Hi Seeker villagers! Carrie here, and I am delighted to host my dear friend Pepper Basham today! Her new book, The Red Ribbon, released October 1st as part of Barbour's True Colors historical true crime fiction series! Take it away Pepper, my Pepper!
Corn Shuckins, Bootleggin’, and Gun Slingin’, oh My!
(Or… What Writing My First Romantic Suspense Taught Me)
by Pepper Basham
On a little knoll overlooking the green rolling hills of Fancy Gap, Virginia, stands an old, white Queen Anne style house quite out of place among the country businesses and small houses scattered nearby. It had always been such a curious sight as I traveled from my house “below the mountain” to high school “above the mountain” in Carroll County, Virginia, where I grew up. The Sidna Allen House—a place which carried rumors of a courthouse shootout, nationwide manhunt, and a massive feud, and it all started with a kiss.
As a teenager driving the winding roads of the Appalachian Mountains, I don’t think I ever imagined delving into the true story of this scar on Virginia history. It’s not a happy story. It’s a true crime.
And as I began my research, many times, there appeared to be no REAL heroes. So when I took the opportunity to bring this unknown tragedy to light through fiction, I struggled with several things.
1. How do I walk the fine line between truth and respecting the generations of families who still live in my hometown with the lingering effects of this story?
2. How do I write a story about something that still rings with unanswered questions today?
3. But most importantly, how can I bring grace into this tragic tale so that the readers will see the hope of Christ in the middle of tragedy?
I’m not a suspense writer, guys. I’m a ROMANCE writer. I write KISSING BOOKS. What on earth was I doing writing a TRUE CRIME fiction?
Well this tragedy starts with a kiss so that helped 😊
Plus, I added a few extra kisses to sweeten the deal.
But this story was dark. Sad. It peeled back the culture I love and shone light on its underbelly. Most of my family STILL live in Carroll County, so the way I handled this story mattered.
Here are a few things I learned.
1. Writing suspense is painful 😊 Seriously, I was sore from my jaws down after I finished this story. I like a little suspense here and there, but I’m not sure my body’s made for writing it on a regular basis. If you write suspense, do you have to see a chiropractor weekly or monthly? LOL
2. Praise God for fictional characters! When I began working through the history of this story, my fictional hero, heroine, and a few secondary characters helped me weave hope, truth, and…romance into the darker creases of the true crime. Real people are fascinating, but sometimes, we just need to bring in a few make-believe people to round out the hardened edge of fact.
3. Pain is pain, no matter the era, but kindness is universal too. Tragedy is no respecter of persons. Some pain we bring on ourselves and some happens to us because we live in a broken world. Life is HARD ya’ll! Writing this story just reminded me that pain has been around a long time, so has unforgiveness. What we all need is a lot more compassion, shorter fuses, quicker forgiveness, and quieter tongues. We also need a clearer perspective. Everyone has a backstory, and most of the time we don’t know the deeper hurts people carry which then influences their behavior. Compassion and kindness are universally beautiful and have the power to soften those hardened edges of tragedy and provide healing.
4. We ALL need hope. Where would we be without it? At first, it was hard to find hope in the research of The Red Ribbon. The true events behind this story don’t have a happily-ever-after for many of the nonfiction characters, but as Christians we live in a dark world with the light of Christ’s hope shining into every shadow. It’s how we should think and breathe. And how much more light is needed when the story is so dark? That’s why, as Christians who write fiction, I think it’s important for us to keep that perspective. Our faith doesn’t have to preach on each page. It can be whispered throughout the story in the character’s actions, responses, and in the scenes, but of all things, our stories should carry the fragrance of hope within them. After all, we’re the storytellers of the God of Hope.
If Christ used story to bring truth and hope, it seems pretty natural for his kids to incorporate the same things into their stories. Don’t you think?
What books have you read lately that helped bring hope to your world?
About Pepper Basham & The Red Ribbon
An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912
Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.
As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family. You can learn more about her on her website, www.PepperDBasham.com or connect on Facebook or Twitter.
Carrie is giving away a print copy of The Red Ribbon to one commenter! Can be international shipping as long as Book Depository ships to your country.
What books have you read lately that
helped bring hope to your world?