A few weeks ago, I was visiting my parents in my hometown of Jasper, Alabama, and my dad gave me a little tour of the cemetery at New Hope Primitive Baptist Church where four generations of my ancestors are buried. There's my grandfather, James Everett, who was a Baptist preacher and coal miner, and my grandmother, Ruth "Mama Ruth" Aaron. There's my great grandfather, Sammie Aaron, who died in 1924 from rabies after being bitten by his own dog. There's my great great grandfather, Ira Aaron, who around 1900 served six months in jail for stabbing a man to death over some sheep. Sammie, who was a teenager at the time, was also charged in the crime, since it was his knife that was used, but those charges were later dropped. The oldest Aaron grave at the New Hope cemetery is that of my great great great grandparents, Sam and Jane, who were both born in 1830. Can't help but wonder what these various Aarons, miners and farmers and murderers alike, would've thought of something like SCALPED? Probably not all of them would want to claim me as kin after reading it, but nevertheless, I'm proud of my heritage, and I'm proud of being a Southerner. Eventhough I’ll likely spend the rest of my life in Kansas City, I imagine I’ll always think of myself as a Southerner at heart. And I’m quite certain that my Alabama upbringing will continue to have a profound effect on my writing. I would seriously like nothing better than to someday be remembered as a Southern writer. There’s a pretty good tradition of those, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Happy Fourth of July.