What’s The Most Important Aspect of a Book?
By Lesley Kagen
After Whistling in the Dark was released, I received wonderful feedback from readers. They wondered if I planned a sequel? My response was, “Thank you very much for liking the book so much that you wouldn’t mind reading another, but no way.” What I was thinking was, “I’d rather be dead.” Sequels can be a slippery slope, and even if I had wanted to write one, I had no idea how to go about something like that. Onward, I thought. I’ve always been fascinated by what people consider “normal,” and wanted to explore that issue, so in my second book, Land of a Hundred Wonders, which is set in small town Kentucky, I wrote about a brain-damaged young woman who is an aspiring investigate newspaper reporter. And in Tomorrow River, also set in the south, I wrote about twin sisters, Shenny and Woody Carmody, who were desperate to find their missing mother. But then a funny thing happened. Setting is so important to me, and while I enormously enjoyed spending almost three years beneath the Mason-Dixon Line, I started to get homesick. Initially, the setting for my next story was a fictional Wisconsin town, but each morning when I sat down to write, I kept hearing the voices of Sally and Troo O’Malley calling to me. I tried to ignore them, but dang, those two girls are insistent. Still, I balked. I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to re-capture their voices and those of their neighbors, and the feel of the Fifties again. But lo and behold, the morning I tapped out the beginning sentences of Good Graces, there were the sisters standing on a Vliet Street corner, listening to an aquamarine transistor radio, waiting for me to show up with a look on their faces that said, “Hey, there. What took you so long? We’ve been waitin’ on you.” It was so great to be back in the neighborhood… home again… and the story flew. It usually takes me a year to a year and a half and I finished Good Graces in nine months!