I credit Helen Hooven Santmyer for inspiring me to write novels. Way back in the early 80’s I read her sweeping novel, And Ladies of the Club. I loved that book.
At the time, I just had my first baby and lived on a cattle ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills. I felt lonely and completely out of my element. Despite having business career aspirations and sporting a shiny new college degree, I’d married a rancher and moved to rural isolation. In my youthful optimism, I figured I’d find some sort of business in which I’d excel. I hadn’t accounted for the absolute ruralness and my natural tendency toward laziness.
Along the way, I’ve gained inspiration from others, specifically Mari Sandoz. Sandoz grew up in the Nebraska Sandhills, in the early part of the 20th century, when survival was a full-time job. Her abusive father thought writers were less than worthless. Yet Sandoz prevailed. She suffered more rejections than would stymie almost anyone else. At one point, she piled all of her manuscripts in her backyard in Lincoln, Nebraska and burned them. But she went on to become a bestseller, an award winner, and an icon. And she started out in the same harsh bit of the country where I’d placed myself.