There are any number of reasons I could give you why I love C. Hope Clark, not the lease of which are her free writers aids, Funds for Writers and her newsletters, and the fact that she is of the genus Austeralis Dominæ, Southern Belle - one of my personal favorite. Now there is another reason: Lowcountry Bribe, her new novel. For a first time novelist, Hope has hit a winner. I've invited her to share something with us here at Poetica in Silentium, and ever the gracious Southern Lady, she graciously accepted. Take a look at this and then GO BUY HER BOOK!
Here is C. Hope Clark:
What if Real Isn't Real Enough?
By C. Hope Clark
These days I'm running my legs down to stumps, or rather fingers down to nubs, promoting the release of Lowcountry Bribe, A Carolina Slade Mystery. Just released in February by Bell Bridge Books, the first in the series is set in rural South Carolina. The story takes a US Department of Agriculture bureaucrat and turns her into a rogue, amateur sleuth when a threat arrives in the form of a hog farmer. And I find myself chuckling about the whole situation because I was once offered such a bribe. By a hog farmer.
So is the book about me? Not at all. I actually wrote about the real situation, years ago, in an effort to exorcize the traumatic event out of my system. Took me two years to complete the task only for editors, authors, and an agent to tell me that the story wasn't interesting enough.
The situation, at the time, scared me silly. The case involved federal agents and I received a warning from the culprit that he'd "get" me, but the case fizzled, he went free, and I moved on. So I did what any self-respecting writer does in such a situation: I turned it into fiction.
Jesse drew me by my stretched sleeve to the truck bed, my face barely a foot from the nearest body. "There's ten thousand dollars in it for you," he whispered, draping his arm around my shoulders. "If you find a way to get me the Williams farm. We can iron out the details later . . . in private." He winked and clicked his tongue. "If you know what I mean."
Panic coursed through me at the altered state. Like hearing that your churchgoing mother liked bourbon straight and sex on top.
He'd offered me a bribe.
The opening chapter of Lowcountry Bribe is similar to reality, but from that small piece of my life, a story takes off on its own with new characters, a different location, and the craziest of twists . . . and I had an absolute ball spinning the yarn into a whole different reality . . . a world of its own.
O-positive primer wasn't quite the color I had in mind for the small office, but Lucas Sherwood hadn't given the decor a second thought when he blew out the left side of his head with a .45.
As the office manager, I identified Lucas' body for the cops, and gave the poor man a quick moment of silence with thoughts to a higher power that he be let through the pearly gates. He died in a place he didn't like, doing work he wasn't very good at, having no place else to go. No mother gives birth thinking her child will end up like this. Reading the unexpected note scrawled across his desk pad, gripped me. "Sorry, Slade." Apologizing for what, I didn't know.
Damn it, Lucas. What were you thinking?
Lucas Sherwood was death number two. A year ago, almost to the day, my easygoing boss Mickey Wilder drove to one of the islands and never returned. I immediately stepped into Mickey's job but sensed he continued to peer over my shoulder, my perpetual mentor. His leadership spirit still hovered in the office. The cops labeled his disappearance a probable suicide based on a string of personal factors I wasn't privy to. The police moved on. We remained behind, shaken in our foundation of Mickey thanks to the whispers and innuendo.
None of that happened. But I could envision the office I once inhabited as I walked through the set up. I once worked on those references islands. Nobody disappeared like that, but stop and think . . . what if? Take any crossroad in your life and ask . . . what if? Therein starts a tale.
When writing instructors say "write what you know," it doesn't always mean that you record precisely what you experienced or remain limited by the exact facts. Writing what you know is a seed. Plant it, then let it sprout, climb, coil, fork, blossom and bear fruit that you never expected. If we only wrote in the familiar, we'd become boorish and self-absorbed, but if we take a moment to get quirky, unique, and creative, that "knowledge" becomes remarkably entertaining.
Hope is founder of FundsforWriters.com, a career resource for freelance writers, recognized by Writer's Digest Magazine in its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2001 through 2011. Her online publications reach over 43,000 readers each week, and she makes appearances at conferences across the country. In 2012, Hope will speak in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Iowa and Oklahoma. www.fundsforwriters.com
But Clark considers the Carolina Slade Mystery Series her professional personal best, debuting with Lowcountry Bribe. The novel won several awards as it evolved, from semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award to finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery/Suspense. Hope graduated from Clemson University, in the field of agriculture, enabling her to walk the walk of her protagonist, the illustrious Carolina Slade. www.chopeclark.com