Composing on my grandfather’s manual typewriter in Jamestown, Tennessee, I decided at age ten to be a writer. It took a while. The closest I got was in college when I sent a story to The Atlantic Monthly. The rejection letter should have dropped me to my knees. “You write with a facility that has held our attention," it said; "we look forward to more from you.” My fiancé made fun of me. I never sent them anything else...
And then in 1982 I wrote a novel about snakes, the Holy Spirit and sex. Called THE ANOINTING, it was published by Dell Books as an original paperback. In it a beautiful young girl with special gifts of seeing and hearing (Moiria Taylor) accompanies her preacher father deep into the Kentucky mountains to confront the leader of a snake-handling church who represents perversity and evil. Moiria meets an innocent young man (Scottie) whose mother is a member of the snake-handling church. Together with the preacher (Hiram Taylor), Moiria and Scottie try to stop the evil and are almost destroyed in the process.
When THE ANOINTING was published, I was certain my career was launched. But something similar to the critical reaction by my fiancé happened. My family and close friends were horrified. “How COULD you write a book like THAT?” they said.
Instead of thinking that maybe I had something interesting to say since people were making such a fuss, (THE ANOINTING is a very scary story--mix sex and spirituality and you've got a really hot topic) I was crushed. My creative juices dried up.
I thought I had only two choices: continue writing from some deep place or loose approval of people I loved.
Forgive me for the decision I made. I was young and scared.
Finally in 1996 I wrote a publishable novel again, and it was mostly for fun.
ARTISTS DIE BEST IN BLACK
While I was running an art gallery in Richmond, Virginia, I was intrigued both by the artists I met and the gallery neighborhood. That interest became ARTISTS DIE BEST IN BLACK, a story about an art dealer (Rosemund Wallace) who solves the murder in her gallery of her best friend’s son. In the process she falls for the detective investigating what he is certain is suicide.
Some 19 years later ARTISTS…was made into a movie, set in the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
In between the writing and the filming, I moved to Mexico and wrote a biography of one of Mexico’s most important artists. It was called RODOLFO MORALES: El SENOR DE LOS SUENOS, and was published in Spanish where it was introduced to the public in Mexico City by Andres Oppenheimer, the Latin American correspondent for the Miami Herald.
RESOLVED TO SAIL
Following the unexpected death of Rodolfo Morales I moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, and opened an art gallery, which was devastated a year later by Hurricane Katrina. While on the Coast I wrote a history of the Gulfport Yacht Club, (RESOLVED TO SAIL), a fascinating project based on decades of archives and old photographs and the rebuilding of the club after 3 hurricane destructions.
THE LAST DOCTOR IN AMERICA
A return to Richmond, Virginia, led to THE LAST DOCTOR IN AMERICA, an account of the professional life of George Meyerhoff, M.D. through interviews with his patients. Dr. Meyerhoff belongs to a vanishing breed of physicians who prize their personal relationship with their patients more than becoming a medical technocrat. The sad state of health care in America—where technology rules, rather than focusing on the patients-- is the underlying theme of the book.