Some people wonder why I set In Front of God and Everybody in 1986. There are a few reasons, but today I’ll mention only one.
The original concept for this series was a collection of books about the quirky and interesting people who live along an old dirt road in the Ozarks, Rough Creek Road. I wanted the stories to be rural in flavor and tone, and to show a life that many may remember but few of us will ever see again. In the mid-1980s, the farm crisis began to rear its ugly head. Farmers lost livelihood, land and homes that had been bought or built by great-grandparents or even longer ago. I had wanted my readers to honor the folks like my family and friends who faithfully had worked the land, raised the cattle, milked the cows and continued to find time to love each other and enjoy life until farming was no longer a viable way to earn a living.
My lead character in these stories is a child, and I wanted to tell the stories through her young eyes, watching with both humor and confusion as the old and familiar changed, not only around her but the world at large. I started the evolution simply, with new neighbors.
These days, the vision for that series has changed to meet a different market, and perhaps for the better. Only time will tell. But, for those of you who were curious why I chose not to set my story in the 21st century . . . now you know at least one reason, and maybe it’s the best reason of all.