The virtual book blog tour for Mud Bog Murder is over as is the tour for Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime. I had fun with both the tours, and I especially loved getting to know the other authors from Happy Homicides 4.
In one of the interviews from my tour, I was asked if there were any similarities between Eve Apple and me, and I confessed to there being few. Now that I have time to reflect back on that question, I have to say that she and I do not look alike and I don’t chase down criminals, but Eve is a snoopy, sassy gal and I think she got some of that from me, but the most important part of being Eve Appel is her sense of taking action when she sees injustice. That was a gift my father gave me, and I, in turn, gave it to Eve.
Quiet and shy as I was as a kid, I also had a vivid imagination. I had to, because I was an only child isolated by living at the edge of town on a farm. Our acreage was small, so Dad was able to work it alone, bringing in help only when filling silo. Mom was not a farm girl, so she did work inside the house while Dad handled outside chores. He always had me for company because I tagged along as he milked, fed animals, cleaned barns, and, when we had dairy cows, led them out to pasture or got them in for the evening’s milking.
There was a family with two boys who lived near us. The younger boy and another lad who boarded cattle at our farm took to tagging along with Dad also. He seemed to enjoy the male company and, as I had made friends at school, I had activities off the farm to amuse me, so I didn’t mind the time the boys spent with my dad. Up to a point. When Dad taught the neighbor boy who was two years younger than I was how to drive our small Allis Chalmers tractor, I felt betrayed. I’d never been offered that opportunity, so I told my dad how left out I felt. He agreed to teach me to drive the tractor (I was in my early teens), but warned me that driving it was not simply for fun, but he might call on me to help him in the fields. I learned to drive the tractor with ease, and it was fun. Put the brake on one side, give ‘er a little gas, and you could spin around in a tight circle. The larger Minneapolis Moline tractor was a lot more to handle, but Dad insisted I learn to operate that one too. It was the one we used to bale hay. Maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. The summer I learned to drive those tractors was the one I spent in the hay fields with my dad. I never resented the work, although that big machine had me scared silly.
Eve would have been as insistent as I that she be taught to drive. She would have willingly helped in the fields. The only difference is she would never have been frightened by any piece of machinery. Yep, Eve might have gotten her gumption from me, but her lack of fear? That belongs solely to Eve. The model for Eve’s loyalty to family and friends, her sense of fair play and interest in preserving the environment which she displays in Mud Bog Murder came from my dad. In terms of social and political beliefs we were a pretty forward thinking family, but I never met anyone in our small, conservative town who didn’t respect my father and listen seriously to what he had to say. I tried to give Eve my father’s insistence upon justice and adherence to equal treatment for everyone. He was quite a guy. I hope I’ve made Eve quite a gal.
Remember the contest I launched at the beginning of the summer just after July 4? I offered a copy of Mud Bog Murder to the first person who could name the largest number of tractors manufactured in the United States between 1940 and 1970? Some of you are obviously farm kids, but the person who first named six tractors was Jim Callan, another writer. We became friends through the internet and are fans of each other’s work. Congratulations, Jim. You named six manufacturers: MasseyFergusen, Ford, Deere (did you call them “Johnny Poppers”?), Allis Chalmers, Farmall, and Case. Here are two more: Minneapolis Moline and Linn. I’ll bet you never heard of the last one. There’s a special story about Linn tractors, but I’ll leave that for another blog.