Last week I wrote about my own memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis and reviewed a book just published just this week, A Place We Knew Well. Well, today I’m happy to share with you a guest post by the author of that novel, Susan Carol McCarthy. Ms McCarthy share some of her memories of that time in our history and also writes about a writer’s inspiration. As a special bonus, enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway at the bottom of the side bar and maybe you’ll win one of five copies of A Place We Knew Well.
Where do books come from? I can’t speak for anyone else but, I know for sure, each of my three books grew out of very specific, very personal life events. Inspiration for my first book, LAY THAT TRUMPET IN OUR HANDS, arrived in a manila envelope containing clippings from The Orlando Sentinel, about a series of shocking race crimes that occurred in my central Florida hometown the year I was born, and an 8-page letter from my father saying, “Everyone in town knew the local KKK was involved, but no one was willing to do anything about it. I want you to hear, from the horse’s mouth, what I did and why.” My second book, TRUE FIRES, grew out of the first, when I discovered, with my father’s help, the one time that the powerful racist sheriff in the county north of ours, a minor character in TRUMPET, was forced, by strong women in his community, to do the right thing. It may have been the only time during his 28-year reign that the love of power capitulated to the power of love. I was genuinely inspired and privileged to tell that story.
My third and newest book, A PLACE WE KNEW WELL, was, in all seriousness, a nightmare—a recurring nightmare which I began to have soon after the events of September 11, 2001. In that dream, I was desperately afraid and powerless because the end of the world was at hand; but oddly, I was back in Florida with my parents and only ten/eleven years old. It took me awhile to realize that my subconscious had somehow melded my childhood memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis with the attack on the Twin Towers. Nearly four decades apart, my response to 9/1
1—shock and outrage, anxiety and fear—sent me back to a place that I, and anyone who was in Florida in late October 1962, knew all too well. So many books have been written about the Cuban Missile Crisis from the political, military, and historians’ perspective. My inspiration was to capture what it was like to be an ordinary family trapped in the swath of that extraordinary, uniquely terrifying time. This book began as a way of setting down my own vivid childhood memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it would never have been finished without the generosity of so many others, whose shared recollections helped me grasp the larger, communal story. I’m truly grateful to them for their insights; and to you, kind reader, for your interest in this seminal time. ~ Susan McCarthy