from Measuring Time: “Frost”

I’m in the process of reviewing the final proof for the forthcoming Measuring Time & Other Stories (Wiseblood Books), and it is August in Texas, which means a surplus of sun and heat. A friend visiting his family back in Finland texted me today that it was 66 degrees. That sounds lovely. I’m a little jealous.

Of the 12 stories in the book, two are set in winter, that most difficult time on the Plains. I wrote the initial draft of “Frost” during my first December in Texas. There had already been snow in Ohio (where we had lived previously) and in Minnesota and South Dakota. In some strange way, I missed that familiar whiteness. It didn’t make sense to my brain to experience mid-December in the 50s and 60s and with no snow anywhere.

This story takes place in the fictional town of Hamilton, South Dakota, where a few other stories in the collection are set. The main character is a woman in her early thirties who is desiring a kind of change in her job, feeling a pull to pursue a baking business (hence the reason for the post’s image).

For this story, I drew on some details from my own home: my wife enjoys baking, and over the years, she has increased her skills and widened her styles of cakes and cupcakes. Let me clarify, however, that the main character is not my wife. There’s a common assumption that fiction writers take people from “real life” and smuggle them into their stories. I cannot speak for other writers, but I’ll offer some brief thoughts.

My characters are not real people, but I might draw upon some details or details from a real person, and then let my imagination take over. I might hear a line of dialogue from someone in real life and then put that line in the mouth of a made-up person. Even though my fiction is “realistic” (in the sense that there is nothing fantastical in my fiction), much of each story is made up. In my post next week, I’ll talk more about fiction vs. real-life in my story “The Rez Fairy.”


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