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  • Writer's pictureAnne Lovett

How I Wrote my Third Book

With a lot of research


The idea of writing a book set in the Twenties came from thinking about Sweetbay, the farmhouse  in Rubies from Burma,  and maybe setting a story there in the twenties. What I found after a little research was that the twenties in the South were vastly different from the Roaring Twenties of New York. The boll weevil had decimated the cotton crop and there were hard times. I thought of having a fun-loving teen flapper in a small town who yearns to be where the action is, lets her heart rule her head, and  learns some life lessons.



While writing about my main character, Gussie, the flapper, I came to a point when she becomes married and pregnant at 18. Her mother insists that she have a home nurse. (in those days new mothers stayed in bed for two weeks). I began to write about the nurse, Tenny. What was her background? The sentences just flowed out about the sharecropper's daughter, and I kept writing, and her story kept getting more interesting. When I found out she was determined to overcome a bad situation she’d fled from, I knew she was going to take over the novel. Gussie and her story would stay, of course—so I really had two stories to weave. Yikes! Another learning curve.





I had to find out what it was like to be a nurse back then, and what medicine was like; how nurses were housed, what was expected of them, their routines. I had to find out about how sharecroppers lived, how mill workers lived, what happened in a cotton mill. One member of my writer’s group had actually worked in a mill once, and he told me to put in some noise.


The hardest part was trying to get the two stories to intersect smoothly. I was rewarded when a major reviewer said the transitions seemed effortless. (Yay!)  

Those days were not a good time for people of color or people different from WASPs in place of origin, religion, or love interest, as the KKK had been revived.  I felt that had to be in the story as part of the background, and it is, but I had no space to go deeply.   

With all that  said, the heart of the story is in the yearning and obstacles and determination and courage--and love.     




One day, there may be a sequel.

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