I think most writers probably leave little “Easter Eggs” in their novels for readers. Sometimes those Easter Eggs are generic enough that anyone will find them, and other times they are intended for certain audiences. In The Edge of Nowhere, there are a ton of Easter Eggs. Some of these are a silent nod to important people in my life, and others are to the places and things that are important to me. Over the next several days or longer, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to sharing them with you.
The Characters in The Edge of Nowhere:
A Silent Nod to the Important People in My Life
Dr. Heusman is a main character in The Edge of Nowhere. Like Doc Baker from Little House in the Prairie, Dr. Heusman is always the go-to guy when people have a problem. He’s the first person Victoria’s mother calls for when she has difficulty in child birth, and many many chapters later, he’s the first person Victoria turns to when her son has been bitten by a rabid animal. He’s presumably the best educated of the many characters presented, and so he’s somewhat of an authority figure to his patients.
When I was writing The Edge of Nowhere, my dear friends Theron and Elena Heusman were two of my strongest supporters. I remember a conversation with Theron one day when we were talking about books. The conversation went a little something like this:
“Make me a character in your book,” he said.
“What would you like to be?”
Theron didn’t hesitate even a second before responding, “I want to be a doctor — if you can swing it. An authority figure that people turn to.”
I laughed because the comment was completely Theron. But the idea had taken root. I needed a doctor as a supporting character and didn’t really have a name for him. So the Good Dr. Heusman was named in honor of my dear friends Theron and Elena Heusman.
Recently a discussion regarding name pronunciation took place on Facebook, and people were asking how to pronounce Dr. Heusman’s name. It’s easy: it sounds like “Hughs-man” or “Hews-mun.”
The character of Jeannie Herrick only gets a passing comment, but the name is no mistake. In fact, the name is a deliberate nod to my husband’s grandmother, Jean Herrick.
Gram, as I came to call her after I married her grandson, was maybe one of the most important women in my early adulthood. She was a professor in the Classics Department at my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, where she taught Latin Reading and Roman Women. She was an amazing woman who was loved by all who knew her, and who is still remembered fondly today by those in the OU Classic’s Department who knew her.
When she passed away, my mother-in-law found in her wallet a tiny strip of paper — a quote she’d picked up somewhere and (presumably) carried with her at all times. It read:
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” ~ Stephen Grellet
This quote defined Jean Herrick and, since her passing, it has been a quote that I’ve taken to my own heart in an effort to “carry the torch” in her absence.
When I began dating her grandson in early 1990, Jean Herrick took me in as family and treated me as her own granddaughter. She had decided that I was her granddaughter, and she became my grandmother in every sense of the word. She even “checked up on me” in some of my classes at OU by checking in with a few of my professors who were her friends. Oh the embarrassment! But the truth is that I loved that she loved me enough to care, and I simply adored her.
In 2001, Gram became very ill from complications with COPD. My husband, daughter and I rushed back to Oklahoma to say our goodbyes and, while there, Gram forced a promise from me. I would’ve given that woman anything, so it was without a second thought that I gave her the promise that I would someday write a book. It didn’t matter that my writing was centered on the occasional newspaper or magazine article; or that most of my writing at the time was purely for the benefit of non-profit organizations. I had received my degree in Journalism and, in her mind, that meant I was a writer; and writers must write books. For my part, if that woman wanted me to write a book, then by goodness I’d write a book. Of course, giving that promise meant that I’d spend the next 15 years finding a way to make good on it. At the time, I honestly didn’t even know where to begin.
The character of George Holly is a slimy weasel of a bully who appears first in Victoria’s childhood, then again later as an adult. The name “Holly” is a direct nod to my best friend since high school, Holly Hammert-Glenn. No, she’s not a bully. The truth is that I wanted to mention Holly in some way, and remembered that her name had been used as both a first and last name over time. “Holly” didn’t seem “right” for a first name for this period, so it got tacked on to the character as a last name in a silent nod to my friend. I don’t have a good answer as to why I gave her the name of a notorious bully, though. If you know Holly, you know that she’s one of the kindest and most generous of women. She’d give you her last meal or the shirt off of her back, so one shouldn’t identify any of the character’s personality traits to my friend. I love her dearly, and am so blessed to call her my friend.
Julianne (Kirk) Sykes
The last one I’ll give you for today relates to the character of Julianne (Kirk) Sykes, the adopted sister to Victoria. Though not the same name exactly, the name for Julianne was a nod to my sister, Julianna (Hedrick) Brodeur. Julie, as we called my sister, passed away from breast cancer two months before I began the writing of this novel. At eighteen years older than myself — and out of the home and a thousand miles away for most of my childhood — Julie and I were not as close as I think either of us would’ve liked. We were sisters and interacted as sisters when together, but the combined distance and age gap limited our ability to interact in the way of true sisters. In many ways, Victoria’s relationship with Julianne is much the same as I’d always hoped my sister’s and mine would’ve been if the miles hadn’t separated us.
There are many, many more “Easter Eggs” held within the pages of The Edge of Nowhere, and I’ll spend the next several days (or however long it takes) to reveal those to you. In the meantime, feel free to ask me questions by leaving a comment below. Do you have a specific question about any part of the novel, its characters, or even the landmarks? Ask me a question and I’ll try to address it in an upcoming post.
For more information on this novel, take a moment to read the synopsis and/or view the video trailer. You can do that by following THIS LINK.
The Edge of Nowhere is now available in e-book and paperback formats, and will soon be available as an audiobook. To purchase a copy of this novel, select your favorite retailer from the list below. And Enjoy!