This week’s WIPpet from Cleaning House will be of a different sort. It’s the “Note From the Author” at the beginning of the novel. I’ve only done an author note for one other novel, but I think it’s necessary for Cleaning House to keep my intentions clear. I am neither making fun of nor misunderstanding the Appalachian people or their traditions in Cleaning House, because I, myself, am Appalachian born and raised.
Cleaning House is scheduled for release by Mountain Gap Books, a new Appalachian publisher, on October 1, 2018.
As for WIPpet math – I’m not even going to try.
Here’s the “Note from the Author” as it stands now, 499 words in length.
The Appalachian (properly pronounced Ap-pa-latch-an) people are a complicated mix of Scotts-Irish, British, German, and Native American traditions blended with a heaping-helping of Protestant Christian beliefs.
We’re often misunderstood and commonly stereotyped by outsiders who know very little about our culture. That said, Cleaning House embraces the queer Appalachian experience, a unique blending of resistance, acceptance, and perseverance. We, like the rest of Appalachia, are as hearty as they come, and, yes, it is entirely possible to get our red on or dander up (pick your poison), though generally in the queer-liberal sense. Again, we’re unique and complicated. We’re rainbow pinpoints in a red, mountainous sea, but we live here happily because we’re Appalachian folk. Some of us will never leave these mountains. Some leave and never come back. But many of us, like myself, leave only to return because our lives aren’t right once we leave the mountains. Something is missing. We’re lost. Part of us dies when we leave because our roots run from the bottom of New River Gorge to the top of Mount Mitchell and those roots can only stretch so far without beginning to break.
We’re poor and middle class. We’re educated and high school dropouts. We’re coal miners, teachers, convenience store employees, doctors, and nurses. We’re able-bodied, disabled, multi-faith, and multi-hued, but we all have one thing in common— our traditions.
Cleaning House is primarily set in Washington County, Tennessee, where I was born and raised. While Washington County rests in the Southern Appalachian foothills, I have also lived and worked in the more rural and mountainous settings of Carter County, Tennessee, and McDowell County, West Virginia. Neither of those locations is for the faint of heart, but the people there are amazingly resilient.
In short, I am a queer Appalachian woman and proud of it.
I would also like to address the use of Appalachian Granny Magic alongside European and neopagan witchcraft in Cleaning House. While Appalachian Granny Magic has its beginnings in both European and Native American traditions, it is firmly rooted in Protestant Christian beliefs. The characters in Cleaning House practice both Granny Magic and witchcraft in the form of paganism because their family lineages have embraced both paths, creating a unique belief system that is on the rise in Appalachia. Many, but by no means all, Appalachian witches are as likely to call on the Holy Trinity (or Holy Spirit) as they are to call on Gaia or the Goddess, a seeming conflict, but it isn’t to the practitioners. They plant by the signs, root work, and use water-witching as a means of finding a viable water source, so why wouldn’t they pray to the God of their raising alongside the Gods of their path? With this knowledge, the reader should also realize that the herbal remedies/ medical procedures described in Cleaning House are in no way a recommendation for their use nor should it be considered medical advice. Medical care should be obtained from a qualified medical professional and never based on something you read in a work of fiction.
As for the non-human characters in Cleaning House— please remember that this is a contemporary fantasy novel, a work of fiction, so the liberties are mine, the author’s, to take. But if you don’t believe in fairies or wee people, find a quiet, wooded spot somewhere, relax, and open your mind to the possibilities. You might be surprised by what you find.
Read more #WIPpet Wednesday posts from Cleaning House HERE.
*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.