Fool's Puzzle
Earlene Fowler

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Benni Harper

About Fool's Puzzle

      I had written short stories off and on for about ten years without being published.   I decided on a whim in January of 1992 to take a novel writing class at Orange Coast College, a community college in Costa Mesa, California.   I wrote the first chapter as part of the class assignment and it was really bad.   I read all the criticisms of the other members of the class as well as the teacher and finished all but two chapters during the summer while working part time at the Huntington Beach Library in the Children's Department.   I wrote half the book sitting in McDonald's, probably because I was used to working with children swarming around me.

        I took the novel workshop again in the fall, but the teacher had gone on sabbatical and was replaced by Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Hank and Chloe and Blue Rodeo.   I turned in my revised first chapter as part of the first assignment and she asked me to stay after class.   She then asked me how much of this book I had done.   I told her I was almost finished.   She told me she'd like to read it when it was done.   I was really excited about that.   It was the first time anyone had shown an interest in my work.   She read it in two days and told me that she thought it was marketable.   She had me add to some sections and helped me draft a cover letter and proposal to her New York agent, Deborah Schneider.   Deborah agreed to read it on Jo-Ann's recommendation.   It took her a few days to get to it, but she read it one night on the train ride home.   She messengered it out to Putnam-Berkley and within a week, I had a three-book contract for the series.

      This is the Rios-Caledonia adobe in San Miguel, California.   It is down the street from the San Miguel Mission.   San Miguel is in the northern part of San Luis Obispo county in California.   This adobe was the inspiration for the Josiah Sinclair Folk Art Museum in my books.

     This is a picture of me and my real Arkansas gramma.   Her name was Muriel Sue Webb Phillips.   Her maiden name was Harper.  (Yes, that's where I got Benni's last name.)   Dove has a lot of my Gramma Webb's characteristics (we call her Gramma Webb because that was her first husband's name...my mother's father).   She was tenacious, strong, stubborn, loyal and had a great sense of humor.   This picture was taken in March 2000.   She was 95 years old.  She passed away a year later.

     My husband and I visited her and took her out to a Cracker Barrel restaurant (one of her favorites) where we both had fried chicken and blackberry cobbler.   We used to love it as children when she came to visit us because she has always believed in eating your dessert first.   Her favorite colors were purple and red and she has no compunction about wearing them together.

    Here's a picture of the old county courthouse in San Luis Obispo.   There's a new section right next door but this one is still in use.  It's right downtown across next to the San Luis Obispo library.

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