For Such A Time As This

First published in 2003, For Such A Time As This is one of my favorite novels, but my original publisher did me a disservice: they produced lousy cover design, lousy interior design; they offered little to no editing, and they had no distribution network. So why did I go with them? I was young and naïve. Years later, I’m a better writer, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Tragic Miss Sanders

Tragic Miss Sanders

Why is this novel important? It was inspired by characters from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, a work of genius that is still performed by theater groups in Illinois. I fell in love with Masters’ poetry when I read it, and thus created the characters of Evelyn Sanders and Will Garrett. Toward the end of my novel, the main character Jill McKendrick states, “What will they say about me when I’m gone?” This theme haunts all of us. Though short-lived, lovely Miss Sanders certainly left her mark on the world, especially on her students. This is the whole point of Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. His characters cry out from the grave: What do they say about me now that I’m gone?

When I studied in Rome, I was downstairs in my university library browsing through the stacks, and low and behold, I found a book by Edgar Lee Masters. As I perused the book, I discovered that he’d written a poem about a historic lock tender’s house on the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

During the summers, I worked at a state park along the Illinois and Michigan Canal. One day we worked inside the 1840s lock tender’s house Masters had written about, except we called it Ranger Bob’s house. My friend and I had the inglorious distinction of ruining this historical monument. Ranger Bob told us to wash the walls in his living room; he gave us such strong detergent, not only did it clean the walls; it took the paint right off!

So when I read about Ranger Bob’s house 3,000 miles away from home, I couldn’t help but laugh. Nevertheless, Master’s poetry left a mark on me, and I hope you enjoy my new edition of For Such A Time As This.

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