I lived in New York forever. (At times it seemed longer).
Then we decided to move.
With my Yankee pedigree, I understood the vast differences moving to Tennessee would involve. After all, as a young child, I yearned to ride with the freedom riders. They lived in the South. Tennessee’s coordinates placed it in the South.
As a hippie, I watched Easy Rider.
Then I saw Deliverance. Need I say more?
My writing friend Cathy became excited about my relocation. She insisted I write a novel exploring the vast differences between the North and the South. Her idea had merit.
Then I moved here.
My notions dissipated like the smoke from a barbeque or the heat from freshly fried okra. The people here liked New Yorkers. No one called me an intruder. They shopped at the same stores and attended churches similar to my old one. They served on Habitat for Humanity or the Lions’ Club. They wrote books, gardened and helped their neighbors. I visited schools as a clinical supervisor and found progressive, dedicated teachers, and students who learned advanced curriculum.
Except for the hill dialect, cornbread, no differences existed. I had no story.
Still, Cathy nagged. “Write the book.”
While I ignored her command, I explored our area.
A quaint town with a horrid name lay a few miles to the north of my new home. Friends took me to Stinking Creek, a quiet hamlet of doublewides and stone houses. We drove down back roads where no homes existed and the theme of my book took root.
Assumptions.They never tell the truth.
With a theme established, my story always develops.
A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek depicts two women with diametrically opposed philosophies. They are each other’s only neighbors and only help. One, an atheist abstract artist is wrenched from Manhattan. The other, a staunch conservative, never left Stinking Creek.
Both assume the worst of the other.
Seeing as we already asserted that assumptions lie, they discover their errors in judgment.
Nothing’s as it seems on Stinking Creek.
And if we judge and never check the facts, we will live a lie.
Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven...How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6: 37, 42).
The little flaw we see in others reflects the huge one in our lives. Let us be like my two characters and learn assumptions make fools of us.
NOTHING GOOD COMES FROM STINKING CREEK
Alone, again, after the death of her fiancé, abstract artist Kiara Rafferty finds herself on Stinking Creek, Tennessee. She wants out of this hillbilly backwater, where hicks speak an unknown language masquerading as English. Isolated, if she doesn’t count the snakes and termites infesting her cabin, only a one-way ticket home to Manhattan would solve her problems.
Alone in a demanding crowd, Delia Mae McGuffrey lives for God, her husband, her family, and the congregation of her husband’s church. Stifled by rules, this pastor’s wife walks a fine line of perfection, trying to please them all. Now an atheist Yankee, who moved in across the road, needs her, too.
Two women.Two problems. Each holds the key to the other’s freedom.
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Author Carol McClain is an eclectic artist and author. Her interests vary as much as the Tennessee weather—running, bassoons, jazz, stained glass and, of course, writing. She’s a transplant from New York who now lives in the hills of East Tennessee with her husband and overactive Springer spaniel.
She is the president of ACFW Knoxville and the secretary of the Authors’ Guild of Tennessee.
The world in East Tennessee intrigues her from the friendly neighbors to the beautiful hiking trails and the myriad wildlife.