The copyedits are almost finished on my Blue sequel. While accepting (and occasionally rejecting) my copyeditor's changes, I ran across this paragraph.
In a way I hoped Daddy would go stay with Mamaw and Papaw Honeycutt. Because I knew what it was like down there. I figured if there was any place in the world that could make a sad person feel better, it was the state of Georgia.
In the sequel, Ann Fay travels to Georgia. In fact she even stays for awhile. After all, her grandparents live there. And there's a place called the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, and another known as The Little White House, and a spot in the road called Magic Hill. But mostly there is a softness in the air, a little romance, and a welcome from the people that makes Georgia so peachy keen.
I love that Jimmy Carter is from Georgia. And I love that, after his presidency, he went back to Plains and did powerful things such as write books and get involved with a great organization that changes peoples lives. I especially love that he works for peace around the world.
Assuming that Ann Fay lived to a ripe old age she was a Jimmy Carter fan because she knows first hand the after-effects of war. Here's a glimpse into how war changed things at her house.
“My daddy can’t run the tiller,” I said.
“Is it broke?”
“The sound of it scares him. He did two and a half rows and just quit. You should’ve seen how he was shaking.”
Junior hung his hat on a hook inside the living room door. And his car key beside the hat. Bessie went in the kitchen to get him some cake and milk.
He balanced the dish with the cake on his knee. He ate it without talking to me. He knew good and well I wanted him to come and till that garden for my daddy. But I could see he was going to make me beg. So I did.
“I’m asking you to till the garden for him, Junior. He wants to do right by his family. But loud noises bother him. And you know how loud that tiller is.”
“Your daddy run me off his property and I don’t suppose he’s going to let me come back two days later, now is he?”
“He won’t be home for another hour and a half. You’ve got time before he gets there.”
I knew Junior wanted to turn me down, but of course he couldn’t. And his momma was right there to make sure he didn’t. “Don’t argue. Just go,” she said. “Leroy needs you and you’ll kick yourself later if you don’t help out.”
Junior looked like he wanted to kick something right that minute. He ate one last big bite of cake and drank the rest of the milk. Then he stood and his mother took his dishes from him and carried them into the kitchen.
“Let’s go,” he said.
Lots of people ask me about Junior Bledsoe's involvement in the sequel. Yes he's in the book. And like everything else in Ann Fay's life, their relationship gets complicated. But that's all I'm saying on that subject!
Mostly I am saying that Comfort struggles with the subject of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (back then it was known as War Neurosis) At the time of the Civil War it was called Soldier's Heart. I could totally grab that phrase and use it for my book but uh, well the amazing Gary Paulsen has already done it!
In the wake of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I did not have to go further than my radio to hear stories of post war trauma. In some ways, research has never been easier.
Unless you count the emotional toll. There is nothing light and easy about postwar trauma. Maybe that's why the sequel to Blue is called Comfort.