Tuesday, February 16, 2021

My Muse

Feb 16 Terry here, answer our week's question: Is there a non-writer whose work inspires your writing? Tell us about it. 

 It’s no secret that my grandfather was my inspiration for Samuel Craddock. If he had gone beyond the third grade, maybe he would have been a writer, but he was out on his own at the age of twelve and spent the rest of his life as a hard-working man, married at sixteen and the father of eight children. 

 The reason I think he might have been a writer is that he was a great story-teller. I still picture him at the big, family table surrounded by relatives, telling stories. One I remember was about some local kids who dared each other to go into a vacant house. To prove they weren’t afraid, they had to go into the bathroom and touch the tub. One guy finally said he would. One of the other kids ran around and climbed into the bathroom through the window and lay down in the tub, and when the kid touched the tub, he reached out and grabbed his hand. I remember my grandfather slapping his knee as he laughed when he said the kid ran out of the house with such force that he broke down the screen door. Then there was the one about the kid raised by wolves (I kid you not.)
My grandfather, standing with my grandmother in the store and cafe they owned.

   That doesn’t mean my grandfather wasn’t “educated.” By the time I knew him, he read everything he could get his hands on. My mother told me that once he rounded up the kids and told them that the library in the county sea was cleaning out a bunch of books, and they were going to go get some. She said they came back with boxes of books. He felt like he had won the lottery. 

 But more important than his knowledge and his thirst for knowledge, was his sense of fairness. He was no angel, but he didn’t like for anyone to get a raw deal. I remember once being outside with my mother and grandfather and a Black man came into the yard. My grandfather asked what he wanted and he said that he had done some work for a local woman and that she refused to pay him. My grandfather said not to worry, he’d take care of it. Later, I asked my mother why the man had come to my grandfather. She said, “He was the town mayor once, and people trust him because he’s fair.” 

When I decided to set a series in the town where my grandparents lived, a place I knew intimately, I decided to make my grandfather the protagonist. I didn’t want him to be the mayor, because that might not be interesting enough. I wanted him to be a former chief of police, and that people would still call him “Chief” because they trusted him. 

 I think if he were still alive, he would be proud of the man I fashioned from his cloth. I think of him so often--his wit, his determination, his strength. Samuel Craddock has a lot of live up to. And one last note. Some people call Samuel Craddock "Sam," but he isn't Sam. That was my grandfather. Craddock will always be "Samuel."

11 comments:

James Ziskin said...

One of my most favorite series. I love Samuel Craddock and the Jarrett Creek crowd. Keep the books coming, Terry!

Jim

Dietrich Kalteis said...

That bathtub trick of your grandfather's made me smile, Terry.

Mary Lee Barton said...

Wish I'd known your grandfather. Samuel is such a decent man.

Terry said...

Dietrich, the bathtub story still brings my grandfather to life when I think about it. He was so gleeful telling the story.

Mary Lee, I have to admit my sister says our grandfather wasn't that nice. I had a special relationship with him, though, because he got up very early and so did it. When everyone else was sleeping in, we'd be sitting at the breakfast table, him sipping coffee, me reading.

Terry said...

Thanks for your kind words, Jim.

judyalter said...

Waiting anxiously for the next installment. Yours is one of my favorite series.

Susan C Shea said...

A wonderful back story for the series. You've talked a lot about hearing his voice and channeling him, and the excellence of Craddock is a true homage to your grandfather.

Terry said...

Judy, that really warms my heart. My agent now has #9 and I'm waiting to hear its fate.

Terry said...

Thank you, Susan. He's in my thoughts so often!

Kathy Reel said...

Samuel Craddock is such a great character, but you'll have to excuse me, Terry, for having ungrandfatherly thoughts about him. Hahaha! Can't wait until the next one.

Terry said...

Kathy, you and some of the women my grandfather took up with after my grandmother died. Remind me to tell you about Jody someday. A pistol-packing mama.