I say I’m a Southern gal, which is absolutely true. I write in a Southern voice and think in a Southern voice, but the down and dirty truth is that I was raised in the New Jersey. It’s the skeleton in my closet and I’m planning to keep it there.
I have to because I’ve fallen in with a bunch of delightfully amusing characters, and I’m simply not ready to walk away. Southerners, especially fictitious ones, are out and out fun. They have big hearts, sassy mouths, and lots of superstitions. Trust me, once you visit the fictional town of Wyattsville, Virginia you’ll discover there’s a touch of the South in us all.
Chances are you’ll want to move in next door to Spare Change’s Olivia Westerly—she’s a woman who believes eleven is the unluckiest number in the world and wants nothing to do with children. But remember I warned you about those big hearts; so when eleven year-old Ethan Allen shows up on her doorstep with his mama dead and a murderer on his trail, she does what almost any Southern Mama would do…no, I’m not going to tell you and spoil the fun of reading. I will however caution you that when you stop by, be prepared for a few cuss words because Ethan Allen has a storehouse of them and no matter how often Olivia tells him to watch his mouth, they still slide out.
Long before Ethan Allen came into my life, I realized that despite my upbringing I was destined to write Southern Fiction. It’s okay; I’m entitled. My mama and daddy were from the South. If I were truly a Jersey Girl, I wouldn’t call them Mama and Daddy. I’d call them Mom and Pop.
People from New Jersey talk differently. They don’t say y’all; they say you guys. ‘You guys’ is both masculine and feminine, singular and plural. The same is true for y’all.
When I lived in New Jersey, I spoke like my friends; but once I entered that secret place where it was only me, my computer and my characters, I rediscovered my Southern heritage. I started remembering the soft round words of my aunts and uncles. I remembered hot summer nights and chasing fireflies, walking barefoot in the grass and wading in the icy cold creek. And I remembered making ice cream instead of buying it. The truth is I can’t say that all these memories are mine; I may have scooped a few of them up from my Mama’s stories and simply claimed them as my own. Either way they now belong to me, and I’m free to pursue the stories of my heart.
We moved as far south as we could go and I’ve opened myself up to these sweet memories and quirky characters. In time they became me, just as I’d become them. Yep, there’s a little piece of me in almost every one of them—even the bad guys.
Most days, I’m less like the bad guy and more like Olivia. And like her, I’m always ready to welcome a new friend into my life; so please stop by, sit a spell and let’s get to know one another.
REVIEWER PRAISE FOR SPARE CHANGE:
Midwest Book Review - Skillfully written, "Spare Change" clearly demonstrates Bette Lee Crosby's ability to engage her reader’s rapt attention from beginning to end. A thoroughly entertaining work of immense literary merit. Strongly recommended for library literary fiction and mystery collections.
Seattle Post Intelligence - Bette Lee Crosby's Spare Change is a quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life, madcap adventures of a young boy and a late change of heart that made all the difference in the life of an unusually independent woman. More than anything, it is a heartwarming book, which is simultaneously intriguing and just plain fun.
Popcorn Reads - Bette Lee Crosby has written a novel that’s been compared to work by John Grisham and Harper Lee. I’d add that it also has elements of Tennessee Williams. This is the gritty rural South with its dysfunction, eccentricities and quirkiness, and, beyond that, its down home goodness. If you want a thriller that’s exciting but will also twist your heartstrings then Spare Change needs to be on your reading list.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Bette, and for the wonderful article! Congratulations on the upcoming release of book three in the Wyattsville series, Passing through Perfect. I look forward to adding it to my collection.
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