Inspiration comes from varied sources. A few years ago a photo in the newspaper caught my attention. It was a picture of a young woman with her head in a towel. She had just washed her hair in a make-shift shower in the middle of a tent city somewhere in the mid-western United States.
Her story gripped me and didn't let go. She and her family had become homeless, as had everyone else who was living there. The article described people who had once been middle-class, working Americans who, for a variety of reasons, had lost their income, and eventually their homes.
I used to be a teacher and the young woman reminded me of students I once taught. Many of the kids I knew came from privileged backgrounds. They went to lessons, got tutored, and got chauffeured by their parents from sport to sport. They never went without food, clothing, or the latest tech toy. But what if something happened, I thought. What if they suddenly lost everything, like the young woman in the photo? I wondered how a suburban American teenager would manage if she went from having it all to having nothing.
And so my character Delia Williams was created and my novel HARDSCRABBLE WAY began.
As I did research for my novel, I was stunned to learn there was a tent city ten miles from my home. Further research led me to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (www.NAEHCY.com) where there is an abundance of information and ways to help, if you are so inclined. Each year in the US there are approximately 1.5 million students who are homeless. As I write this in 2016, there is legislation pending in Congress called the Homeless Children & Youth Act.
Like most authors, I wrote my novel to share a story. But if I can shine a light on the plight of homeless children, I am happy to do so.