Years ago, sometime after Hour of the Hunter came out but far enough forward for there to be email communications, someone wrote to me and asked. “Why would you name a character Fat Crack?” I wrote back, “Think of any plumber you’ve ever known.” He replied, “TMI!” Which translates to Too Much Information.
By the way, all joking aside, plumbers are very important. They keep things running, so no disrespect intended.
That was a zippy answer, but it wasn’t entirely the truth. On the reservation, I knew someone named Fat Crack, and although he wasn’t a plumber he was certainly built on the heavyset side and his pants were often at half-staff, but the reason I remember him so clearly is that he was incredibly funny and could easily have been a stand-up comedian.
Once when my parents came to Sunday dinner, Fat Crack and some of his pals showed up. We put some more plates on the table and Fat Crack kept my parents in stitches all through the meal. After he and his friends left, my father turned to me and said, “Why, they’re very intelligent, aren’t they.” I had not yet unpacked the amount of anti-Indian prejudice that had been alive and well in South Dakota when my parents were growing up. The next day, at work, when I reported the conversation to Pauline Hendricks, my aide in the library she said, “Don’t worry about it. You should hear what old Indians say about Anglos.”
So those are the real reasons that name lodged in my head, and that’s why the fictional character in my Walker Family books was given that name.
A few weeks ago, I heard from a young man on the Navajo. (Please note, I did not include the word Reservation. You probably think I should have, and a whole series of copy editors over the years have implored me to add it, but people who live and work in those places do not. It’s the San Carlos, the Navajo, the White Mountain Apache, and the Tohono O’odham. And while I’m ranting, when Anglos use the word Res, it is NOT a good thing.
My correspondent from the Navajo was a high school student who had written to me previously for information so he could do a power point presentation on my books for an English assignment. He wrote to me a second time to let me know he’d been given an A. When I replied, I told him that I was working on another Walker Family book. His response? “Oh, boy, does that mean I get to see Fat Crack again?”
That meant a lot to me because I was thrilled to know that that fictional character based on my long-ago interaction still resonates with a young reader from an entirely different culture, and one far different from my own.
But that discussion about Fat Crack with my high school reader brought back that long ago email exchange, complete with his “TMI” response. And it occurred to me that perhaps my endless discussions devoted to the perils of writing and being engaged in the publishing world is giving my readers a case of TMI, but I’m about to do it again. This blog is a window on my world, and most of my daily working hours are devoted to writing, i.e., writing, editing, editing, editing, and finally promoting.
This week I’ve been dealing with literary whiplash. The last two weeks of August were entirely devoted to doing in-depth edits and revisions to the manuscript for Blessing of the Lost Girls. I sent it off on Monday afternoon, so it was in my NY editor’s mailbox when she returned from Labor Day weekend on Tuesday morning. In the meantime, the galley copy of Collateral Damage arrived and was also in need of a word-for-word edit. Naturally a deadline arrived with same.
So as soon as I finished dealing with the Walker clan, I suddenly had to switch gears and return to Ali Reynolds et al. In other words, it’s been quite a trip. And for the record, I enjoyed both books.
Yesterday morning, my editor sent me a mock-up for the cover of Blessing. It was the first time in my almost forty years of publishing books that my first glance at a book cover literally gave me goosebumps.
So if that’s TMI, so be it. Writing is what I do, and fortunately I love what I do, and I hope my blog readers don’t mind my harping on the subject. Without writing and walking, I wouldn’t have very much to say these days, and I’d be reduced to endlessly writing posts about Pete Pearson’s eyebrows.
PS. If you don’t know who Pete Pearson is, you should go shopping through the blog archives. I know he’s in there someplace.