had a small small Cowdrey of Jewish people in town and they lived on the other side of the railroad tracks. I lived on the farming side of Andras and the other side of town was you know business people doctors lawyers blah blah blah and the Jewish people tended to live on that other side of town they had several businesses downtown Anderson. I think they were maybe looked on as as an anomaly. You know that was a very small subset subset Anderson. And I think if if Damas should come through. I think it would’ve been the same reaction. I think maybe just some point and maybe some I don’t know. I don’t know if there would have been some crossing of arms backing up.
Whispering You know terrible things. But yeah the the shamelessness back to the sameness thing. Yes.
And I think I think especially with DRM mesh you know in these little southern towns. People didn’t know what he was. They didn’t categorize him. I think they just saw that it was brown but he wasn’t African-American. So what is he and since I don’t know what he is. I don’t like him.
Exactly. I think that’s the order of the different. Yeah. What are you doing here. Yeah what are you doing here. Probably up to no good. No. We aren’t your people that kind of stuff. Terrible terrible. Yes.
But I think when we get out of these small towns when we get exposed to different people we change. So when did you leave. Anderson What. Well first of all what was I know like to backtrack. So when you were growing up there What was that expectation of you as a girl. Did you expect to get out of town. Did you expect to just get married and settle down and have babies and live on the farm. What was that like.
Oh yeah. There was an expectation. I mean you know. No I didn’t even know being a writer was a possibility for me at all. I I was the valedictorian of my high school class. Oh wow. Let me only say that because you know there was you know nobody really in high school trying to get me to go anywhere and do anything. You know none of my teachers none of the guidance counselors my family know my nobody in my family had ever been to college. I think marriage just getting married and having a family and maybe you know getting a job at the bank or something as a teller. Yeah. You know really being a teacher maybe being a nurse you know really that’s that would have that would have been you know where I was headed in most people’s minds.
So what took you out of Anderson. How did you get out of there.
Yeah. Yeah. And here’s what happened. So I married my high school sweetheart and I married him.
August 4th right after I graduated from high school at the end of May I gave up Cheryl a scholarship a full ride to college to marry him. I was going to be his will. He was gonna be a preacher and I was gonna be a preacher’s wife huh. Wow. Yeah. Gave up a full scholarship. I was valedictorian for that life. I mean look at what I did. Look at what I did to myself.
And so I you know was married to him. He was going to college. I was working at a department store selling clothes trillion with the intention that I was going to get on with probably South Carolina National Bank as a teller. Oh are you kidding me.
But after a year yes instead of college and yes my goodness. Yeah. Yes this is crazy.
And so I I sit in Anderson college at the university now. I just said you know I think I’ll just take a class just one class in the one class that I took was English man and girl. I loved it. And then the next semester I took you know I took like a full semester and then I said you know what I’m gonna do I’m going to do this. I was you know this is what I want. And so I applied deferment and was accepted. And so my husband and I moved to Greenville. We’d been living in Anderson at the time and he transferred to Furman also but he didn’t like it so much and then he went on to went on to Clemson. But anyway so I did that and I got a degree at Furman University. And in English I taught high school for one year. I I did not like again and I didn’t like that because I wanted to be a little more mobile. So I got into journalism I was a newspaper reporter in the local newspaper I was radio a radio reporter all my kids I had no idea Yeah yeah I did that. And then one day I found out why no I saw a brochure or something that at Stanford University in California there was something called a mass media Institute. You could go there for I think it was four months was a crash course in broadcast journalism. And then you would get like an audition tape.
And here’s where my life changed that’s the day my life changed because I started thinking Hmm I I think I’m going to apply that I’d never been on an airplane.
Oh my. Then as far as Daytona Beach from Anderson and from Venice and Asheville North Carolina and Myrtle Beach. Blog. I’d never been on a plane. I was married. This was yeah. So anyway I applied I was accepted. There’s one day in the summer of eighty three or four or five something like that I forgot where lethal or you think it was a leap. But I felt propelled it was like my life’s destiny propelling me. I know it and I. I know that there were some people at our church who actually said to my husband. You can’t make her stay at home and of course the answer was No no you can’t. And girl he drove me to Atlanta and I caught a flight to San Francisco where my life changed my life. That’s where my world not just opened but it was flung wide open the doors and it couldn’t put me back in the box that had been in I had. And that’s where my life launched. Through that experience what an experience.
I mean that is such a brave thing for a girl from a small town and in the south to be able to just go and say I’m doing it I’m chasing my dream I’m going to do it.
I felt this surge. And so I did and came back to South anyway. So I just did it. My life literally upside down changed on that experience. Yes. So where do you go. That’s how I got out of Anderson and so. OK I got my first TV job and Columbia South Carolina. Oh. Then I moved to Chattanooga. I was on the air I was an anchor and then I went to Greenville Spartanburg market and worked in television.
So OK that’s how it all happened man.
You became just a worldly person. That’s pretty cool.
