We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
It’s my privilege today to bring you the fabulous Catie Rhodes. Catie is the only writer I can think of who can get me to read paranormal. It’s just not my genre, but she makes it so interesting I’ve been an avid fan of hers for some time now. Join us as she talks about her East Texas background, her interest in things weird and her book, Forever Road.
Back Where I Come From
David was kind enough to invite me here to talk about East Texas and how it relates to my new paranormal mystery Forever Road.
Let’s start off like David Copperfield, shall we? I was born and spent the first thirty years of my life in Angelina County, Texas. It is deep in rural East Texas, about an hour west of the Louisiana border.
We lived in Lufkin, which, other than Nacogdoches, is the largest town for about seventy miles. Even then, seventy miles only gets you to Tyler, Texas, which ain’t that big of a city either. Next largest city is Beaumont, which is ninety miles in the other direction. It’s isolated out there.
People drive through the place where I grew up and remark about how pretty it is, how they want to retire there.
And it is pretty.
In Angelina County alone, there are thousands of acres of National Forest, jammed with sky-high pine trees and all kinds of wildlife. The astringent scent of pine hangs in the air on cool fall days. Driving at night, headlights catch the glow of deer eyes on the roadside. It’s peaceful, bucolic.
The East Texas I write about, however, is not the one to which people imagine themselves retiring. The East Texas I write about is the one I came from.
In the East Texas where I grew up, there were few high-paying jobs. It’s a place where 18.4% of the population lives below the poverty level. We were so poor, eating out at Burger King a couple of times a year was a big deal. Since moving to the suburbs of Houston, my husband earns significantly more money than he did in East Texas.
[For comparison on the poverty level percentage: Overall, Texas reports 17% living below the poverty level. The county in Texas where I now live reports 11.5% of the population living below the poverty level. For the years 2007-2011, the United States reported 14.3% living below the poverty level. You can look up any place you want on the United State Census Bureau’s Website.]
I’m fond of quoting Springsteen when people ask me when I plan to move back to East Texas:
“Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run”
~ “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
Despite that, I return to East Texas in my fiction. The reason is that Angelina County and East Texas are still “home” in my mind. In spite of the hard memories of scrambling just to buy the basics, there are things I love about it.
They are (in no particular order)
· The miles and miles of two-lane blacktop snaking through the towering trees and the way the sun flashes through the trees in little bursts as you drive along.
· The way you can hear a woodpecker from a long distance because it’s so quiet out in the country.
· The huge expanse of Lake Sam Rayburn and the way the sun sparkles on the water and the way it feels like you’re the only person on earth in some of those hidden coves.
· The song of the birds and the frogs and crickets.
· In the deep woods, the stars are so bright and clear.
More than any of those things, though, Angelina County and East Texas are home because that’s the place that shaped me, the place I’ll never forget…even if I try. It was there that I learned the way of the world and how to survive.
The East Texas I grew up in is the one where my heroine, Peri Jean Mace, lives. She ekes out a living doing odd jobs and spends the rest of her energy trying to pretend she doesn’t see ghosts.
Let me turn this over to her.
My name’s Peri Jean Mace, and I’ve seen ghosts ever since I can remember. Don’t get too excited. Seeing across the veil branded me as a loony during my growing up years, and I learned to keep my yap shut about it.
Now I’m not sure I can anymore.
See, my cousin up and got herself killed the very same day I promised her a favor. Now she’s back in spirit form and determined to make me pay. If I don’t solve her murder, she’s going to haunt me forever. Talk about the debt collector from hell.
That’s not my only problem. An obnoxiously hot cop wants to arrest my best friend for the murder. My bigmouthed archenemy holds a clue to the killer’s identity. And there’s this mean—and ugly—woman who wants to beat me up.
None of this can turn out good.
Forever Road is $3.99 at Amazon.com. Click here to download your copy.
The print version will be out in late April/early May.
Catie Rhodes decided to turn her love of lying into writing fiction after she got fired for telling her boss the President was on the phone. It didn’t take Catie long to figure out what she wanted to do when she grew up. Drawing on her East Texas roots, her love of true crime, and her love of the paranormal, she writes the kind of stories she wishes the bookstores sold. With her faithful Pomeranian, Cosmo, at her side, Catie relishes being that kid your mother warned you about, the one who cusses and never washes her hands after petting the dog.
Find Catie Online:
Now, after you leave a comment below, click on Catie’s Blog and read my post over there.
For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.
Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.