Sweet Thyme Baby

There are probably as many ways to write a novel as there are authors with pens, pencils and computers. And an author’s process may be as unique as his or her thumbprint. Certain elements are pretty constant however: A character with a problem trying to solve that problem and getting in deeper and hotter water along the way.

As some of you know, I went through a roughly twenty year period when I couldn’t sell anything, but instead of giving up, I actually began to feel extraordinarily free. I read LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA and realized that a novelist can put anything she wants in a book so long as she makes it convincing and the reader keeps turning pages. In this way being a failed author liberated me.

Out of this “what the hell” and “go for it” freedom came the book which will soon be serialized here on my website. It’s a book I wrote without a master plan or even a guiding light. I just went for it, letting myself be surprised by it as I so often am by life.

In SWEET THYME BABY you’ll meet Delight Larue, a porn star hiding out from a great sadness in a garden where distinctly odd things are happening. Watch for the first installment of SWEET THYME BABY this fall.

What have I been doing besides getting STB ready? Trying to begin a new novel and having a hard time finding where the heart of the story lies. Tweeting late at night about my false starts and frustration. As we do every summer, my hero and I went canoe camping in the Sierras. We’ve been going to the same remote spot overlooking a lake for more than fifteen years. This year the water level was the lowest we’ve ever seen it. Rocks the size of dinosaurs were revealed and the island was now part of the shoreline. We had to schlepp our gear three hundred yards from the water to the camp, uphill at 8000+ feet. The miracle was that against all odds, our spring, a quarter of a mile away and, again, uphill, was still bubbling and surrounded by green and sweet-smelling grasses. The silence surrounding us was glorious.

Back in San Diego, we had a hot humid August which residents complained of but our garden loved. The blue plumbago is huge and vivid as are the bougainvilleas and hibiscus. After another few blistering days, there’s a hint of Fall in the air and soon the liquid ambar trees will turn scarlet and I’ll think of Keat’s “season of mists  and mellow fruitfulness.” People say there are no seasons in Southern California but if you stick around long enough you become aware of them.

Change. It’s the only thing I know of that always and without fail happens.

I spent time with my mother recently. This summer’s heat has exhausted Pattie Browne and she’s longing for the rain to come, looking ahead to winter, talking about her great grandchildren, wondering what to give them for Christmas and doting on her dog. Mom’s ninety-five and her sister, Kath in Melbourne will be 100 in November. These two strong old women remind me that even a long life can be too short. There is no time to waste. I am inspired to go back to the mountains, to plant for spring and to write more “what the hell” and “go for it” books like SWEET THYME BABY.

When I was writing that story, I never knew beyond a few pages what was going to happen next. All I knew for sure was that Delight Larue lives in the midst of change and that what happened next would be unexpected and challenging, sometimes funny and sometimes sad enough to make me weep.

Like life.

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One Response to “Sweet Thyme Baby”

  1. Andrea Johnson says:

    I am eagerly looking forward to your next book. Funny you should mention the book, LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. I have had the book for quite a few years, since my sis gave it to me, and I read it last Spring, and loved it! I was talking to some of my friends, and one of them said that it was the favorite book she had ever read.

    Hot and sticky in SoCA today, but soon it will be cooler, and the nights will be longer.