Just in England and I don’t even realize what a Southern accent was. I mean. I mean here I am little Anderson South Carolina girl going out to Stanford now. There were people from Paris studying there people from all over the world. I interned at KPI X which is the CBS affiliate in San Francisco. And I I was I became very aware of my Southern accent. Can I tell you what I did to try and work on that while I was out there. Oh yes please do. Because it’s my second visit to go through that. Oh well there was a television anchor at the time named Jessica Savage I on NBC and I thought she had the most amazing diction. I loved the way she talked. So I went to a little store out there in Palo Alto and I bought a tape recorder at all time a tape recorder with the cassette tapes you know that kind of thing. And I think she came on on like the weekend like Saturday and Sunday at six thirty or something like that. Anyway I set that. Recorder in front of the TV and I recorded her entire newscast. And Cheryl then the next step is to transcribe that newscast and read it back with her. And that’s how I taught myself to round out my words open my mouth is blah blah blah. So I always say to Jessica Savage is my speech coach.
Now you do know that she’s still got a Southern accent right.
Girl I do. And I did read and you know you’re around me too much and it’s going to come way way way way out.
But you know I kind of lost it for that but made you know I’ve returned to it because it’s who I am. Why would I want to deny who I am as long as people can understand me. And again I think it’s just a matter of opening my mouth a little bit more you know because I do want people to understand but so that was my that was my journey. That’s what got me out of Anderson right there.
That is so interesting. I just had no idea because everybody has such a different journey from you know where they started in their childhood to writing. You know my my journey to writing was just it started because it was therapy for me when my kids were growing up and I was always a writer and I know I won awards in high school and things like that. Congratulations. I was like Thank you. But I was like you I never really thought that that was an option for me. Who who goes on to be able to write books not somebody like me. Yes. That’s very interesting. So let’s talk about your writing life and where you started with one good mama bone. Let’s talk about the beginning of that book. Tell us what the book is about a little bit and then we got started.
So it’s a story really at its core that celebrates motherhood and it’s the story really of two mothers a human Sarah Kramer who’s the main character in the novel who doesn’t think she has a mama bone that is maternal instinct. Why. Because when she was 6 years old her mother said to her you a guy you one good mama bone in you girl. And it’s set up this belief in little girl Sarah Kramer. Well she grows up gets married and her husband and very best friend have an affair and a child is is born from that. And Sarah alone is left behind to take care of this child. This is 1951 rural Anderson South Carolina dirt poor. Harold drank the money Harold. Her husband drank the money he couldn’t live with himself. You know she has nothing to feed this child that she doesn’t. Worse she doesn’t think she can how Tim wrote. She wouldn’t choose it. I wouldn’t be no good mom. I don’t know how to be no momma. So the story is about what Sarah Kramer does to give herself a new narrative a new way of thinking about herself. Indeed to prove her mother wrong and to really find out and set off on that journey about how can she get her mama bone and there in lies. Mama number number two in the novel because it’s a mother Carl named Mama Red who comes to live in Sarah’s midst and begins to teach Sarah Kramer know all things mother. So that’s basically what the book is about. So one good mama bone is the third novel I wrote. But the first to be published in fact it’s what became of a failed second novel A Novel named Willy June and that too was a novel at its core to celebrate mothers. I wanted. Why did I want to do that. Because I want my own mom and I had the most fantastic relationship and I wanted to. I wanted to honor that while I was writing the book. My mother got very very sick and my mother died in the process of my writing the book. I eventually finished it. Yeah. What a loss. Yeah. Thank you Cheryl. I eventually finished it but I just gotta tell you it just. No no it was just didn’t work. I created the main character Sarah Kramer. Emerson bridge in the novel two of the characters and one good mama bone. But darling it just didn’t work. And I fell in love with Sarah and I just flat didn’t know what to do to fix it nor did I have any energy brainpower or nothing. So I put it up okay and then how. Two thousand four. Let’s see this would have been an let’s just say 2004 I finished it. OK and I don’t know what to do to fix it. If so in four years four years. So I got busy about life and actually the novel that I’m writing right now that materials for this book chose me. And so I began that research and that I spent three years doing that research and then and then in November 5th I remember the day 2008. I’m back in Anderson at the family farm and it’s in the midst of a waning when you separate the mama cows from the babies. Oh it’s a standard farming practice. Yes it’s six to eight months the farmers are hoping that the mama cows are pregnant so they need their milk for themselves and their new baby. But if if if if you’ve never heard it you’ll never know it’s mournful it’s like oh the mom is calling for the babies the baby’s calling for the mommies. Well here’s the deal. At five o’clock in the morning those sounds woke me up. And what’s interesting to me is I had heard those sounds are women. Let me say it another way. I had been exposed to those sounds my entire life. Eighteen years I lived on that farm Sheryl. And I never heard it. You never never never ever affected me. But on November 5th 2008 those sounds affected me. They woke me up. I get dressed. I go outside in the dark. The momma cows huddled at this fence 30 yards away. Their babies and these sounds these oh sounds I’m Oh my gosh. And I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this or not