For readers, one book closes while another one opens. I suppose this is true for authors as well. However, No Hill for a Stepper is not only my first published book, it is my father’s story. Aside from the story itself, it is a reminder of the two years spent beside him taking notes and recording his comments on a cheap Sony recorder. It is a reminder of the trip we took back to his roots both in conversation as well as physically to Rotan, Ranger, Roby, Sweetwater and Temple, Texas. Although Dad did not live long enough to see the published version, my sister gifted me with a fabulous present. She looked at me and said, “This is a present from Dad and I.”
“Dad,” I asked. “Our Dad?”
And there it was, my favorite photo of Dad sitting on the front porch at our homestead except this time, he was holding a copy of my book in his hand.
After the book was published, I began asking readers to send me pictures of themselves reading my father’s story. Not only did the photos make me feel proud, it made me think of how much my father enjoyed sharing his story with others.
So what’s next? An author’s pen is always close at hand. Meta, one of the central characters in my new book, was the first to introduce herself to me. Other characters have either snuck up behind me and tapped me gently on the shoulder or have introduced themselves quite spontaneously, yelling “here I am! Put ME in your new book.” Each time I sit down to write, I am eager to learn what they will do or say next. I have little control over these characters.
It is 1910. There is a farm girl who lives in a German community outside of Fredericksburg. There is a prostitute in a bordello in San Antonio, a thirteen-year-old newspaper boy with a rolled cigarette in his mouth and a wise great aunt. There is the madam of the bordello with her trusty assistant who is laced with spice and grit, and a young man with a deep scar across his face. There are strangers and connections. There is murder. There is innocence and guilt. There are lies and deceit. There is only one truth.
THAT is what is next.
But No Hill for a Stepper? It rests comfortably, open, in the center of my chest.