McMINNVILLE—I have to admit some trepidation in coming to Oregon for a book signing for Morkan’s Quarry. The Ozarks in the Civil War has long been ignored. And civilian experience in the Ozarks during the war even more so. So now let’s carry Morkan’s Quarry to a place where readers are really far removed from that old catastrophe. Add to this that what I am selling is a novel and not a history book, and wow! Obstacles!
But I think all will go well Friday night. Tuesday evening we arrived home from an afternoon in downtown McMinnville, and my brother-in-law’s neighbor hales us. After confirming that he had the details for Friday night just right, he says, Steve, man, I’ve got to tell you. The part about the two-foot long rats in the prison, it’s still creeping me out.
Well, they had them, I said jokingly. I was thrilled he had already read to the part when Michael Morkan is suffering in the Myrtle Street prison in St. Louis. And that he remembered it to me.
I’m sure they did, he says, but Saturday night I killed a shrew in the garage eating our dog food. Two feet long, and now I can’t stop thinking about what that thing would be like jumping in the middle of your chest!
To my amazement, I did it! A reader who can’t forget a detail and has externalized it! When we see something in the waking world and it sets us back into that seamless dream of fiction, and the two worlds—by irrepressible gesture, scene, or detail—become one, that’s when you know you have succeeded with your reader. See you Friday, McMinnville.