that those sound just got in my bones. I just felt this quivering electricity through my body and I knew in front of me was was the missing piece of the story about mothers that I wanted to tell. So there was this cow in the deep corner whose eyes were cut at me I felt pleading with me to bring her baby back. And so I walked over to her and I said Sweetie I can’t bring your baby back darling but I can tell your story. And so I mean this all probably happened in two minutes two minutes being on site like that and so out out with the old out just by you know even though it taken me five years to write it it was gone. I did though want to keep Sarah Kramer and I did want to keep Emerson bridge. And so I only had that to work with going in to the momma bum’s story and it’s set against the backdrop of a time honored tradition for boys and now girls where they feed out a steer for the county fair. And my own father did that in nineteen forty one in fact he was the first grand champion winner in Anderson. Wow. When I was a little girl I found a newspaper clipping of that moment. He was on the front page. He won three hundred thirty dollars in 1941. Edwin McClain 14 years old you know blah blah blah. That’s a lot of running back that. Gets. Tons. And I remember taking it to him and I said daddy and he said words good to put it but that’s a daddy. It was in the Bible you should also put it back. And I thought now that is a very strange reaction should this watch. So I did as he said and I put it back but I would revisit it you know a few times over the years and it was always the same reaction. So when I was looking for a backdrop an actual plot a plot because something needs to happen for Moneyball is I recall that. And so I used that as my subject matter because Sarah is is poor and she hears about this contest with entering the steer to feed out for the poor the county fair. And so I did that research and wrote about that so that I could understand my dad’s reaction and when I found out why he reacted that way I went to him and he didn’t. He didn’t really want me to write about that. He kept telling me as I was writing my novel get your mind or sort Milch brand go get your money or something. And it’s because he had to get he had to get his mind on something else. That’s that’s why I became.
Because he said Brandt and you know I might not get this now my daddy who we lost three years ago was a Southern Baptist very conservative very crusty old timey kind of guy. Except that when I told him I said Daddy I know why you never wanted me to do this and I told him. And he he teared up Cheryl. Wow. He teared up. My daddy in his 80s teared up and he said to me I sold out my best friend. And so I understood what he was going through. So this novel helped me unlock you know that in my own father he had carried that around with him since he was 14 years old. Yeah. And he would have been probably close to say he was 84 so do the math girl that 70 years.
That’s a lot of time to carry around those feelings in that pain. Yes. How lucky he is to have a daughter that can understand and put that out there.
So it just brought so much you know so much closer so much I mean that moment I’ll cherish for the rest of my days.
Oh that is wonderful. It’s a once you once you got this book written or as your writing did you reach out to other writers in a critique group or did you partner.
How did you assess. Oh because I mean I know from my experience what you start with is not what you end up with. No. Oh gosh no. Oh my gosh you know.
I’ve met writers who really don’t like going to critique groups or conferences workshops and you know all of those opportunities that we can do. But I do. And I did. I have done. Oh my gosh so many conferences workshops. I like the social aspect of it because writing is solitary. And I’ve met so many friends I’ve I’ve done you know three week long retreats I’ve gone to Italy I’ve gone to Greece I do this I go to the Maori Writers Conference I’ve done you know all kinds of stuff all over the South. When I lived in Atlanta I took a classic Carlin walled for 12 weeks. You know I always tend to be in a writing critique group. And I think early on I needed a whole lot of that. And I think what I was doing to Sheryl is I was looking for validation. Yes. Yeah. And relate to that. You can I really what I really wanted was I wanted someone to take you know those those baby words of mine and say oh my gosh this is so wonderful brand. This is you know this is beautiful blah blah blah blah. Yeah I’ll tell you that I seldom got that but not for my age. No beat up. I mean I got crushed but I always kept kept going and I had some people say Why do you even subject yourself to that. You know why. But I think I was still looking for that validation. And I’m just getting a visual now of a funnel. And so you go at the wide part up there. All right. And that was my early writing life and I went to a conference workshop critique. Oh my gosh so much. And then as I’m as I’m coming on down and I’ve been I started writing fiction September 17th 1988. I remember the day I started. So you can do the math to know that I’ve been at this a long time. You have you know up there I mean that you know that cone is wide and then you know you come on down through the years and it just gets more and more narrow doesn’t it. Yes yes. So that today I’m a member of a critique group in Nashville. We meet once a month at the farmer’s market. We’ve been together for guys probably eight or nine years and none of us write the same thing but each of us is willing to step in the other writers world on on the other writers terms. I mean I’ve you know you’ve probably been in critique groups where people say well if this was mine what I would do is blah blah blah. Yeah. Thing is it’s not yours to offer valuable feedback. You’ve got to be willing to go into that writer’s world to want to honor what that writer is wanting to do. Yeah. And so I’ve got that kind of setup now and then I also have a writing partner Janice Sasser. Oh she and I met. We’ve been partners for 15 years. We’ve read each other’s. Yeah a long long time time. Yeah. And if I only needed one one set of feedback it would be Janice. That’s it. That’s really all I need. And we also know each other’s hearts and honor it.
