One-Shot & Me

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Becky & Jenny at the One-Shot Cabin

When I was six, my Great-aunt, Wylly Folk St John published her first book, The Secrets Of Hidden Creek.

She was 58.

After Wednesday’s post, you can probably understand why this knowledge is more than a bit comforting to me.

That said, Aunt Wylly wrote for years before publishing her first book. As a journalist for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, she had to constantly meet deadlines and she was paid to write long before she graduated from the University of Georgia where 47 boxes of her writings are archived in the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

She went on to publish eight books, two of which were nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Mystery Writers of America award.

My cousin, McKenzie posted a comment on Facebook yesterday where she talked about how she and her young son were reading one of Aunt Wylly’s books at bedtime and how it gave him more insight into who his Grandmother Becky was as a girl, as well as his Great-great-grandmother Wylly.

Aunt Wylly loved using real children as characters in her books so McKenzie’s son is enjoying reading about his grandmother as the teenager she was in 1966 when The Secrets of Hidden Creek was published. Much of the story’s setting and characters are clearly modeled after the real thing. First books often pull in parts of the author’s life and my unfinished novel is no different.

If you’ve followed my blog for long it probably won’t surprise you to learn that there is a character in my book who is modeled in some ways after my aunt and you might also understand why seeing McKenzie’s message on Facebook felt like a little cosmic push especially since I’ve  been so unproductive lately.

Aunt Wylly would probably appreciate my thinking she was sending me a message given her interest in ghosts when she was alive.

The hammock in the first picture figures into the story that McKenzie is reading with her son. It was used on the book jacket in 1966 as you can see from the image below. In addition to Becky and Jenny, their brother, Chuck is in the illustration with them.

Wylly Folk St John

I have some lovely memories of time spent at the cabin with Aunt Wylly and later on with my cousins. And while my daughter doesn’t really remember it, she once had a chance to wrestle for the hammock like her cousins did as characters in Aunt Wylly’s book.


Miranda & Elizabeth at the One-Shot Cabin 1993

This oft fought for spot had to be replaced more than a few times over the years as the humidity of hot Georgia summers and squirmy children did their damage. One of my favorite memories of Aunt Wylly’s lakeside hideaway, it was always snug like a little cocoon, making a perfect nest to read a book and drift off to sleep. Comforting and safe, it was a place I where could let my guard down during a dangerous time in my life and just be for a while with normal kid worries and daring daydreams.

The seed of storytelling for me may not have been planted at the One-Shot cabin, but it was most certainly nurtured there … in a hammock, on a porch, overlooking a lake, with a secret hidden deep under the water.

Big thanks to McKenzie for helping me aerate my roots a bit. 

Public Libraries & Me

Date: 16/04/10
According to our records the following items are nearing their return date.
Please return or renew them as soon as possible as fines may be charged on overdue items. Please be aware you may not be able to renew your items if the item has been reserved or your account has expired.
Please contact us if you have any query regarding this notice.

Recently, I received this noticed for three days prior to my books reaching the deadline for their return. I have loved public libraries for almost as long as I have loved books, but I must confess, I have not always been diligent about returning my borrowed books in a timely fashion. The first thing I got when I began my transition from America to England was a library card for the Cornwall public library. I began checking out books right away and I must admit I have been late getting them back a couple of times, but nothing too horrible or so I thought until recently.

This time as it drew close to the return date, I began receiving email updates each day letting me know it was almost time to return my books. When I got the first one I thought what a great idea, but with another coming each day, I began to wonder if I was on some sort of list. You know, the kind where someone out there feels like you might need a little instruction or guidance to put you on the proper path.

I decided I was being a bit silly thinking that this might be some sort of behavior modification program designed for people like me until I returned my books yesterday on the last and final day before they would be overdue. And while I can’t say for sure, I think I might have seen a look pass between the two librarians along with a subtle head nod if you know what I mean. Now I am wondering if there’s a repeat offender list for book borrowers … and if so, am I on it?

Bought or borrowed, I hope you are getting your nose in a few good books and I promise if you ever loan me one, I won’t keep it so long that you have to ask for it back.