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  • Writer's pictureLeah Dawkins

A Love Letter to My Readers

Writing my first book, Home Cries the Soul, has been a love story of sorts. It didn’t start out that way. In fact, it was a way to put down into words all the voices and personalities I have in my head. And, until I read The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, I would have never put those words into a blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, do. It’s a game changer. Creating a world of your own making is challenging, but it is also extremely fun.

As I began cultivating my storyline and plot, I needed to add locations, people, and events. As I would begin thinking about my past, about growing up in a subdivision full of children, attentive adults, a church I loved, and schools where I felt safe and secure, I would recollect events and people. People who had a large impact on my life.

So, as I began naming characters and people, I decided to use names of people who I remembered fondly, simply as a way to honor my past and the people in it. It would go something like this. I would think of something I needed to name and think of a favorite memory that associated with this. This would be how I would choose. At one point I was pulling out high school yearbooks and elementary school pictures, not to mention people from my nursing career. It was such fun to think, who was my favorite teacher? Well, my home economics teacher, Mrs. Beauregard. Cool, we will honor her by naming the series after her. Who else? Well, there was Mary, my librarian from elementary school that encouraged me to read, perfect. I will use Mary.

And on and on it went, until at some point I realized I was writing a love letter to those people who had meant the most to me growing up. That in some way had impacted me. The characters themselves are nothing like the real people, they are simply place holders. The real people, remarkable men and women who helped sculpt my youth and define my adulthood could never be articulated on paper. But I hope you catch glimpses of them as you read. Not every character name is someone from my life, many of the names are just ones I find capture the true feeling of the south. Mother’s last names as children’s first names, nicknames, and turns of words I hear on the regular living in small town South Carolina. Bless your heart.

The same goes for locations and names of places. Venice, Italy is engrained in my mind as one of the most magical places I have ever had the opportunity to visit. Why not name the town in Mississippi after such a joyous memory. I am the author; I get to do what I want. And so, I create a landscape of things that I love. Tea Olive bushes are my all-time favorite smelling tiny white flower. Iron gates and gas lanterns are magical to me. Coffee shops abuzz with people, gossip, and caffeine are one of my happy places. And a bookstore! Is there anymore joyous a place than a bookstore?

The book cover photo is from my daughter’s wedding. When I think about an evening where there was light, love, joy, and family I always go back to that evening. We were fresh out of pandemic and no one had seen each other in close to two years. Being together to celebrate was the perfect kick-off to a new season for all of us. The world had changed, and so had we.

A love letter. My book is simply that and as I continue the series, I continue to use this as a way to connect myself to the characters on the page. To give voice to the thoughts in my head. To create. To honor. And to love.

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