Yes. And that’s a wonderful thing you can trust her. I can trust her. She’s got my best interest and I have hers. Mm hmm. And you know that G is an amazing author too and there is no way she could gave you the wrong advice.
She is going to steer the right direction. She’s so brilliant. I mean let’s mention the novel greatly bird. Yes. That is to dish it out. It is in a name. Her. You know her calling card is her imagination. It’s unparalleled. You’re talking about fresh and original. I mean that’s Janna. She publishes under J.C. Sasser. We should say.
Yes she’s is. And as she’s as good of a person and as fun of a person as she is writer she’s just an all around amazing person all around amazing person.
So I mean so Jenna we’re writing partners and so I am. I’m just fully loaded. I have everything I need.
You are so very blessed. I know that I started going to a writing critique group a year and a half ago or so.
I was bringing sections from my second book that I really was insecure about because I haven’t been writing as long as you have. I started my novel. Gosh it’s probably been seven or eight years now but it hasn’t been that long. And you know I presented a chapter to this group and a lot of it had different cultural things because it was set in a village in India back in the 60s. And of course I have a lot of knowledge about this because of my husband and his family and the people in this critique group didn’t even want to understand because it was different. And I actually had someone in the group Right on there. I don’t understand anything about this culture so I can’t help you with this chapter.
Oh my God.
And I was like oh my oh I know I’m going to shut myself down and I didn’t really reach out to try to find anybody else it kind of scarred me a little bit. So now I need to get out and you know I need to find Mia Jana. So if my Jana is out there.
Come on. Call me in your Jana is somebody that you know and and you don’t we don’t need a bunch. Sheryl you know what we need no one to thank you. We don’t need you know I had somebody tell me owns a bookstore. New Orleans. Very wise man told me one time his brand. Be careful who you let read your work. Mm hmm. And I didn’t understand it at the time because I was that was in my wide open every door open I need I need validation stage. Yeah. You know but really really I mean you got to find someone you can trust with your work and that can be very hard to do but you have to. I mean how you meet them is to you know go to these critique groups that have several people in them and see if you find a connection with somebody go to a writing conference meet people you know and then you know pay attention to who you connect with.
Right. Yeah. That makes total sense and that kind of brings me to the topic of how you and I met. Right. Because I felt like we had an instant connection. Totally totally. So we met in our books were a part of this group where we traveled around the southeast to different independent bookstores and there was a musician that took that book and wrote a beautiful song. And you’re beautiful. Yeah. It was such an amazing experience.
And then an artist an artist too a visual artist to create something original based on the book a song based on the book it was awesome.
And that was just such a wonderful communion of art and spirit between you know all of us artists and the audience and the readers. Wasn’t that just an amazing thing.
It was it was glorious. It was I mean it was on fire. It was so alive. And I got to meet you through it. Yes. That was one of the big blessings just meeting new wonderful folks. I mean you and I. Here we go now.
Yeah. That’s right. It’s probably been what year and half two years later. Yeah. Yeah. It’s awesome it’s just awesome. Yeah.
And for me I felt like OK I’m a grown up writer now I’m among these people that are real authors because I always felt bad about myself like oh I’m not a real author but you know I got to stand up there with all y’all. So that was right. Awesome. No it was just beautiful. It was a beautiful experience.
Yes. And it’s so wonderful to be able to connect with other writers and just feel their spirit and let that sort of feed your own writing your own creativity.
Yeah. And then to see you know what all art has in common. You know song writing and you know painting my visual artist created an apron for Sarah. You know. Yeah. And I loved seeing you know all of those different kinds of expressions. I thought it was beautiful.
Yes I did too. Absolutely. And you know I think I kind of learned to laugh at myself a little bit more than usual because of course you’re used to getting up in front of people and talking but I was not. And so man I would stumble up on that stage or stumble around my world my words or you know whatever but it did give me the confidence to be able to show myself. Yes I can do this. And people tell you when I hear what I have to say so totally.
Yeah totally. And of course your book is so interesting in your own life experience is so interesting. I loved always for you to get up and talk about your book. I mean it was always fresh. I mean you never said the same thing and I always enjoyed you know your own telling of your story.
Well thank you. And you know I never said the same thing because I never could remember what I was supposed to say. So I made it up on the fly. And God bless Dharma. She accompanied you a lot. Yes he did. Yes. Yeah. And you know there were there were times when I would call him out.
You know talking about you know what it was like to live with an Indian man and how that my my book because writing that book was sure cheaper than going to therapy and I needed therapy.
He did a very good sport. Yeah. So that was just just beautiful stuff.
