Edward and Marianne (the main characters in “All the Time in Our World”) grew up in Abilene, TX. They met at Crockett Elementary School, went to different junior highs, and then became friends again at Cooper High School.
Garison Fitch, in “Saving Time” spends a day in Abilene so he can watch Heather play volleyball at Abilene Christian University.
Bat Garrett, Heather’s one-time boyfriend and Garison’s least favorite person, attended Cooper High School in Abilene, TX.
Joe Whitcomb, one of two main characters in “Psalm 88″, grew up an hour north of Abilene in Haskell. Jason Kerrigan, of “Lost Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch – Book 3″ grew up in Haskell and Paint Creek.
Are you sensing a pattern here? They say you should write what you know about, so many of my main characters are from Abilene, as am I. My parents are from Haskell, TX, so all those years I spent visiting my grandparents there had an indelible imprint on me and my writing.
Notice, though, that all of these characters leave the place they’re from. That’s where you see the most of me. Looking back now, I have fond things to think of Abilene–and even fonder memories of Haskell–but at the time I was growing up there I couldn’t wait to get out. One of my best friends (to this day) once told me he thought about dropping out of school just so he could get out of Abilene. I told him I stayed in school just because that seemed like the best ticket out.
Abilene is a big part of who I am, even though I haven’t been there in 15 years. When I think of school, I think of it in terms of Crockett, Jefferson and Cooper. Even though I have been preaching for almost 20 years now–in churches in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado–when I dream about church (which I do almost every Saturday night), the setting is always the building there in Abilene. When I think of grandparents, I think of Haskell (which I actually saw about 6 years ago).
My parents moved out of Abilene about when I did, so I don’t think of it as home. But it will always be my hometown.