Part of my inspiration for this novel came from my interest in Aesop’s Fables and, in fact, my liking for all sayings, adages, proverbs, and quotations. Each chapter of Putneyville is headed by one of Aesop’s Fables, one appropriate to the action to follow.
My mother used sayings constantly in daily life, so I was exposed early. Her two favorites were ‘Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched’ and ‘Pride cometh before a fall.’
I’m afraid I never learned to follow this excellent advice.
Another inspiration for Putneyville was my own love of animals and the knowledge of America’s ever-increasing involvement with household pets. From Google:
Facts about Pet Ownership in the U.S.: It’s estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat.
So why not write a book about a family in which each member has an intense involvement with animals? In a small town in Colorado, the Cherrystone family matriarch runs the town animal shelter; her son Cal is a veterinarian, and even though he is married with children, falls in love with a beautiful heiress who runs a wild animal rehabilitation center. Cal’s sister owns a disorderly mongrel— or the mongrel owns her— and one of Cal’s daughters has a menagerie of hamsters, dogs, cats, rats and turtles. But Putneyville isn’t just about animals; the plot involves love, sex, a young biracial boy caught between two families, and the egregious misuse of land by a crooked local politician.
In THUNDERBLUNDER (unpublished juvenile trilogy) my love of adages shows up in young Tessa’s “Guidebook to Goodness.” Tessa and her brother Alex share many adventures, and Tessa has a saying to match every situation. At one point, she even quotes Confucius!
Further, in my novel The Wind Came Running, each chapter is headed by a literary quotation, and the father in the Fields family is nuts about bird dogs, as my own father was. He raises pointer and setter puppies, trains them to hunt quail, and sells them for good money in the middle of the Depression.