Last Wednesday, Nan Beams from Poisoned Pen Press, Don and I drove up to Sedona, AZ, where I spoke before an exceptionally well tricked out group of 150 women who belong to a group called the Sedona Welcomers. It hasn’t rained in the Phoenix area, where I live, in more than three months, so I hate to be ungrateful, but of course it rained that one day, as we drove through the mountains and while were were in Sedona. This was sad, since Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on the green earth, and we would have enjoyed a pretty day to see it. I guess the rain gods thought we needed the moisture more than we needed to see sunshine on the red rocks.
All of that notwithstanding, speaking about The Old Buzzard Had It Coming and explaining that many of the characters and incidents in the book are based on reality, made me think about the tale of Bobby Tucker. In the books, Bobby Tucker is Alafair’s little son, who died tragically in an incident that still haunts Alafair years later. On this web site is a page called “Truth or Fiction”, in which I explain some of what is real and what is made up. I haven’t until now explained where I got the character of Bobby.
The real “Bobby” was my husband Don’s sister, Lorena Fay. In about 1938, during the depression, Don’s parents and siblings were living in Montrose, Colorado, where his father had gone for work. Lorena Fay, known to her family as Honey, was the youngest of the children at the time, just a toddler. The place in which the parents lived was heated by a pot bellied stove, which is started with coal oil (like kerosene). The starter was kept in a jar behind the stove, and the baby somehow managed to get back there, pick up the jar and drink from it. Her mother picked her up in a panic and ran toward town in her bare feet with the baby in her arms, trying to reach the doctor, but she didn’t make it in time, and Honey died. Her mother never quite got over it.
I included this story in Buzzard because it was so heart-wrenchingly real, and not particularly unusual for the time. Since the book came out, I’ve heard of similar incidents in several other families. Babies’ lives were pretty precarious until quite recently.
I’m going to add Bobby’s story to the “Truth or Fiction” page, where I have explanations of the characters of Phoebe and Alice, Shaw and Alafair. Before Hornswoggled comes out in the fall, I’ll add more insights into the people and incidents that I’ve used to create Alafair’s world.