Well, you sweet readers, you, I've decided to spill a little. Here, then, are the Top Eleven Real Life Secrets Behind The Patience Trilogy!
11. Ashley Nicole Asher's name came from an inauspicious beginning: I was pregnant with my second child and we were considering naming her "Ashley Nicole." A family member heard it and blurted out, "Hey! You could call her Ash-Hole!" Now, y'all don't go callin' anyone with the name Ashley Nicole "Ash-Hole," mmkay? You'll see that nickname in Courage in Patience, too: it's what Ashley's stepfather, Charlie, who is her perpetrator, calls her.
10. Like Ashley, I am a transplant from the Dallas metro area to East Texas. My husband's business took off when he was working out of a shop on the edge of East Texas, about an hour southeast of Dallas, and we moved onto family land in a town near his shop in 2003. We built a house in the woods. It's not a log cabin, though, like David Asher's house is.
9. I used to have ducks and turkeys in a pen up the hill from my yard, and when I wrote Courage in Patience, their sounds were like background noise since I wrote a lot of it on my front porch.
8. At one time, there was a store in our town that is similar to Dixie Pride that is a plot point in Truth in Patience, and they sold the same sorts of t-shirts and racist propaganda that Jeff Foster's dad sells in the book.
7. I used to have an outside cat named Orange Kitty, and the evil gray cat, Loki, in The Patience Books is actually based on my daughter's cat. Like the fictional Loki, the real life one does, indeed, hate all things except himself. Sadly, Orange Kitty passed away last summer. She was over ten years old.
6. The principal of Patience High School, Mr. Walden, has hunting and fishing trophies in his office, and a pair of hip waders draped over a chair in his office. That character was inspired by two people: a high school principal I used to know, and a superintendent I witnessed at a Back-to-School staff development day who spoke to us while wearing rubber boots like those on fishing waders-- and a suit. I kid you not. He wore those boots with a pinstripe suit.
5. When working in a small East Texas town several years ago, I had a student who wrote about hunting a coyote, making a rug out of its skin, and cooking it. Unlike Travis Hager in Hope in Patience, however, my student did not make a hat out of the coyote's head...that I know of.
4. Like Uncle Frank and Steven living on the other side of the family land, I have in-laws who live up the hill from my house. When Ashley goes through the gate to see her mother at Asher Automotive in Courage in Patience, I envisioned my green gate at the top of our hill by the turkey & duck pen. In the summer, huge grasshoppers really do spring up out nowhere when I walk through the field to my in-law's house.
3. Ashley Asher is very much me as I was going through recovery, although I never scratched or cut myself like she does. Her stepmom, Beverly, a high school English teacher, is very much who I am as a teacher.
2. Ashley's dad, David, is a heavy equipment mechanic. My husband, Daniel, is a heavy equipment mechanic, although his shop is not in a big red barn in our pasture. Physical appearance-wise, "David" is based on my husband. However, real-life Daniel has never had a drinking problem, and we have been married since we were 18 and 19. He's never abandoned a child, but he totally would have beat the snot out of Charlie Baker if given half a chance.
1. Dr. Matt is real, y'all. Although my "Dr. Matt" is older and dressed a little differently than Ashley's "Dr. Matt," the interior of his office, where he counsels Ashley, is pretty much spot-on to the real thing. The waiting room, the building itself, and location, however, are very different. My therapist was still practicing at the time I wrote the books, and he made me disguise him and his office better than I initially did. ONE thing I can tell you that is the same, appearance-wise, is that laser-like blue-eyed stare that can see inside people's minds. The real "Dr. Matt" retired around the time I completed my journey to recovery. Although I jokingly say that I broke him, I didn't. His retirement was planned way before I darkened his door. And, just like Ashley's Dr. Matt, my Dr. Matt was and is AWESOME.