I grew up in a West Texas town called San Angelo, from age six to twenty-one. I haven't been back for years, but a piece of my heart is still there. Those were my formative years -- church and school, choir and band, summer camps and holidays. In that town, I discovered my love for writing. In that town, I listened to sermons and lessons from Sunday School teachers that have stayed with me. In that town, I made friendships that are still valuable to me today. At twenty-one, I moved away, but San Angelo will always remain important to me.
Those childhood and teenage memories are deeply imbedded. Which is perhaps why I leaned on some of them to write Painting the Moon. Though the character of Adam isn't based on anyone specific, there were some important friendships I formed in San Angelo that I remembered as I wrote Adam and Noelle's flashbacks. Deep late-night talks about God and life, study sessions that lasted for hours, campfires or New Year's parties or school dances, laughing with friends until my sides ached. All these things impacted me in a powerful way, so that when it came time for me to write Adam and Noelle's teenage friendship, it was easy.
And, maybe in a subconscious way, little pieces of my own hometown filtered through to Chilton Crosse (the Cotswold village in my novel). That close-knit feeling of home and family--the sense that your neighbors care about you, have your back, will be there in a pinch. Those strong, deep roots of family and friends.
The lasting effects of hometown relationships became most evident to me last year. Two decades after I left San Angelo, my father passed away (last September) and the outpouring from San Angelo friends was overwhelming---countless cards and emails and phone calls. Some even traveled more than six hours, to East Texas, to attend the funeral. Just to support our family. I will never forget that.
So this particular article, a hometown article, is very special to me. Thanks to Chelsea, from San Angelo LIVE!, for the interview.