Why I wrote “The Little Girl Waits”
I always intended to write novels about Pastor Butch Gregory. He was the anchor for my first book, The Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and Other Short Stories, and I believed he was worthy of a full novel treatment. The problem was what to write about? Pastoral lives are usually a little more sedate and predictable than would make for good reading. I kept searching for just the write plot and characters to throw Butch Gregory in with, but it kept alluding me.
Finally, inspiration came and I got an idea.
The idea came in two parts. The first part was quite serendipitous. My family and I were driving across the west and as we passed through the state of Wyoming I simply said aloud, “Wyoming would make a great name for a character.” Before we were out of the state I had outlined in my mind most of his character, including his curly hair and ball cap, war record and even his distinctive slow speech pattern. I had a new character to play with Pastor Butch Gregory, but I didn’t have a plot.
That came a bit later as I, along with a lot of people, learned about the tragedy of child sex trafficking. Each year 800,000 children are reported missing in the United States. Many of them are forced into prostitution or some other sex trade industry. Worldwide the problem is even more staggering as entire economies are based upon human trafficking. The more I studied it the more convinced I became that I should do something. As a writer, the best work I could do was to write about it and hopefully make a difference.
So now I had a new character and a cause that motivated me. I also wanted to write a book that men would enjoy, and I felt the best way to do that was to create a strong woman with a bit of mystery. I know that is counter intuitive, but I think it is true. Well written female characters interacting with male characters are enjoyable for men to read. I already had the character “Amber” from my previous book, so I brought her into the narrative as an equal partner with the two men.
From there, I worked out the major plotlines and made some important decisions about the book that energized me personally. One of those decisions was to throw it out into the geography of the entire West. Wyoming Wallace’s character had been born ‘on the road’ so I decided to move the setting around. Most novels tend to center around one town, one house, one village or one farm but I wanted this novel to sprawl. One day an image came to my mind of a concrete truck, the kind that constantly turns to keep the concrete from becoming hard, and it became etched in my thoughts. The longer I thought about the truck I noticed it was sitting abandoned in a desert near a dilapidated trailer home. Where was that place? I knew where it was. It had to be Nevada.
It was also important for me to put some of the action in the cities. Two important scenes take place in Tacoma and Seattle. I love writing about Seattle, it is such a beautiful city, but I had a dirty story to tell. A great deal of sex trafficking moves through cities and Seattle is no exception. These places tend to be destinations where anonymous girls from all over the country end up in strange cities with promises of becoming a star or famous if they just do what they’re told.
There was one more thing I wanted in the story, and that was a sense of the supernatural. As long as everyone understands that this is fiction, it seems fair game to me to play with supernatural elements mixed into the gritty world. That was when I came up with the idea of a poetic prophecy tucked away in a mundane file cabinet.
As these elements came together, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of putting the story together. In many regards it told itself. I finished the story while away on a writing retreat and when I did, the ending was so traumatic and sad for me that I sat and cried. That is when I knew that the story was something I wanted to share with other people.