A Note From the Author

From the Red & Black Breed

Preview Edition

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Nudes and DogsNudes_and_Dogs.html
Truth or FictionTruth_or_Fiction.html
About the BookAbout_the_book.html
About the AuthorAbout_the_Author.html
International Commentaryhttp://woosnews.com/WoosNews/Daily_Woos_News_Update/Entries/2009/6/6_Germans_are_thrilled.html

About a dozen years ago, I was working at a loss. My husband had died when our son was eight months old. I was practically broke. I’d moved cross country to be closer to family, and I wanted to get back to writing.

I’d worked as a newspaper reporter for twenty years before my son was born. I loved writing for newspapers and never really minded a 60-hour work week, but I knew if I took a full-time job, I’d miss being with my baby boy during most of his waking hours. So I tried freelancing from home, which was about as productive as cooking breakfast on a bicycle.

Then my father had a massive heart attack, my mother-in-law died, two of my best friends died, and the only guy I’d dated since my husband died was brutally murdered. Nothing was going well and I had no idea that things might get any better anytime soon.

Then an old high school buddy called. He’d launched a little publishing business and was scouting for talent. I guess he remembered those stellar essays I wrote for our AP English classes and thought I could write a great book too.

What kind of book?

We could figure that out.

I came up with a slew of fabulous proposals – most of them non-fiction, and one scintillating sci-fi. All of them were turned down by my friend as interesting but not particularly profitable, so I kept brainstorming.

I was kicking around ideas with another young mom who used to be a counselor before she had kids. She suggested I write about what it was like to lose my husband so early on in our family life. In retrospect, I think she meant that as therapy, not a publishing project, but I was still in my reporter mindset.

“No,” I said. “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people writing about their personal loss like there’s something special about it. Everybody has loss, one way or another, and usually there’s nothing newsworthy about it.”

A few weeks later my publishing friend called to tell me exactly what kind of book he wanted me to write. It would be set in Athens, Georgia. There would have a bulldog in it and there would be something really scary about it. Besides the bulldog. Within the week I was going to town on my first big work of fiction.

I wrote the first draft and got some feedback. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. My friend suggested I could add a few titillating details, as long as I didn’t mention that sorority by name. And yes, I knew that sex scene was too subtle, but I didn’t want to spell it out. Not if my son was ever going to read it.

I was already on the second edit when 9/11 happened.

I can’t say all the reasons why that terribly real event changed everything I had written in my little local thriller up to that point but I do know, somehow, even fiction should be true to life.

A few months later, my friend’s publishing venture took a hit and we agreed to forget about that contract we’d never signed anyway.  I took full ownership of my story and started all over with a couple of familiar characters in a completely different book – one with passion and trauma, courage and fear, and a frightening reflection of current and past events – the truth and half-truths of headline stories running from August through October of 2001.

 Anyone who was living in the U.S. during that season of history can relate this story to a personal timeline. Some of the scenes are common to us all, but others might offer a new perspective on tragedy and how to deal with it.

I do believe now, in contrast to what I thought before, that there is great value in understanding loss and writing about it – even the common kinds of loss, like deaths from cancer and old age. It’s good to learn from these more predictable endings, as well as the unexpected ones. The murder, the fire, the car wreck, the plane crash, poisonings, wars, terrorist attacks, and other mass killings.

Then there are the subtle, more pervasive kinds of loss. The loss of a sense of security in the world. A loss of faith. A loss of confidence, coupled with an overwhelming fear that you might not be able to handle what’s about to happen just down the road, or that your child might not have the chance to grow up in the good and happy country that you knew when you were a kid. Okay. Maybe things weren’t so good and happy when you were a kid, but at least you had a chance.

Now, after finally finishing this book roughly ten years after I started it, I realize, in some ways, I’ve gone and done exactly what I’d told my friend I wasn’t going to do. I went and wrote about my personal loss like there was something special about it.

Yes, there’s a widowed mom character in this book, and she’s overwhelmed by grief.  But there’s also a story about someone who gets back on her feet, and people who are almost scared to death, but they still muster up their courage and dare to do what’s right, and they have one hell of an adventure because of it.

I also found out, working on this book, that I didn’t need to be on staff at a big newspaper to investigate and write a great news story. Or two. Or three. Researching the background for a few scenes, I stumbled onto some of the biggest blocks of hard news I’ve ever run into, and I do believe the way they’re integrated into this story is reason enough to take even a fictional scenario seriously, and get your Red Cross recommended emergency supply kit and family disaster plan in order.

And be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables too. You’re going to need to be strong.

You’re going to find all kinds of great advice in this book.

Now this book is so good, it’s scary. This book is so good it sings. This book is so good, after you read it, you’re going to spend the whole next week thinking, “Whoa!! Could that really happen?” Then you’re going to be shocked to find out it already did. Maybe.

Most of all, I hope you enjoy this book, and you have as much fun and anguish reading it as I had writing it. I hope it makes you laugh, because if it does, I did something right. But if it makes you cry – that’s just your problem.


Have at it!


With best wishes for love, peace, and lots of good fuff –


Molly Read Woo

Copyright ® 2010. Molly Read Woo. All rights reserved.