Yeah yeah it definitely was so. So you know I definitely learned to laugh at myself. And of course I’ve been able to laugh at myself through my family and you know the FOBs fables that I’ve done with my kids and stuff like that. So yeah. Are you able to laugh at yourself. Is there anything nobody has taught you in your life. What what makes you laugh at yourself. Give me some stories.
Well you know I’ve I will tell you that I probably didn’t do it early. Well yes I did. Yes I did. What am I thinking. My mother. I learned humor from my mom. My mother loved to laugh. Sheryl and we you know would just be silly. I learned to be silly. I mean we were kind of like Lucy and Ethel are out. I’ll give you a story from my past. I can to you several from now. Just to show you and it’s being playful. I remember driving the car I was probably 16 or 17 years old going down Whitehall road around the corner by the fire station. If anybody from Anderson’s listening near to Centreville community I remember going around that corner and it was as blue of the sky as you could possibly have. Mom and I’d been to town. Mm hmm. And I remembered all of the sudden we looked at each other and we wanted to play like it was raining. I don’t know why. Huh. Turn to turn the windshield wipers on. I turn my head lights on and just was creeping down the road like I was in a violent rainstorm. Now I’m sorry hunker down and I’m hunkered down behind the steering wheel you know we was playing here I am just silly silly silly kind of things and then you know I grew up and tried to be professional and everything. I’ll tell you about a crazy story I came out of here in Nashville my when I first moved here. You know one of the wonderful things about Nashville is it has an unparalleled supportive writing community. And I say unparalleled meaning from any other place I’ve ever lived. Oh wow. I mean I just stepped into a goldmine here. I was at a party last night for. For example. And you go to these gatherings and then they started inviting me. You know when I first moved here 10 years ago and I was not published yet but that didn’t matter. I mean I went to parties with best sellers New York Times best sellers movie producers you know a lot of people who live here in Nashville and there was not this ranking class system we were and so it was a beautiful beautiful thing. So anyway the first year I was here I moved here in September in December. Yeah we were gonna have a Christmas gathering at a restaurant in Green Hills. And you were at Green Hills that’s where Parnassus is. Sheryl I remember that. It’s a nice airy respectable nice nice part of Nashville. Yeah. Huh. Well that’s where it was so. Oh my gosh. So I’m going to have a lunch and I think we’re supposed to be there at eleven fifteen something like that. And so I remembered you know me and my little cowboy getup I’d bought a new Western shirt because there’s a lot of western wear here in Nashville. I had you know my boots and all this kind of stuff. I was going to leave early. Oh it’s just perfect wasn’t it just perfect. Well except I get out to my car and the battery’s dead. Oh no. Oh no. It always happens doesn’t it. Yeah yeah. I couldn’t. I mean I’m like a light nothing nothing nothing. Well the only other vehicle here would be an old farm truck. OK. Yes.
Being a farm truck and their farm is not going to go and really pick you up huh. Oh no because I live you know like 45 minutes away. You know I live out in the boonies and I got to go to that really really rich section of spiel. So here I am and all my new little get up you know got my makeup got my hair blah blah blah and I’ve got to drive this farm truck that basically just sets out in the yard and moves hay around here and over here. All right. Oh my God. So I get it and I go to town and I’m just like my heart and my blood pressure is going up because I’m not starting to get very very anxious because like Oh my God you’re going into the swanky part of town and going to that green hills.
Yes. It was in a mall it’s in the green hills mall is where this restaurant is right across the road from Parnassus you remember that oh section over there.
So I’m going and so I finally get there and I’m like almost in tears. Well guess what it started to rain now OK. By this point started to rain and I finally pull in to this is God get me back for Play and like it was raining isn’t it.
I think Oh yeah. Yeah. OK. So he did send rain.
And so you know I pull into this it’s Christmas time and people shopping now let’s just get get the whole scene here now and at Parnassus and I finally pull into you know the parking lot and I’m kind of winding my way through because this restaurant was kind of at the back part. Well you know I’m I’m going. Going and going in and you know bumper to bumper traffic people looking for parking spaces. And I’m up in this old farm truck. And to my left I look down to my left and there’s this beautiful black Mercedes beautiful sports joke car right now. And this woman is like. Like like telling me to roll the window down you know and she’s doing that circular thing because I’m in such an old farm truck. You know it was a silk still kind of thing is she’s in this fancy Mercedes huh. And so I roll my window down and she says this to me Excuse me. I think your tailgate fell off back there. Oh yeah. I think you tailgate and went Oh my God started to rain. It’s getting late. I don’t know where I’m going to park my tailgate has fallen off in the green hills parking lot.
You’re getting ready to go meet a bunch of best selling honors adolescence and lying.
They’ve they’ve welcomed me into their tribe. You know all of that. So my God I looked in there it was and also saw a man in the middle of the road like picking it up so people wouldn’t run over it and prop it up by a tree. So I had to snake my way in traffic to get back over there and I did. And by this point Sheryl I’d begun to. I was tearing up a little bit. Yeah I guess so. It was just getting to be a little too much. So he puts it in the you know in the back and I mean I’m like late now I’m like 10 minutes late and I go. You know make my way back towards that restaurant and I see that as a sign says valet. Oh yeah yeah. Valet parking. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. Right. I pull up I pull up and the guy actually you know and I’m getting ready to get my purse and to get out of the out of the truck right. Guess what he says to me. He says Man. Deliveries around back. No. Yes. Yes.
