Friday, May 6, 2022

STORIES IN JOYCE'S BACKYARD: A "PICK-YOUR-OWN" GIVEAWAY!

 "This is the house that the Hinkle sisters lived in, and that's the muddy river where Thomas and Jackie fished together." Joyce Hostetter pointed out the car window as we drove around around her hometown, Hickory, NC--the setting for her Bakers Mountain Series. "See that old building? That's the hosiery factory where Junior worked for a few days. Over there is where the car mechanic lived who helped him fix his truck."



The Honeycutt family and their friends, who already had a special place in my heart from reading AIM, BLUE, COMFORT, DRIVE and EQUAL, became even more real as I saw the places where they lived, played, and worked--all within sight of Bakers Mountain. 

Bakers Mountain, photo courtesy Joyce Hostetter

How did Joyce end up writing a series of books that rose up out of what was once a rural community? It all began when Carolyn Yoder, senior editor at Calkins Creek, suggested that Joyce find the story in her own backyard. When Joyce began researching the history of Hickory, NC, she discovered the Miracle of Hickory at her local library.

Mural in downtown Hickory. Do you see Joyce?

She researched, read old papers, interviewed polio patients...and BLUE was born. Read some of Joyce's thoughts on the process of discovering her stories here

Part of Joyce's real backyard. Photo courtesy Joyce Hostetter

A few years after BLUE was published, I met Joyce in Birmingham, Alabama at a literacy conference. She was presenting on BLUE, I was presenting on Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8.  


We bonded over reading and writing. We co-presented several times and continue to publish a quarterly newsletter, Talking Story. We are critique partners and good friends. 

I felt Joyce's influence when I began brainstorming my own first novel. I rode my bike, walked, and drove through neighborhoods. What could have happened here? Half-Truths incubated. Ideas hatched. A novel slowly took shape. It changed. Got revised (many times!). Was reborn. 

What did Carolyn mean when she gave Joyce that assignment? Possibly she was not only talking about an actual backyard but was also encouraging Joyce to reach inside of her own experiences to find something she could relate to and authentically show in her writing.  

Let's face it. There might not be a compelling story about polio or pre-civil rights tension in your community, city, or state. Or, maybe you write science fiction or fantasy that's not even rooted in this continent or world--let alone in your neighborhood! How are you going to find that "backyard" story?

At the foot of Bakers Mountain and staring at Joyce's budding trees and the grass turning green I thought--my backyard is bigger than the crazy intersecting streets of Myers Park, NC. where my characters live. 

It's my whole life. 

It's writing what I know with a twist. 

It's taking my grief over losing someone I loved and embedding that in Kate, my protagonist's heart when she leaves home. It's realizing how making choices is not always very linear and conveying it on the page; it's understanding how gut-wrenching it is to feel betrayed--or be the betrayer. 


How about you? What have you used in your life--whether it's a place, person, event, or experiences--that has made it's way into your book? 

What is in your own backyard? 

Some backyards are under construction,
like mine is!

GIVEAWAY

For the first time on my blog, one fortunate blog reader will be able to pick which book in the Bakers Mountain Series they want to win! Leave me a comment by May 11 to enter this giveaway and tell me which book you are interested in. U.S. addresses only. Make sure you leave me your full name and email address if you are new to my blog.

Make sure you check out the other great books on Greg Pattridge's MMGM blog! 



32 comments:

Unknown said...

Definitely been eager to read DRIVE! BLUE and AIM were both wonderful.

(Monica Roe)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Monica. Your name starts the list!

Unknown said...

It was fun to read Joyce's books since I also live in Hickory. I was able to see inside the story as I read. I have gifted my grandchildren Joyce's books and proudly told them that I went to high school with her. Joyce is a gem to her community and also her friends. I hope someone gets the book that haven't read her books, they are a treasure! Scottie Blick

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for stopping by, Scottie. I'm sure it's been fun to read Joyce's stories--and to know her in high school!!

Gail Hurlburt said...

I would love to win BLUE. I gave my copy away and need another copy! Thanks for entering my name.

Gail Hurlburt

Carol Baldwin said...

You got it, Gail!

Terri DeGezelle Michels said...

Great interview. I love to learn more about the back story of how an idea was born. congratulations!

Storylady said...

Loved what you wrote in your blog today--it is such good advice. I would love to win Aim (or really any of the series). Thanks so much

Lisa Fowler said...

Thanks for this bit of “backstory.” It’s interesting how stories come about. I’m fortunate enough to have Aim, Blue, and Drive, so I wouldn’t mind the chance to almost complete my collection by this wonderful author and teacher, Joyce Hostetter.

Carol Baldwin said...

I put you down for EQUAL, Lisa!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Gwen. I'll put your name down for AIM. You will love all of these books!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Terri. Which book interests you?

Danielle H. said...

This is a thoughtful post and one I need to keep in mind as I brainstorm my next project. I would love to win a copy of Blue. Hopefully sooner than later, I will be traveling to North Carolina to explore. Thank you for the chance!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Danielle. Glad you liked the post!

Rosi said...

This is a wonderful post. Yes, I'm mining my family and have a finished manuscript to show for it. I have all the books except Drive, which I have read, so it's tempting to try for that, but I would rather the book go to someone who hasn't read all the books, so I will pass. Thanks for the post.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosi. I'm glad you've mined your own life and I look forward to hearing more about your book!

Kathy Cannon Wiechman said...

I have read the whole series, but I read AIM as an ebook and would love to have an actual hold-in-my-hands book. Great article about writing from our own backyard and hitting on the all-important write what you know. It's always key to put a piece of ourselves into our work.

Carol Baldwin said...

Good to hear from you, kathy. Will be glad to put your name in for AIM. Thanks for your thoughts!

Valinora Troy said...

I'd love to win any of the books but I'm outside the US! Very interesting to read about the inspiration for your own work!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for your comment, Valinora. I hope you get to read them--maybe on an ereader?

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Hey ya'll - thanks to everyone for your lovely comments! And good luck with the giveaway!

Emily Weitz said...

This is a great post and I really don't know too much about mining at all! Would love to win any of the books for my library, as I haven't read any of them!

Carol Baldwin said...

Please leave your name and email address to enter!

Emily Weitz said...

This is a great post and I really don't know too much about mining at all! Would love to win any of the books for my library, as I haven't read any of them!

Emily Weitz
eweitz@berenacademy.org

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Emily. So happy to hear from you and I'm adding your name right now. If you decide to follow my blog, just let me know. I'll put your name in twice! The books are WONDERFUL!

Greg Pattridge said...

I like how both of you met, becoming friends and working partners. So much of writing is pulling in what you know and have done in life. It wraps you emotionally to the words on the page. Some day I'd like to read this series but for now I'll let someone else win one of the books.

Esther M. Bandy said...

All of these books look wonderful, but I've only read the last one. I'd love to read the first one so I can start the series at the right place! Thank you so much for offering this giveaway!

Carol Baldwin said...

You'll love them all, Esther. I'lll put your name in for BLUE

Carol Baldwin said...

I hope you get to read them sometime, Greg. SO well written!

Patricia T. said...

What a great interview. I am most fascinated by how you met and collaborated. This sounds like a fascinating series.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Patricia. It's been a HUGE blessing!

Gail Cartee said...

I've read most of Joyce's series. She is truly an inspiration to write from our own "backyards". I'd love to try to take the old family stories from my childhood's front porches and turn them into historical fiction. Maybe one day.

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