Origin Stories

I’m often asked how I came to the story of Genuine. Was she a character I’d been thinking about, or was it the idea of healing?

I wrote “Possum Days,” the first story in the collection, in 2009 after a bike ride with my husband. We spend some time in California every year, and I will occasionally go out with him if the ride is not too long and includes lunch. On that particular day, we passed a dead possum in the bike lane. I came home  thinking about the possum, the narrow bike lane, the speed and closeness of the cars. I thought about the devastating Witch Creek fire of 2007, which had been fueled by the abundance of dry eucalyptus trees.

“The idea that kicks off a book is usually slight and circumstantial. So I see something, hear something, think ‘That would make a story,’ and then I find its vast hinterland.”–Hilary Mantel, author of the Wolf Hall series about the life of Thomas Cromwell.

I didn’t know when I started typing that Genuine would appear in the story. This is the way writing works. It’s an associative exercise. One thing leads to another.

After that, it’s all in the editing.


With publication day approaching, I am weighing excitement against apprehension. There will undoubtedly be the momentary thrill of opening the small box of books that is allotted to me as part of my publishing contract. A picture worthy moment. I promise an Instagram. But in some moments, anxiety pulls the scale deeper towards the table, because once the box is opened, as in “out in the world,” there is no putting the books back. Ask Pandora.

Best seller or castle in the sand? Writers live with rejection as a part of everyday life. Book contracts or literary prizes come after a long dance with rejection, and the music to that waltz often continues as a nagging  earworm. Despite the advance praise and confidence of the publisher, writers fret. We are fretful people.

But right now, in this moment, I’m swinging to the music of hope. I hope to find readers. I hope that Genuine dances into their hearts. I hope to have endless conversations about her.

Feel free to mosey on over to the tab marked “connect.”