As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Terry Shames is visiting my blog today, with a post about returning to Texas as a "foreigner" after having lived in California for many years. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Terry is running a contest for a free autographed copy of her the second mystery in her Samuel Craddock series, The Last Death of Jack Harbin, the cover art for which appears above. Terry will select the winner tomorrow evening from among those who leave a comment today or tomorrow and will announce the name in a comment on this post.
In the book, with the chief of police out of commission, it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate the brutal murder of a Gulf War veteran who was a former high school football star. Craddock uncovers a dark tale of greed and jealousy that extends into the past, and well beyond the borders of the small town of Jarrett Creek.
Sounds like a chilling read to me! Below is Terry's guest article.
When you read this, I’ll be spending two weeks in Texas. Texas?!!
I can’t tell you the number of people who have said to me, “I wouldn’t like to go to Texas. I can’t stand the weather or the politics.” And yet those same people would jump at the chance to go to Russia, Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, England, Venezuela—or any of a host of countries where the weather and/or the politics might be extreme.
I was brought up in Texas and couldn’t wait to get out. Couldn’t stand the weather or the politics.
And yet, I love to go back and visit, not just because I have a slew of relatives there that I love, nor because “home” is always in your blood. I like to go because in its own way Texas has an exotic way of life and a cultural heritage unlike any other. When I go now, I look at it through the eyes of a tourist.
Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio have wonderful art museums, ballet companies, and fine dining. Austin has its music scene. But even in the hinterlands you can come across pockets of “exotic” culture. You can run across a church that is having a performance of amazing gospel music, or a small-town fiddle contest,
or an art gallery that has discovered a local artist who produces work like you’ve never seen anywhere else.
The strong Mexican heritage of Texas means that all over the state you run into interesting adobe structures—houses and missions, and wonderful murals and art, not to mention mariachi music and soulful serenades.
Texans have a strong need to boast—but you really can find fantastic barbecue, succulent oysters and shrimp, delicious Tex-Mex entrees and margaritas.
In the spring driving back-country highways, you want to stop again and again to feast your eyes on the blankets of wildflowers that were the passion of Ladybird Johnson.
If you are more interested in challenges, try Big Bend National Park for some of the most rugged and dramatic mountains you’ve ever faced.
Or try windsurfing or kiteboarding or just walk for miles on the beaches of Padre Island. Bird watching in the state is amazing. A few years ago, I played tourist and went to King Ranch and saw as many birds in one afternoon as I did on the best day in Costa Rica.
In the 90s I lived in Italy for a time, and you would think I would return and find Texas architecture sadly wanting. But after the grandeur and beauty of the old, old Italian cities, I found myself appreciating the austere stateliness of prairie architecture.
I go back to Texas often to renew my “feel” for the extremes of weather and culture of Texas because my Samuel Craddock series is set there in a fictional town much like any small town in central Texas. I’ve come to appreciate the state from the outside looking in. In some ways it’s as exotic as Russia or Indonesia—and a lot easier to get to.
Thanks, Terry! Now, who has a comment or question for Terry Shames? Good luck in the contest!