Oh did you. I liked it. Tears start.
I think I probably let it go at that point and I said Sir I’m not here to make a delivery I’m here to have lunch actually with a gathering Oh. Oh sure. Yeah. Oh sorry. Sorry.
I called my match and the look on his face trying to figure that one out of course because it’s the kind of restaurant.
You know like in Beverly Hills how they pull the Mercedes out when they valet park.
Yeah. And then you come up with your your tailgate lovin on a farm right.
Yeah. Yeah. So I get in and my um I’m not into this part. So as I’m getting the tailgate in the back of the truck I get soaking wet because no I don’t have an umbrella right. So I get into the restaurant I’m probably 15 minutes late at this point and hair water is dripping off my hair and I’m soaking wet you poor thing.
Bless your heart. But listen I’m you know they still let me hang out because I was at a party last night. Well you know you just you just have to walk into a room when they’re all there and just cut Bren McClane is here. Just go look for the tailgate out on and on. I know you’re in alone in the now. Oh my God.
heryl So that just kind of OK. So if I was like getting above my raising at all that just kind of leveled me out a little bit here.
Yeah. The universe always has a way of doing that. Boy.
But I never made that connection with with the you know playing with momma in the rain and then this wonderful.
You just put it thorny about it ends and it’ll make Yeah. So you. Right. So you’re a vegetarian and so you go into the restaurant for the luncheon with them that made me think. So what would cost you to be a vegetarian was it that experience with Mom or Dad.
Oh yeah. Yeah I had noticed the turning point. That was the boom that was crossing the line. But all my life I’d flirted with it meaning that I would do it. And then you know not and do it then not do it not because I was never I never was attracted to meat really Anyway I liked all the other stuff around it really. Me too. But but you two you unlike all the other stuff but you know in the south now I mean it’s all about to me you know.
Oh yeah. And you know even green beans my mom would make green beans with ham hocks and bacon and say oh toad totals just doing everything she was and everything.
It’s just everywhere meat is kind of king and I grew up in that world. So when I was doing the research for momma bone remember I said I said it against the backdrop of that for each business getting out to steer. So in doing the research I went to Ashland Kentucky where they still have that same world and interviewed kids that were doing it. And they introduced me to this little boy 6 years old 6 years old who was doing this. Wow. And the director of the fair introduced me and blah blah and I said Hey sweetie. He said. I said darling what you do. And he says I’m about Elmo show must stay here. So he said snagged two little tractor supply outfit on belt buckle. You know little wrangler outfit so cute. And I said Darling I’m going to be in there I’m going to be cheering you on I’m gonna watch the show. And I said think what are you gonna do sweetie. And I was thinking because we’re at a fair. He would say I’m gonna go get some cotton candy I’m going to go ride the merry go round. Yeah. Yeah. I’m going to go Candy Apple you know. But no girl he here’s his bottom lip started quivering and I went Oh no. Gosh. And he took his eyes off of me and his steer was beside him and he just started run in his flat hand. You know loving him on his side. Just loving him loving him loving him and I went oh my gosh. And a little boy brought his eyes back to mine and I’m just going Oh God Bran.
And he said this.
He said I’ll have to kill it. I think you’re right. I just 6 year old and I.
I just you know it just took my breath away and I said darling I’m so sorry. And he said this to me but not tonight because that part of the show would be taking place the next day. And I’ll tell you this. He went missing for two hours. They had to delay the auction because of him. Was that because he couldn’t face it yes. Yes. What a thing to have that through. That’s where when I crossed the line that was when all dots were connected in my life and my heart.
And so that’s when it I can understand that you know I didn’t grow up having any connection with animals as living human beings. All I’ve ever known is them being just a slab of meat in the grocery store. That’s where it comes from door. But you know Dharma. My husband grew up as a vegetarian of course. It’s part of the religion because he grew up Hindu. But he also said that his dad was an electrician in their community in South Africa. And so he had to go to a slaughterhouse at one point to do some work. And DA mission went with him and he and he got to hear those cows being slaughtered. And he smelled that smell. And he said I don’t care whether it’s religion or not I’m never going to put any animal through that just because I want to eat. And he has stuck with it. He’s never had beef. And yeah I’ve tried I flirted with vegetarianism and I’ve tried really hard and haven’t been very good at it. I’ll be good about not eating it. And then every once in a while I think gosh I just gotta have it. And I know I’ve just got to have that that conviction to keep me from doing it because I know I feel in my heart that it’s wrong what they do to those animals.
