I was worried about my grandma reading my book.
Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted that she's still with us at 93, her sense of humor intact, her physical health such that she can live in her own home. Her optimistic spirit passed down to me through genetics and example helped get me through the years of rejection and anonymous toil before my book deal and the publication of Real Life & Liars. I said as much in the inscription I wrote in the copy of my book I signed for her.
Still, I fretted somewhat. I'm no Quentin Tarantino, but my characters curse. To quote a relative on the other side of the family (who enjoyed my book despite the salty parts): "Thoughtful and intelligent people find other words to use."
True, but my characters behave in ways that are neither thoughtful nor intelligent. I blogged about this already at The Debutante Ball, so I won't belabor why I chose to include some of this language. Suffice to say I found it necessary because I write realistic fiction for a mainstream audience and frankly, people curse nowadays.
Back to my grandma. It was not just the cursing (even f-bombs now and then!) but the situations. One of my characters engages in some risky, careless sex, for example. There's drug use that spans generations. This is my grandma reading this, the one who taught me to knit.
My mother visited her recently and she said she was near the end of the book. My grandma said it was "a good read." My mother prodded her a little for her opinion on the content, saying I'd been nervous about her reaction to some of the more "colorful" words. My mother then added, "I told her it's nothing you haven't heard before."
"Oh well," she replied. "I've probably said some of them myself." And then laughed.
I was shocked to imagine this. Could it be true? The woman whom I've never heard say anything stronger than "Heavens!" Or "Goodness!" really have sworn in her lifetime? Maybe she's just like me, after all, I've been known to swear but I've never done it in front of her.
Maybe my grandma has cursed before, but of course wouldn't think to do so in front of her grandchildren, even her grown-up grandchildren. She had a whole life before I came along. I remember seeing an old picture of her in a skirt so short she could have touched the hem with her fingertips, without bending over.
In any case, I'm relieved and delighted to know I haven't horrified my grandmother. I guess I underestimated her ability to separate the book from the author. I really feared that she would think less of me for having written such things.
Now I finally realize how silly that is*. She's as proud as she can be that I achieved my dream, even if I wrote some cuss words along the way.
* Yes Mom, I realize you were saying that all along. You were right.