Questions from a High School Student in Bay, AK

On 8-May-10, at 1:04 AM, X wrote:

Hello! It’s very exciting to be able to possibly talk to you, a professional author. I love writing. Someday, I hope to write a book or two. But I was just wondering, how did you choose the setting of The Drifts? I am a student at Bay High School, and I just think it’s really awesome that the setting of a book is in my town. But I thought I would ask how you stumbled across Bay, Arkansas as the setting. Hope you write back!

(P.S. – I plan on buying/reading the book!)

From: Thom Vernon
Subject: Re: The setting of “The Drifts”
To: “X”

Date: Saturday, May 8, 2010, 6:08 AM

O’, I’m so glad you wrote…! I actually didn’t stumble on Bay; it’s attached to my leg.

A whole side of my family is from Bay. I grew up coming down to Bay to visit relatives; and then my aunts, my father, my grandma all grew up down there. Because of all the stories they told me about Bay (burning down the school house, falling in love at fourteen, chopping off fingers on a dare) that area – in particular, the town –took on an apocryphal/mythical place in my imagination. A lot of my people came up to Michigan, from Bay, in the thirties, to work at Pontiac Motors; others are still down there and we resemble each other a lot!

And I love the land there; the biscuits & gravy and the catfish. There is something about those fields stretching out, boxed in by those long stretches of road. I have gotten stuck in the mud in those fields in my old Beemer! You have to go all the way down them and around at right angles to get, say, out to the highway to Lake City and so on.

Plus, there’s a whole gender/sex thing that was passed through our family that indeed seemed to foment down there. Lots of secrets. Those gender relations and identity things unconsciously fueled the book. At least I think they did; it seems like it to me. My great-grandfather, for example, had his wife on one side of his huge property with something like eight kids and his mistress, Mrs. Butters, on the other end of the property with eleven children. Everybody knew that for generations, but nobody spoke of it. And more. The Drifts is not a retelling of those stories. The stories attached themselves to my creativity. And, apparently, stewed.

I can’t wait to get down there and read. Maybe in Bay but more likely in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, etc.

Long answer, but it’s great to talk to someone who knows Bay. You know what? The other thing that drove me about the book (which is not a message book at all) was that my experience of Bay and Arkansas has been completely different than the way it is sometimes white-washed (pun intended).

Best – and enjoy the book! Please let me know how it sits with you.


Subject: Re: The setting of “The Drifts”
Date: May 8, 2010 10:42:05 AM EDT (CA)

Don’t worry, the long answer definitely doesn’t bother me! Thank you so much for writing back! I’m even more excited to read the book now! But that’s very interesting. I sure do hope you come to Jonesboro to read. I would come. And some crazy stuff does happen in Bay. I completely understand what you are saying about the biscuits and gravy, the fields and gravel roads. Especially, the creativity you have! I have quite an imagination myself. I think that the mixture of a small southern town and gender identity issues is very mysterious, and appealing. In Bay, everyone knows everything (as I’m sure you know), so it’s very intriguing and refreshing to read the revealing of secrets not known at that time. Pardon my asking, but do you mind telling me who you are related to now? I’d love to know! Thanks again!


~ by Thom on May 9, 2010.

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