Oven-door fences

Today I welcome author Linda Clare to the Edge so we can chat about her new book, The Fence My Father Built. Linda has been jotting her thoughts down since she was young girl (I totally get that). She lives in Eugene, is a wife and mom, and teaches college-level writing. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of her new novel with its very distinctive cover – a fence made of oven doors. We both think it’s kind of cool that our newest releases feature fences in the titles and in the cover art!

Here’s the publisher’s description: When legally separated Muri Pond, a librarian, hauls her kids, teenager Nova and eleven year-old Truman, out to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, where her father, Joe Pond lived and died, she’s confronted by a neighbor’s harassment over water rights and Joe’s legacy: a fence made from old oven doors.

The fence and accompanying house trailer horrify rebellious Nova, who runs away to the drug-infested streets of Seattle. Muri searches for her daughter and for something to believe in, all the while trying to save her inheritance from the conniving neighbor who calls her dad Chief Joseph. Along with Joe’s sister, Aunt Lutie, and the Red Rock Tabernacle Ladies, Muri must rediscover the faith her alcoholic dad never abandoned in order to reclaim her own spiritual path.

Edge: Where did the seed of this story come from?
Linda: The Fence My Father Built drew on several life experiences. Since I was a small child, I always longed to know my birth father. I was a precocious little brat who remembered the day Mom and NewDad (who adopted me) left me with Grams while they went to Las Vegas to get married. Adopted Dad was the best! Yet this part of me couldn’t let go of the question: Where did I come from? To make matters more complicated, Mom was adopted too, so my family tree was a really skinny short bush. I located RealDad when I was an adult, but unlike the story, he is still alive and well and living in Chino Valley, AZ.

Edge: Did you see a fence made of oven doors once that you knew you just had to weave into a story?
Linda: I got the idea for the fence from a newspaper article my local paper did, about a nice old guy who lived in a ratty trailer, mended bikes for kids, kept potbellied pigs and had built a fence from old oven doors. No photo, just the description. I stole that shamelessly.

Edge: What is the significance of the oven doors to you?
Linda: The fence symbolizes my father’s (and Muri’s) lifelong search for his daughter. Dad never gave up hope of finding me. I also think it’s a statement of how God has given us the Bible as a way to see the path we travel. A beacon, if you will. You gotta admit, that fence is eyecatching.

Edge: How about the rundown trailer Muri inherits?
As a child, I used to stay with my folks in a similar trailer in Oak Creek Canyon, a beautiful place in Northern Arizona. I loved staying there.

Edge: What do you hope the reader draws from those images?
Linda: I’m hoping readers see that life circumstances do nothing to alter God’s opinion of you. Whether you’re rich or poor, fancy or plain, God loves you and is willing to meet you where you are—even if you’re on the fence.

Edge: Are any parts of it autobiographical?
Linda: Probably a lot. My aunt was a head librarian for a large school district. I was driven to know my dad and once we met in real life, I learned I’m part Cherokee Indian.

Edge: Does your interest in the Nez Perce tribe stem from your own history? If not, then where?
Linda: Originally I was going to set the story in Arizona near Oak Creek and Sedona. But when I took a trip to Central Oregon, I saw the same red dirt and I was hooked. The Nez Perce piece came because Muri’s father was named after the famous Chief Joseph, and because I decided to set the story in Oregon.

Edge: What do you think makes us, to one extent or another, yearn for “home?”
Linda: When I was a ten year-old in Yuma, Arizona, I was sent far away by myself to a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah for corrective orthopedic surgery on my left arm—paralyzed from polio I’d had as a baby. I stayed in that place for 3 months without my family. I had two more trips there, until I was 12 and each time I got so lonely for family. You never realize how important home is until you can’t get there.

Edge: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Linda: When’s that? I also teach writing at a local college, and also mentor and edit other writers. But aside from reading, I love to garden and I love cats. And playing with my daughter’s new teacup Chihuahua, Bella.

Edge: What’s next on the horizon for you?
Linda: I’m nearly finished with another stand-alone novel, this time set on the blustery Oregon Coast, called Hiding From Floyd. And if readers yell loudly enough, maybe they’ll let me write more about Murkee, the oven doors fence and those crazy Ponds.

Thanks for being here, Linda. You can learn more about Linda from her interview at the Novel Journey and on her blog.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Author: Susan

This post has 3 Comments

  1. Linda Clare on November 23, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks so much for allowing me to be a guest on The Edge. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Linda

  2. Nicole on November 24, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Good interview, Ladies.

  3. Susan Meissner on November 25, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks for stopping by, Nicole! Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

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