Now a near fatal riding accident has shattered Piper’s dreams of Olympic glory. After her grandfather’s death, she inherits the house and all its secrets, including a key to a room that doesn’t exist—or does it? And after her grandmother is sent away to a nursing home, she remembers the box buried in the backyard. In it are torn pages from a scrapbook, a charm necklace—and a newspaper article from 1929 about the body of an infant found floating in the Savannah River. The necklace’s charms tell the story of three friends during the 1920s— each charm added during the three months each friend had the necklace and recorded her life in the scrapbook. Piper always dismissed her grandmother as not having had a story to tell. And now, too late, Piper finds she might have been wrong.
Without further ado, welcome to Karen White!
A Day in the Life of a Mother/Writer by Karen White
People are surprised when I tell them that my life isn’t glamorous. Sure, my tenth novel is about to hit bookstores, and my publisher is sending me on a three week media/booksigning tour in five states, and I just bought the cutest, most impractical yet expensive shoes just to wear on TV interviews. But at the moment, I’m dressed like a homeless woman because I’m in ‘writing mode’, I’ve been yelled at twice by each resident teenager (not including the one ‘I hate you’ from the 17-year-old female child), I’m sitting on a bed covered with three loads of unfolded laundry, and I’m thinking I need to take the dog to the vet tomorrow because he’s chewing on his leg which means he has another skin infection.
See what I mean?
Sure, I get lots of fan mail—my favorite part of this job—but all I have to do is glance up at the sticky kitchen counters, the shoes, text books, and sports apparatus scattered liberally around the house like pepper on scrambled eggs, and I’m back to the reality of my non-glamorous life.
I don’t want to burst anybody’s fantasy bubble, but I feel a dire need to set the record straight. I recently signed a two-book contract for my Tradd Street mystery series, but the books are going to come out two years apart because I simply couldn’t fathom keeping up with writing two books a year and having a life, glamorous or otherwise. When I mentioned this at a book club, the readers—and I love them all!—were up in arms that they would have to wait so long between installments. I told them if I could get the two teenagers and dog to move in with them for a year, I might be able to write a bit faster. Oddly enough, I didn’t have any takers.
Yesterday, as I was cleaning dog vomit from the back seat of my car, I found myself wondering why I make my life so crazy. Why do I have to write? Couldn’t I just keep to a leisurely schedule of a book every five years or so? The answer is easy: no. Writing isn’t just something I do—it’s who I am. When I get a story snagged in my brain, I’m compelled to write it—even if it means carting my laptop to the carpool line, the horse barn, the football field or the laundry room to get it written.
In my April book, The Lost Hours, the protagonist, Piper Mills, finds out too late that her grandmother, whom she’d always relegated to the back of her life, had a story to tell her. And when she goes to dig into her grandmother’s past, she opens up a Pandora’s box into her family’s darkest secrets.
I don’t want to be like Piper; I want to listen to the stories I hear in my heart, then put them down onto the pages of books to share with others NOW—not later. Even if it means getting less sleep than I should, and sometimes picking my children up from school at 3:30 in the afternoon still wearing the pajamas I wore when I dropped them off.
My life might not be glamorous, but it’s mine, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Besides, my children won’t be teenagers forever, and before long I’ll have a quiet, orderly life and house, and they’ll be calling me and telling me how wonderful I am and asking for my advice about life. And if that doesn’t happen, then I’ll just have to write them into my books so I can bend them to my will. Hey, I’m the writer and in my world, fantasies happen.
Thank you, Karen! Is anyone else horrified by the idea of picking up kids from school in pajamas? I'm absolutely 100% certain that if I did so, the day I wore pajamas would be the day someone rear-ended me and I would have to face a couple of deputies, a raft of hunky firefighters and two adorable paramedics . . . imagine that while wearing either robots or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (yes, those are the designs on my pajamas). Not happening.
More about Karen:
Always, Karen credits her maternal grandmother Grace Bianca, to whom she’s dedicated THE LOST HOURS, with inspiring and teaching her through the stories she shared for so many years. Karen also notes the amount of time she spent listening as adults visited in her grandmother’s Mississippi kitchen, telling stories and gossiping while she played under the table. She says it started her on the road to telling her own tales. The deal was sealed in the seventh grade when she skipped school and read Gone With The Wind. She knew—just knew—she was destined to grow up to be either Scarlet O’Hara or a writer.
Karen’s work has appeared on the South East Independent Booksellers best sellers list. Her novel The Memory of Water, was WXIA-TV’s Atlanta & Company Book Club Selection. Her work has been reviewed in Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine and by Fresh Fiction, among many others, and has been adopted by numerous independent booksellers for book club recommendations and as featured titles in their stores. This past year her 2007 novel Learning to Breathe received several honors, notably the National Readers’ Choice Award.
In addition to THE LOST HOURS, Karen White’s books include The House on Tradd Street, The Memory of Water, Learning to Breathe, Pieces of the Heart and The Color of Light. She lives in the Atlanta metro area with her family where she is putting the finishing touches on her next novel The Girl on Legare Street.