I do. Yeah but you’ve never seen it or heard it. Maybe maybe you go back to connecting those dots you know Darwish had an experience that that did for him and a big personal way. I did too. And I’d heard about what had happened it’s what happens at slaughterhouses and all that kind of stuff. I mean we grown up on the farm we killed you know a cow a year and took it to the abattoirs what we called it. And then Anderson frozen foods we would go and pick it up you know we’d have our roast and our steaks and our hamburgers and blah blah blah you know. So I participated in that my entire life. But I had not connected those dots. They get something about a personal connecting of dots. I have a back to a mama bone. I’ve had people tell me that after reading that book they don’t eat meat. In fact a lady who did my book this past week in a book club and I were talking and she told me that after she read my book she hasn’t touched it since then. Wow. So reading momma bone for her was that personal connecting of dots.
Isn’t that amazing that you know the power of fiction the power of any kind of reading fiction or nonfiction but what it can do for the reader and how you can get with them how.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s pretty that’s something. Can I tell you about the biggest honor that I’ve think I’ve had with this book and it ties into to this. I mean it’s really just still just moved me to my core. Sure. I did a a luncheon and I’ll I’ll just. It’s along the coast of South Carolina Litchfield Litchfield Books does something called a moveable feast.
And I did it really early in my book tour and we were meeting at an Italian restaurant and the lady introduced me and said these words. She said Brand and she looked at the ladies out there she says in honor of Mama red we will serve no meat here today. Wow they had pasta primavera. That’s what they served. And I will never forget it. I’m just. I’m still forward that I mean there. I mean that’s a top of the mountain experience for me right there.
Absolutely. Because those people took so much from what you poured your heart into and it truly is your heart what you put into that book.
Wow. Yes. That is amazing. So yeah. And so yeah it’s been more awesome than a house.
Yeah I can just tell that is fantastic. So what do you expect. You’re working on your second book. So what do you expect from that. Are you trying to convey that same sort of heart and a lesson you know readers with this next book.
Well well you know and let me just state again you you came up with this that I write about the underrepresented. So here I go again. Yes. It seems to be a theme for me and this time it’s based on a real woman who lived in South Carolina who refused to give the federal government the right of way to build a four lane blacktop through the middle of her farm into the Savannah River a hydrogen bomb plant. This is the nation’s largest use of eminent domain in a time of peace. They didn’t need her whole farm they just needed to run a road through it to transport workers from North Augusta into the to the bomb plant and she said no. And so that interests me. But what interests me the most is what happened to her. She said her land was condemned. Here come the bulldozers anywhere anyway. And on August 27 1951 she gets a shotgun out there girl and holds it on and whoa. Oh yeah yeah. She says. I said you’re not coming through my farm you know. But there nonetheless. You know here’s the dust flying and everything. Well they stopped operations. They called the cops. Girl this is all true. I’m not making this up on normal fiction right. But this is true. They call the cops. They got her under control and most people would think what they you know take her to jail slap her hand make her stay overnight give her a fine. You know scare her a little bit. It does scare up a little bit you know. You know girl they took her and her brother was out there with her too. They took them both and she was 54 years old her brother was 48. They took them both to Bull Street in Columbia and committed them in the state mental institution declared them both. Yes. This is all true. Declared them both mentally incompetent and kept him for 16 years. Sixteen years 16 years and I’m writing a novel inspired by this woman again underrepresented. Her life was thrown away thrown away. She was dispensable obviously right. Right. But no no darlin I’m I’m writing her story. You’re telling her story you are doing her justice. She’s still living I’m assuming not it was. Now she was born in 1897 she died in 1980. Wow. Yeah. So she’s been passed for a while but I am here as her voice. Yes. Again the underrepresented and I’m telling her story. That’s what is occupying me right now. I hook line and sinker.
I love that you really are the voice of the voiceless. The those that really can all tell their stories. I love that. That’s what I’m up to. Yes. Hey. So when do you think that this book is gonna be done.
The Million Dollar Agent. I know her. You know here’s what I’m hoping for. Girl by year’s end or early you know January February next year. I’m not I’m not I’m not take the word hoping out because that’s just a excuse word yes. I’m going to. All right let’s just commit. OK I’m going to have it in really really good shape to give to my agent. That’s that’s it. I’m going on record saying that right now. OK. So we’re definitely hold new to it. I’m gonna check up with you then. I’ll be calling you. OK.
OK. Duly noted I’m making a note Sheryl. Back. We’re going to do a thing with me for my manuscript because I am draggin my butt getting this thing done. Well I will be your accountability partner. OK. I would love to let’s do that for each other. OK.
Yes we’ll have like a monthly check in where we have to report in. Well I think that would be good.
You know I mean I’m up for that. You know the first of every month at the end of every month you know what have you done and then what is your goal for the next month. You know. Absolutely. Something simple like that I mean for sure we need to support each other. Definitely we totally writers haven’t hard enough as it is. Gosh you know I mean if in fact I’m leaning over right now I’m making that note you can get a report from me go Oh I can’t get on the last day of this month.
