May 19, 2010

I loved all the carnival lore in TWILIGHT EYES. How did you learn all that?—Connie, Florida

During my childhood, we lived across the highway from the county fairgrounds. The county fair was the biggest event of the year. Even bigger than the summer-long thrill of watching corn grow. I knew all the places where you could sneak under the fence and get in for free. Consequently, I spent a huge part of fair week on the fairgrounds, but not in the livestock and home crafts exhibitions! I might run up to the barns to see the biggest hog of the year, because everyone gets a kick out of huge hogs, but otherwise I was on the midway. I was fascinated with the exotic, gaudy world of the carnival, with the life on the road that it offered. Because of our poverty and my father’s alcoholism, I might have run away with the carnival if they would have accepted me. My fascination with carnies has endured, though current carnivals are a pale imitation of what they once were.

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