A number of events in my life seemed to coalesce to form the basis for Sheetrock Angel. The first draft was actually a screenplay which I later used as an outline for the rough draft of the novel. I sent it around to some agents, one in particular who told me that my protagonist went off into the sunset with the wrong character. But the reason I wrote the book in the first place was to work through the demise of my own marriage, to let go of the fantasy ideal I had devised for our future. One of the underlying themes of the book is to use reality as your point of departure, not your idea of how things should be.
The belief in something – anything – is also an important underlying theme. Without an anchor, a core belief, the human spirit can lose its moorings. Traditionally beliefs have been in religion or accepted societal mores, but if one isn’t inclined toward the traditions, it can be as simple as believing in love. Any kind of love will do: friendship, marriage, parent/child. People need to be grounded by some belief. It’s as necessary as breathing.
I explore the main character, Audrey’s, fear of her family’s mental illness. I gave Audrey’s mother schizophrenia while depression ran in my own family. When I became depressed during my divorce, I feared that it would become the rule rather than the exception. As I point out in Sheetrock Angel, I see mental health as a continuum rather than discrete diseases which occur or reoccur. I think anyone can slide along the mental health continuum given chemistry, hormones, or inciting incidents appropriate to syndromes like depression.
Another idea, that is important to me and is evident in the book, is the notion of anonymous kindness. There are everyday angels all around us. While we expect kindness from those near and dear to us, we’re always amazed by grace bestowed by strangers. If we can remember to spread more kindness around ourselves there will be that many more people to be touched and amazed.
Jeanne C. Davis grew up in southern California then travelled the world as a Pan Am purser until she landed a job writing for the television series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She wrote, produced and directed the independent feature, The Uniform Motion of Folly. She is currently at work on her second novel which explores her life with Pan Am, and another feature film, Lip Service, along with a documentary about her family's four generations in the carousel business. Visit www.sheetrockangel.homestead.com or SheetrockAngel on Facebook. You also can visit Jeanne’s website at www.bricolage-arts.com.
Thank you so much for joining us today Jeanne, please check out her book, Sheetrock Angel and checkout the Pump Up Your Book! website for further tour dates.