Talking to my husband the other day, he mentioned that the Appalachian region produces the most marijuana in the entire country. I was taken aback. Appalachia? Seriously? I would have guessed the Pacific Northwest in a heartbeat. But, upon further reflection, it made a certain kind of sense. First, the phrase “hillbilly weed farmer” sounds totally reasonable. Second, hillbillies make moonshine, so the step up to herbal alternatives is just a solid, if riskier, business tactic. Third, it’s documented fact. Documented fact is pretty trustworthy.
Two years ago I wrote a story about a hillbilly family. I researched the people of Appalachia, came to understand, in part, some of their rebellious spirit. It’s different from the Texan spirit, my personal flavor of Southernness. Texans don’t have the same innate distrust of government authority that Appalachian people do. Texans have a sharply defined, reflexive sense of state identity: the people define Texas as much as its geography defines them.
If I were to name an all-time favoite musician, it would be Hoyt Axton. He even beats out The Beatles, who come in a very close second. He was a large man, posessed of a deep rolling voice which could sooth, amaze, and tear into me. I like to imagine he was a kindhearted man who was sometimes called upon sacrifice that which he cared for.
In my loathed creative writing class, we read a chapter which rambled eloquently about hard-boiled detective mystery novels. I thought, “Hey! It might be fun to write one of these.”