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Poverty,Spousal Abuse & Love, with Guest Author Alana Cash

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My dad grew up in a community in Arkansas that is still reached by driving seven miles on a dirt road off a two-lane blacktop.  He attended a one-room schoolhouse that is still standing and joined the military as soon as he was old enough.  Every summer, when I was a kid, we drove 500 miles or so to visit the folks.  Except for the long drive, it was fun because they lived like old-time cowboys – no electricity, no plumbing, no milk delivery.  My mom took a lot of naps, but I helped my grandmother feed chickens and collect eggs, pick just enough vegetables from the garden for dinner (lunch) or supper, and although I stayed away from the cow, I shook cream into butter in a big mason jar.

One day, when I was living in Austin, Texas, I asked myself:  I wonder if my grandmother ever fell in love with anyone else and decided to write a short story about a love triangle on a farm in Arkansas.  That story turned into 300 pages called TOM’S WIFE.  The details of buildings, natural landscape and weather are accurately set on my grandparents’ farm. 

 The characters of Annie and Tom Huckaby are composites of people I met in Arkansas with unique characteristics added.  Jake’s character is based on reading Stephen Birmingham’s book, Our Crowd, the story explaining how the Jewish banking firms started in NYC by sending their sons into the South as peddlers then loaning out the profits to other immigrating Jews. 

Alana Cash is an award-winning filmmaker and author. She taught writing classes at the University of Texas Informal Classes in Austin, Texas, and was one of 60 U.S. teachers chosen to be profiled in the PBS series "A Writer's Exchange." She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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