This is especially for Mr. Hughes’s classes because they’re reading PICTURES OF HOLLIS WOODS and sent me happy messages. I hope they’re reading the book slowly, because it took me more than a year to write it!
I want to tell you how I got to the “pictures.” I didn’t think of doing the book that way until I was almost finished writing. Instead Hollis just thought about the Regans in flashbacks.
All that thinking, all those flashbacks, made the story as heavy as the pancakes I cook.
I wasn’t happy with the whole thing.
But one morning I was thinking about my dad. He painted beautifully. In an instant, I thought about doing Hollis’s memories as pictures.
I didn’t stop for breakfast; I was still in my robe. I printed it all out…threw every chapter on the floor separately…and grabbed a red pencil. I circled every one of the memories…tossed them out of the chapters…and into “pictures” of their own.
And then it was lunchtime. I ate double; I ate triple; I had solved the problem…and I was on to the next.
That’s the way a book works for me. Don’t think I begin at chapter one and sail right through. I go back and forth, adding a chapter here, a chapter there, typing up pieces, reading them (spilling tea on them) and beginning again.
I want to tell you how thrilled I am that you’re reading my book. After all, why do I write? It’s to share my life with you. Don’t think books are totally fiction. The author hides in them, happy to tell the reader about her mother…Josie Cahill was mine; happy to tell about a house upstate New York…that was mine, too; happy to write about a family like the Regans. Can’t you guess it’s like my family?