Pull up a chair and sit a spell. Now for the first question:
What inspired you to write Annabelle’s Ruth? Where did this idea come from?
Betty: I’ve always loved the Book of Ruth. I’ve read it many times, seen several of the movies. A couple of years ago, I’d just read through the book again and I wondered, what if I wrote a story similar to Ruth’s, but set in more modern times? Say, the 1950’s, and what if…
That’s really how it began. Then I had the idea to blend in elements of my mother’s early life, a story I’d heard throughout my childhood, but more often now, as she ages. Mom was 17 when she met my dad, a sailor temporarily stationed in the Puget Sound. He was 19—they were both just kids! They eloped, and Mom ended up with his family in West Tennessee, far away from her home in Seattle. Far away in many ways. A step back in time, a different culture. You can read more of the story here in a blogpost I wrote.
That was the beginning. The characters I developed were loosely based on people I’d met near the location of the book, both friends and family. And it’s mostly written in southern—one of my favorite languages.
My favorite language also. Please tell us…
What was the inspiration for Connie’s character?
Betty: Well, first of all, Ruth. She’s actually a combination of the Ruth character in the Bible, and a couple of real people in my life. I named my character Connie, short for “Constance,” because of her determination to stick with Annabelle. My first inspiration came from my mother, who made a similar long bus trek in the early fifties to marry my dad. Like Connie, she suffered culture shock, since life was quite different among my dad’s family.
The other inspiration came from a cousin, who happened to inherit a dark complexion from her father’s side of the family. She had thick, curly, black hair and dark brown eyes. She tanned especially well after a hot West Tennessee summer. So the kids at school teased her and called her an unkind name. She went home in tears. I’d heard that story many times. Why did I choose to bring this element into the story? Because prejudice is a fact of life for so many.
It is and we’ve seen too much of that in the news lately.
That brings up a question. Why the element of prejudice? Isn’t it cliché, when writing about the American South?
Betty: It can be cliché. But it’s not just stereotypical of the South. Unfortunately, it’s typical of the world. I chose to include prejudice and exclusion, so I could show love and inclusion.
Great answer. The next question comes from my Bassett Hound, Max. 🙂
I love the character of the dog in the book. Is he based on a pet you owned at one time?
Betty: Hi Max! I love dogs, especially a loyal pet like Samson. He dropped on the scene as I began writing Alton’s character. I guess Alton needed a good dog. I’ve always loved hounds. They are so reminiscent of my visits to my grandmother’s house. Lying in bed at night, I’d hear the coon hounds baying. I’m fond of beagles, but the “Blue Tick” coon hound’s coloring always drew my eye.
So what’s next for you, what are you working on now?
Betty: Right now, I’m marketing this one and also another collaborative novel, Unlikely Merger, for Write Integrity Press. I’m finishing up the second book in the Legacy Series for Write Integrity Press, Carlotta’s Legacy. Then I plan to write the second book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I can’t wait to see what comes next for Annabelle, her neighbors, and family. I intend to visit the real-life Trenton this summer and do some additional research. You can check my Pinterest page for Annabelle’s Ruth to see pictures from the actual town. I’ll be updating that after my visit.
I can’t wait for the next book. Thanks so much for dropping by!
“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.”
After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.
Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee. How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?
Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the online magazine, Imaginate.
Annabelle’s Ruth is the first novel in the Kinsman Redeemer Series for Write Integrity Press. Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (also Write Integrity Press). She writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels,The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.