An accidental novel, The Proprietor’s Song was originally supposed to be a short story. Prior to writing it, I’d written only poetry and short stories. But soon enough I was out of short story territory and into no man’s land. Though my inclination was to shut down shop, fortunately I didn’t, deciding to just let my fingers fly. After all, as a long-time writing instructor, it’s what I’ve always urged my City College of San Francisco students to do. So, for a change, I took my own advice.
In some ways I’m an accidental writer too. Though always an avid reader, I’d no desire to become a writer. As a teenager and young adult, I trained to be a dancer and danced professionally. Though I kept up my reading, the writer’s life of sitting and staying still wasn’t for me until an injury sent me into early retirement, and I decided, well, to sit for a while. My sitting started at the University of Pittsburgh, or Pitt as everyone affectionally called it, where I got my B.A. in English.
After graduating from Pitt, I gravitated westward on an invite from a boyfriend who’d moved back to his native San Francisco. After that relationship ended, I’d stayed, smitten by California, getting my M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Mills College. Then a different boyfriend, now my husband, introduced me to California’s spectacular mountains and deserts, the backdrop to The Proprietor’s Song, and part inspiration for the novel.
The other inspiration was the sudden death of my kid sister. I started my then short story with landscape description, how I usually start, with little idea of who’d populate the pages. But then I realized the landscape was only a part of the novel, the means to the core issue–the bewilderment and misery that comes with the sudden death or disappearance of a loved one. Initially, I didn’t relish writing about this, but as I progressed through the novel I found myself hopeful that I could finish writing the novel and that the main characters the Fishers and Stanley Uribe might survive their ordeal, maybe even thrive. And, of course, I also hoped anyone reading the novel, especially those struggling with loss, might find the novel good company.