Message From The Author

Author's Message

Most of the time when people ask me whether I get ideas from my own life, I tell them — truthfully — no. Usually my ideas come from trying to imagine other people’s lives, which always seem so much more interesting than my own. For Miss You Most of All, though, I knew I wanted to write a book about a summer. And when I think about summer, it’s hard not to be drawn back to my childhood in East Texas, outside a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little town not unlike Sweetgum, Texas, in my story.

Growing up, summer always seemed like a time of wonderful, lazy isolation. Apart from a stray week at vacation Bible school or camp and a few chores, my sisters and I had nothing on the agenda. Loafing was raised to an art form. In the days before internet or even cable, we still managed to glut ourselves on television, planning days around The Merv Griffin Show, Lone Ranger re-runs, and the afternoon movie. When we got tired of the tube, we might retreat to our own corners with a book or some project (my oldest sister always seemed to be sewing). Sometimes the lure of a bike ride, or a ride on our overfed and extremely stubborn horse, or a swim in the lake nearby would tempt my sisters and me out of the house during these steamy months. I think all sisters have a close bond, but those long summers of loafing and being thrown in each other’s company gave us a special sense of camaraderie. Sibling rivalry seemed like a luxury we couldn’t afford.

But the grass is always greener. During periodic trips into Dallas, I would watch kids strolling around neighborhoods in pairs or packs. Where were they going? Maybe heading to the 7-11 for an Icee, or a friend’s house, or the library. It didn’t matter. To me it seemed that those children were living an unbelievably free and sophisticated existence while I was stuck two miles outside a town that didn’t even have a post office. I started to wonder why my forbearers would have preferred a tick-infested wilderness with snakes and armadillos for neighbors to the glamorous life in the metropolis. Physically I might have been planted in a Hooterville world, but I became a city girl in my heart.

Flash forward thirty years. I started reading about agritourism: places in rural America where visitors — many of them women — could pay to get hands-on experience of rural life and farming. By this time, I understood why a New Yorker in a cramped apartment might be willing to pay for a week or two of fresh air. Or for the ability to look up at a night sky and actually see stars. Or to experience silence broken only by the sounds of nature: wind rustling trees, and birdsong, and even the buzz of cicadas.

In the story that began to form in my mind, it was summer in Texas, and naturally there were three sisters, but sisters who had grown up with tensions that were absent from my own life. In Miss You Most of All, two sisters, Laura and Rue, are trying to make a living farming and receiving paying guests on their farm — a sort of hands-on bed-and-breakfast. Laura is brash and in a constant battle with her emotions, while Rue is the more patient and sensible, quietly keeping the wheels turning smoothly. Both are deeply committed to each other and to the farm where they grew up. Into their somewhat ordered world comes their long lost ex-stepsister, a thoroughly urban misfit, who stirs up old feelings, resentments, and secrets.

Also, when I wasn`t looking another character crept into the story — an eleven-year-old girl who, having spent all her life on a farm, begins to see herself in terms of a wider world and feels the push-pull between family and friends. Where she came from, I have no idea...

 

Elizabeth Bass has written numerous books under her pseudonym Liz Ireland, as well as co-authoring Regencies with her sister Julia under the name Alexandra Bassett. She can be reached at her website, or on Facebook. Readers can also follow her on Twitter.


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