As I sit down and bang out this latest installment of a blog, I ask myself, “Who came up with that word?” Couldn’t they have conjured up something with a more appealing name? It sounds like a 1950’s science fiction creature that ate a small town somewhere in California before the hero, a tall, dark and handsome scientist (always a scientist with a shapely girlfriend who finds herself stuck in some sort of primordial goo and has to be rescued by the Eagle Scout turned researcher)…
I’m sorry – I digress before I ever get started. Isn’t it funny how your mind does that? You sit down to talk about They Sow the Wind, the latest installment in The Peacemakers Series, and fragments of old, and very bad, movies flash in front of you. Bits and pieces of things we have experienced have a habit of doing that…they make cameo appearances, sometimes completely out of the blue. Without warning, there they are. So it was with writing They Sow the Wind. Little snippets of memories of people, places, events, conversations, interviews; these all came to visit me as I wrote.
Let me give you an example. For twenty-three years I worked in the Texas prison system. My job was such that I spent a significant amount of time conducting face-to-face interviews with inmates, both male and female. Part of my job was to interview inmates in Administrative Segregation, the most restrictive housing, other than solitary confinement. “Ad Seg” is where the gang members and the worst of the worst inmates are housed. They present a significant threat to the safety of other inmates, officers or themselves and must be kept separate and under very close supervision. My job was to interview them every few months and make a determination if they were still a significant threat. Even though I am fifteen years removed from the prison, I can still remember the sights, sounds and even the smells of the cell blocks that housed gang members.
In They Sow the Wind, David interviews a notorious member of the Mexican Mafia. As I wrote that interview it was like I sat across from the inked Hispanic and was conducting the interview myself…just like I used to. The bits and pieces flew back from the past and seasoned the dialogue and narrative. I could see Hector turn his head to one side and hear the lilt in his voice when he told a lie. The handcuffs with a belly chain and the cheap plastic chair he sat in….
In both The Key and They Sow the Wind, bits and pieces of memories came together to form the setting and people in the stories. It’s the alchemy of those snippets of memories and imagination that come together to create a novel. A pinch of a conversation, a dash of a high school friend, two teaspoons of a bygone job, a cup of a boss I didn’t much care for, just a sprinkle of an old flame, thoroughly immerse in prayer…slowly simmer for a year over the low flame of a laptop computer and there it is…They Sow the Wind.