When I was a child my family did not have a television until I was ten years old, as my mother was afraid of its effects on children. Children should either play outside or read. And so I did both of those things.
Everyone’s childhood has painful periods, and amid these, reading became my solace and my joy. It wasn’t long before I also wanted to try my hand at writing. In second grade, I remember writing a “biography” of Abraham Lincoln that started with the sentence, “Young Abe hurried down the path.” Somehow I had by then assimilated the idea of beginning a story in medias res, which just goes to show how reading speaks to the subconscious.
My memories of being outdoors in childhood grow brighter and richer each year, more so, perhaps—as Chekhov says—than those experiences actually were. Yet even so, they planted my feet in the earth. To me there was nothing more satisfying than playing “pioneers” with my siblings or neighborhood friends, building forts, splashing in our rocky creek, and making pretend food from sticks and leaves and dirt.
These experiences have been touchstones throughout my working life. I have done an array of different kinds of jobs, each of them satisfying in its way. I have been a teacher, a librarian, a stay-at-home mother, a journalist and an attorney. Writing has been interwoven into every chapter of my life, and in 2006 I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from North Carolina State University. In addition to many feature stories and reviews from my days at Raleigh’s News & Observer newspaper, I have published short fiction in Painted Bride Quarterly, Persimmon Tree, The Louisville Review and elsewhere.
Writing is a solitary occupation, yet for me it has been the way to connect with people as well as with my own experience. When I turned my attention to writing a novel, I went back to those memories of being outside, and I know that every book I have ever read is in my novel in some way—in a word, a glance, the way a character turns her head.
And my old friend Abraham Lincoln is in there too. He gave me the words for the title of the book, and his Gettysburg Address makes a sliver of an appearance in its pages. I am proud that Measure of Devotion will be published by Regal House Publishing in the summer of 2025.