Via de la Valle

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.

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