Here are my TOP TEN REASONS for writing The Clouds Roll Away.
Reasons #5 – #1: Ready?
Reason #5 – Richmond, Virginia. I love this southern town so much that I dedicated The Clouds Roll Away to it. Go see America’s unique historic gem.
Reason #4 – Homesickness. In the previous book, The Rivers Run Dry, Raleigh’s transferred to Seattle, nicking her heart with longing. Now, returning to Richmond, she gazes out at her hometown and realizes: “For all its troubled history and racial strife, this place was home. And few things ever feel as good as coming back to where you belong, and realizing the place waited for you.”
Reason #3 – Christmas. World’s best holiday. Period. Gifts, food, joy, song—who hates Christmas, except stingy curmudgeons? And the holiday can even change them, as Dickens proved. While I enjoyed writing all Christmas scenes in The Clouds Roll Away, one gutted me: the scene where Raleigh watches the Charlie Brown television special surrounded by crack addicts. It wrecked me for days. “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Reason #2 – Romance. Yep, Raleigh’s in love. Only she doesn’t know it, and this predicament might be one reason why The Clouds Roll Away was named among Booklist’s Top Ten Romances of that year. Reluctant romance, it makes great reading.
And all of those reasons bring me to Reason #1 for writing this mystery:
Readers know Raleigh Harmon is strong.
Capable, smart, funny.
And desperately in need of love.
Of course, the whole world desperately needs love, and while writing this book, the words of Christina Rossetti were on my mind. In particular, her Christmas poem, “Love Came Down.” I’m certain that poem informed influenced many scenes of this book.
So, while I’ve closed each of these Top Ten posts with a quote from The Clouds Roll Away, is there really any conceivable comparison between me and Rosetti?
That’s a rhetorical question.
Here’s the full poem. And frankly, I don’t care if it’s March right now.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
— Christina Rossetti