Savannah Sweetwater

Mystery Author

Brown Beans

Like most writers/authors, there are elements of my own life that comes out in the characters I write. A lot of the words I write reflect my personal life experiences, as do many of the characters that come to life at the end of my fingertips.

The most beloved people in my life have impacted the characters I create.

In the Country Girl Mystery Series main character Hope Atwood has been raised by two very different but strong women. Both Aunt Roley and Aunt Smitty reflect the impacts a couple of amazing women have made on my own life from a very young age.

While no character I’ve written has ever been based solely on a single person, there are attributes of very specific people that come through in some of my favorite characters. Strong, stalwart Aunt Roley, for example, is a force of nature much like my own Aunt Ruth. Since my earliest years, my Aunt Ruth has been one of the best examples to me of maternal strength and female independence. This strong woman has battled cancer and worked in the criminal justice system. She’s marched in Washington, D.C. for the things she believes with a ferocity and determination unlike most people I’ve ever known. But she’s also a soft place to land for the people she loves.

I can recall a special conversation I had with my Aunt Ruth when my father was in the hospital. I realized in those wonderful moments that much of my own do-it-my-own-way spirit comes from her. While writing the Aunt Roley character, it became important to me to showcase the strength and determination of a good woman despite her circumstances.

Like my own aunt, Aunt Roley set example after example for her young niece of standing up for what is right, and how to keep standing upright when everything starts to go wrong.

In Fall’s Hope, the second book in the series, Aunt Roley’s status as a pillar of strength takes center stage. In the end, it is that strength that sees Hope through one of the darkest times in her life. There are even times when it’s the light from the love her aunt has for her that is the only thing that keeps her moving forward.

Possibly one of the most fun characters I’ve ever had the chance to write has been the ying to Aunt Roley’s yang, the loveable Aunt Smitty. Without a doubt, Aunt Smitty is the heart of the Hope’s unique family. When I wrote the “good brown beans” scene I thought of none other than my own Aunt Becky, who had quite the hand in raising me when I was a very small girl. My parents divorced while I was in Kindergarten, but life remained somewhat more normal than it could have been for me when my Aunt Becky took care of me through the summer when my mother went back to work and through the beginning of the school year.

Like Aunt Smitty, nothing would stop Aunt Becky from making the people in her home feel welcomed and cared for. Aunt Smitty’s “brown beans” is a nod to my aunt’s ever-ready generosity of spirit, a trait she no doubt inherited from my beloved grandmother.

I relate to Hope in a lot of ways, one of which is in the lack of a consistent solitary mother figure. The older I get the more it becomes clear that while my own mother/daughter relationship has had its challenges, I have not been left adrift alone at sea. I’ve fought hard to break the cycle with my own kids, and the like Hope, the other mothers in my life have played an invaluable role in shaping me and my own values.

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

-Michael J. Fox

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