People always ask, “Where do your ideas come from?” Sometimes, I’m not really sure. The story just comes to me, and only after it’s written do I realize that I had something in common with the main character. But with my new book IVY IN THE SHADOWS, I knew Ivy and I shared a particular vice: eavesdropping.
Eavesdropping is what I used to do when my mom talked to her friends or if the neighbor ladies gathered. It gave me valuable knowledge, such as overhearing that the woman who lived on the corner was a “real witch.” If I hadn’t heard, I’d have never known to hold my breath when I passed her house so I wouldn’t breathe in any wayward spells.
And you’d think that, with a church as small as ours, I’d have caught sight of the “old codger” who wore a piece of shag carpeting on his head. I’d overheard that the only time he took off his seed corn cap was when he wore his “cheap rug” to church. But, try as I might, I never saw him.
I vividly remember thinking that the word “pregnant” was a cuss word because they would lower their voices when they said it. “Did you hear that Ann is pregnant?” I thought it had to rate right up there with damn and hell, two other words they said in hushed tones.
Honestly, though, until I was in middle school I said, “going to have a baby” instead of “pregnant” because it felt like I was saying something wrong. Only when I was old enough to sneak in a damn or hell did I feel safe saying pregnant, too.
I know I’m not the only person who eavesdropped as a kid. A little boy I once knew told me he thought he’d suddenly developed super powers when he started hearing things that weren’t meant for him.
So I was inspired to write about Ivy, who spends too much time snooping into her mother and aunt’s conversations and doesn’t spend enough time listening to the things she should.