Hey folks! Today I’m happy to introduce you to Sally Wright and her story Behind the Bonehouse!
~ * ~ BIO ~ * ~
Edgar Alan Poe Award Finalist Sally Wright has studied rare books, falconry, early explorers, painting restoration, WWII Tech-Teams, the Venona Code, and much more, to write her university-archivist-ex-WWII-Ranger books about Ben Reese, who’s based on a real person.
Breeding Ground, Wright’s most recent novel, is the first in her new Jo Grant mystery series, which has to do with the horse industry in Lexington, Kentucky. Wright is now finishing the second Jo Grant novel.
Sally and her husband have two children, three young grandchildren, and a highly entertaining boxer dog, and live in the country in northwestern Ohio.
~ * ~ STALK ~ * ~
~ * ~ TOPIC du JOUR ~ * ~
I asked Sally Wright, “How did you get your start in writing and what fuels you to continue?” and here is the response.
I think being read to a lot by my mother when I was little, and then by my grandfather as well, led me to write books. My much older brother read me Seutonius’ Lives Of The Twelve Caesars too when he was in high school and I was four or five, and I still remember the funny bits, and how being read to made me want to learn to read for myself.
My parents had started a ma and pa scientific business when I was four, and since they couldn’t leave me at home, I amused myself at the office. I started scribbling pathetic little westerns as soon as I knew how to write, and not long after that my mom handed me a touch typing chart and sat me down at her Royal portable, so I could learn something new.
We wrote plays in the fifth grade, and the teacher (who loved music, theater and literature) directed mine (“The Mystery of the White Buddha”), which owed much to Nancy Drew. By the time I hit high school I’d stumbled on Appalachian music, only to become awestruck by Bob Dylan’s writing, which led me to write songs myself and perform them for fun (and very little profit) over the next few years. The discipline of shoehorning music and images in a rhyme scheme helped me write the kind of novels I wanted to write later. And I did know I had to write something larger – whole worlds where characters get buffeted over time.
Still, I didn’t have anything to say then. And it wasn’t till later, when our kids were little, that I started my first novel.
Robert Giroux, the New York editor I most admired, took time to read the manuscript and write me what I needed to hear – that he could see I was a writer, with an eye and a voice of my own, but that publishers have to make a living, and the market for novels that are first-person blank-verse monologues is nothing if not small. I’d have to learn to write what I care about so it fits an actual market.
He was right, of course. And kinder than I deserved. And when I finally realized I could talk about everything I find compelling perfectly well in a mystery novel, I called a college archivist I’d met in ’73.
I’d had to press him hard when we’d first talked to get him to tell me what he’d done in WWII, and once he did, I’d smiled and said, “If I ever write a mystery novel, you’re the character for me.”
It was early in the ’90s when he got my call and agreed to be interviewed, even though he’d rarely talked about being a Scout for Army Intelligence with anyone but his wife.
I wrote six Ben Reese archivist/Ranger early ’60s novels (the third of which, Pursuit and Persuasion, became an Edgar Finalist). He worked with me on all of them – teaching me about ancient documents and rare coins, Renaissance tapestries and painting restoration, and a whole lot more he knew and I didn’t – while telling me more than he’d told his wife about his war in Europe. “Libby has to watch when I have the dreams. She doesn’t need to know more.”
When he read Watches of the Night, the only Ben Reese with direct scenes in WWII, the real archivist/Ranger said, “It’s given me closure on the war.” Which means it would’ve been worth every bit of the work if not one word of all six books had ever been published.
Breeding Ground, and the new Behind The Bonehouse, have backstories from WWII, but take place in three family businesses in the horse industry in Lexington, Kentucky in the mid-1960s. Jo Grant is an architect, who also runs a broodmare care farm with her Uncle, Toss. She tells what happened from thirty years later, using her journals as well. They’re stories based on the struggles families face in sustaining a family business (which have driven most of my own life), along with my love of horses. I can’t ride anymore, and interviewing all kinds of horse people, while staying on farms with friends around Lexington, remembering the horses I’ve loved most, makes me want to get up in the morning, even when my endless rewriting is tedious in the extreme.
~ * ~ BLURB ~ * ~
It wasn’t until thirty years after the attacks, and the lies, and the intricately orchestrated death, that Jo Grant Munro could bring herself to describe it all in Behind The Bonehouse. Her work as an architect, and the broodmare farm she ran with her uncle, and her husband Alan’s entire future – all hung by a thread in 1964 in the complex Thoroughbred culture of bluegrass Kentucky, where rumor and gossip and the nightly news can destroy a person overnight, just like anywhere else. It was hatred in a self-obsessed soul, fermenting in an equine lab, boiling over and burning what it touched, that drove Jo and Alan to the edge of desperation while they fought through what they faced.
~ * ~ EXCERPT ~ * ~
When I was lying in the hospital three months or so ago, after the boys and their children had gone home, Alan came back and kissed my forehead, and said, “It’s time you wrote it down.” He handed me a spiral notebook. Which I set on the bedside table without saying a word.
I didn’t have to ask what he meant. Even after I’d finished writing Breeding Ground, when I wanted to tell a whole lot more of what we’ve watched here in horse country, this memory wasn’t one I could touch. And what you won’t look at festers, especially since I’d been putting off lancing it for a good many years with conscious intent.
Once I got home, and got stronger again, I got busy with every other part of my life. Till one night I dreamt about the river, and woke up sick and sweating, and it came to me, the way it always has, when I’ve made a decision in my subconscious mind, that the time had come to get it done.
It started thirty-two years ago, months before the wounding in the river, when the Woodford County Sheriff Alan and I saw as a friend stood right here on the family farm saying words that tore our lives asunder without looking us in the eye.
It’d grown out of something we’ve all had happen—lies getting told about you by someone with implacable intent. Malicious intent, in this case, because it was no misunderstanding. It was someone setting out to twist the truth toward his own perverse purpose. It was his word and deeds against ours, which has always been part of living in this world, and will be till the last of us gets over being human.
I’d just turned thirty-four when it happened, and I didn’t have the experience then to put it in perspective. I need to try now, while I still can, because the disease that’s started eating into me makes delay a kind of denial.
~ * ~ BUY ~ * ~
~ * ~ GIVEAWAY ~ * ~
Sally Wright will be awarding copies of several of Sally Wright’s books to a randomly drawn U.S. (only) winner via rafflecopter during the tour. CLICK HERE to enter to Win! Readers, follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates and places can be found here: Tour Schedule
~ * ~
Sally Wright, thank you for stopping by today!
Love & blessings to all! ❤