I mean if I am I’m going to do that Oh I’m stuck now.
I better start working.
Yeah I mean I know millions of people now I’ve heard this. So yes.
But Sheryl report I’ve already got it on on Sunday June 30th. It’s written down.
Oh boy. Well I’m stuck. I better I better thought you better follow through. Yes. Yes I am I you.
So what kind of advice I know that you know there’s probably some aspiring authors out there that are listening because I’m sure they’ve seen you on social media and on TV and you know they want to know how can I be like Bren McClain.
How can I get to that point. Well good luck.
You’ve got one of those amazing books you’ve got an amazing story an amazing presence and I know that there are people that look that are looking to you and saying this the success that I want. How can I get there. So what kind of advice would you have to somebody you know maybe a young person in college or just somebody that’s can. I have a story to tell. And how do I do that. How did they get started.
Well the first thing I think is you have to ask yourself why you’re writing you know why do you want to write. I mean is it just something that you’re just messing around with. You know how how important is it. I mean for me my question is my question my answer is I feel like I was put on this earth to write I feel it’s part of my destiny. So if I don’t do it I feel like I’ve I’ve messed up. I’ve not lived up to my life’s purpose so I would ask people that and if the answer is you know this is part of my destiny. All right then let’s get going. So it’s you know giving yourself permission to do that. Yes. And I come from the school that you know you’re telling the story that only you can tell. And so if you don’t the world will be you’ll be avoided in this world without your store. Oh yeah. That’s a crime. So it’s on you. It’s on you to do and you know it’s really on you to it’s not something that you can you know skip out on if you think of it that way because if you think of it as this was given to me and only I can do it then you must. Yes. So that’s believing in yourself and the why of of you’re doing it. I think it’s important to have a community of support. We’ve talked about workshops or whatever even if it’s one person because it can be very lonely. Aha. Just you and the page. I think having patience is important. Let it take the time it takes. I would forget the market place. You know that’s a big and if you. And you know and that’s really about making money. I don’t know. I don’t know about writing to make money to load your writing up you know with that kind of expectation right. You know no I think it will close down on you if you loaded up with that kind of expectation. Absolutely. I think anybody could become just writer to make money. They need to think you better think. Yeah. Oh my gosh. I mean. And so it’s I mean where I come from an up I’m probably overboard but I give it everything I ever thought about heaven and it might be because of the age I am which is at 89 right. Yeah. Twenty nine and a half and a half I will admit that. But you know I got to get to it and get on it. And so it’s really kind of kind of served me. I had no idea it would take me twenty seven years to publish a book. I had no idea. And I guess I’ve asked myself before brand if you knew that would you still do it. And I think the answer is yes. Yes. Because I must. For me to write is for me to breeze. And so it’s my way of making sense out of this world. And so you know I I also try and live in gratitude and I don’t I don’t want to benchmark. I don’t want to look at other people like back to Nashville and the bestsellers here. The people who do make money. I was at a party with them last night. You know what if I started benchmarking and going oh my gosh well I’m not like that. So no no no. Is to really be grateful for my own journey. Yeah. And honor the perfection of that.
Yes. And I think you know for people that are just getting started I think giving yourself permission to feel that way is so key and just beginning and letting it go you know and letting it go and just paying attention to what opens up for you.
I’m paying attention to because I think when you’re in the right vein I think life life will come right along with you and start opening doors and meeting people and hunches in your head and all kinds of other kind of resources so being present being present in the now and looking for the gifts that you really will be given.
Yes that is absolutely right on that hits the nail right on the head because you have to you have to you have to approach it with the right attitude the right raise yes and be open to whatever gifts you can be given through that.
And and then knowing that your journey is your journey it will be like no one else’s. Don’t ever compare yourself. Just be grateful in your own and be mindful of yours.
Yes absolutely well I just absolutely love hearing your positivity. And though I don’t know just the positive journey and the positive message that you have just as a fellow writer as a fellow human being you’re sort of a cheerleader and you have such a great spirit and I’m so grateful that you were here to talk to me today.
And I just wish you the best of luck in your next book and finishing that and having great success with that. So thank you so much for being here with me.
You too and I want to do the same for you. Thank you for your own generosity of doing this podcast cuz you could be using this time to work on your own work. So thank you for expanding to this because this was a real honor for me. And just know that we’re all in this together and I urge I urge you all thank you. As I do as I do all writers I mean we’re I think we’re here to encourage each other not break down but encourage a man a man a man a man yes a man I can get and I mean Hallelujah.
Right. Right. Well thank you so much for that and I look forward to you are more and more to talking to you again very soon. Thanks Sheryl appreciate it a bunch. OK. If you like this podcast so far…
Please continue following along by tapping the subscribe button wherever you listen to podcasts. If you really liked it go on the awesome and leave a rating and a review. Find me on all social media too by searching Sheryl with an “S” Parbhoo. That’s P-A-R-B-H-O-O . Thanks for listening to “Southern Life, Indian Wife.”