5. Gammage’s Drug Store was a real store in Greenville, Alabama. My mother always told me about growing up going to Gammage’s, so I named a Pine Creek store after it. It’s at the same intersection as Langley’s Five and Dime, which is named after my childhood best friend and her family.
The depot hadn’t changed. It was the same brick building set up on the hill at the intersection where Bolling Street ended at Main. Mr. Langley’s Five and Dime sat across the street on the southeast corner, and Gammage’s Drug Store was on the north side of the intersection. If the day was clear, she could have stood at the very end of the platform and spied the Cahawba County courthouse, a speck in the distance to the east.
6. Ritchie looks like a baby Mark Hamill. I struggled writing Ritchie until the last six months, when suddenly, he started to blossom on the page. I think this was partially because Ritchie is an observer, and so many of his early chapters have him looking out more than looking in. I also think his personality started to shine as I learned more about ASL and deaf culture. After watching Through Deaf Eyes, Ritchie’s experiences started to make more sense to me and seem more real. It’s helped me develop him more fully, and realize he even has a bit of a sarcastic streak. I also think figuring out that he looks like a young Mark Hamill helped a lot. When I saw this photo, I immediately knew it was what Ritchie looked like.
7. Cal and Ada Claire’s son Junior joins the Army and ends up training Vietnam scout dogs. While there were reportedly around 3000 scout dogs in the Vietnam war, only about 200 dogs left the war. The rest were euthanized or turned over to the South Vietnamese Army.
8. I cry when I write emotional scenes. I also sometimes talk to myself, or find myself gesticulating like the character might. I’ve caught myself raising my eyebrows, moving my shoulders and physically leaning forward or back in my chair, moving my hands (which doesn’t happen as much since I’m usually typing,) and even crying if the scene is particularly moving. So if you read this book someday, know that yesterday, I was crying writing Ritchie and Selma talking in the diner in 1958.