|Farwell, Texas by Shona Cole 1992|
Images can inspire words. I have always first been a visual person. I can only learn something if I look at it. I can only do Math problems if I draw them out. And I have found I can only write if I have images to give me that certain feeling (well, and music too, but that is for another post).
The first half of my novel is set in a land that looks like West Texas. In my real life at Christmas, 1992 I visited America for the first time. I had met a man in college in Ireland the year before. We knew each other for only 6 weeks before he returned to the States, but it was enough to change my whole world. He was different from every other man I had met. He was self contained, confident, independent and deeply passionate. We wrote letters when he left, but I never thought I would see him again. I was an Irish college student with no intention of ever leaving Ireland. I had never even been on the European continent let alone the Americas!
In spring and summer, 1992, he was in Germany and later Liechtenstein working for Hilti. He called me out of the blue and invited me to visit him while he was in Germany. My parents said I shouldn't go, we hardly know him and he is a right-wing conservative therefore he could be a crazy maniac! I went anyhow. He met me at the Cologne airport and I was nervous. He was as beautiful and interesting as I remembered but what if my parents were right? What on earth was I doing there? What if the relationship wasn't as romantic as I remembered and I was stuck there for 2 weeks with a total stranger? But, as we stood at that bleak bus stop he touched my hair and I knew it was all good.
We traveled back and forth between Liechtenstein and Ireland that summer and at Christmas when he had returned again to the US he invited me over for a few weeks.
|Mark's 1980 Chevy Camaro|
I flew to Dallas and he picked my up in his red Camaro and drove me west to his hometown in Farwell, Texas. I was devastated. It was flat and empty and I thought the place looked like the moon! I had at that point entertained the idea that we could one day marry, but I could not picture myself living in such a rough, flat, brown place! I am from Ireland, I love green and hills!
I took many photos when I was there and journaled and wrote poems and tried to sketch things to make myself love the place. I painted the painting above when I returned home to Ireland from a photo I took at the end of Mark's Mom's street. I saw it as bleak then. I see it as beautiful and romantic now. In reality, of course, it is both.
We did get married, we did move to Texas, not to the Panhandle, but to Houston. It took me years to love Texas. I can honestly say that now I love Texas. I love the man from Texas that I married. I love my husband. I love our life here on 5 acres north of Houston. Houston is green. We have trees (just no hills). We travel every summer to Ireland so I get my fill of beautiful.
My novel is set in Texas. Gala travels there on foot across a ruined land. The year is 2053, America is fractured and Texas has joined with two other states to form the Tristate. It is a place of hope and security in a crumbling world. Yep, my personal biases are stamped all over my novel. Let's call a spade a spade. But I am writing for people like me. Conservative, freedom-cherishing Americans who love the good guys to win!