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Posts: 22
Registered: ‎05-22-2007
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A Welcome from Paulette Jiles

[ Edited ]

A Welcome from the Author

Doing researching for Stormy Weather was more difficult than it was for Enemy Women because I knew many people reading it would have personal memories of the 1930s. Yet, oddly, there is very little written about the Depression. I found a good many personal memoirs online, however, and this was quite helpful and also distracting because I couldn't stop reading them and one led to another. I like personal memoirs -- I like the unaffected and straightforward language.

I did quite a lot of traveling around Texas to speak with cable-tool drillers and match-racing enthusiasts. Match-racing is when two horses are matched one-on-one, almost always for a quarter of a mile, and it has been popular in Texas for 150 years; before that it was the only form of horse racing since Colonial times.

Match-racing died out in the rest of the United States with the inception of longer races and the importation of thoroughbreds. The most well-known match race was when Seabiscuit was matched against War Admiral, but that was a rarity. The one-on-one quarter-mile match race held on in Texas and is still popular in an underground kind of way.

I spoke with a man who had matched his Quarter Horse stallion against a Mexican stallion on a $20,000 bet in 1979. The race took place in a field in McAllen, Texas, a few miles from the Rio Grande. The Texas horse won by a length. That was $20,000 riding on a 22-second race. There is more to that story but I couldn't use it in Stormy Weather, unfortunately.

What may be confusing is that the older Texas horses were often named for their owners -- Peter McCue, Joe Hancock, Harmon Baker, etc., but I hope it is clear within the context of the novel that these are horses and not people.

There are not many cable-tool drillers still operating but I found two, and went to a drill site where a cable-tool was being used to drill a water-well. It took me a while to understand the difference between a rotary and a cable-tool but once I had seen a cable-tool operate, and had gone to the Petroleum Museum in Midland, in far West Texas, it was all very clear. In fact, looking into the mechanics of drilling in the 1030s was fascinating, and I became quite caught up in it. Modern drilling is quite different and harder to understand, but I didn't need that information for this book and had to stop somewhere.

Writing about human beings and their own interior weather and their own interior underground pressures -- the race against disaster -- is, of course, a different matter. But the above served me well as metaphors.

Paulette Jiles

Message Edited by Amanda_R on 06-06-2007 10:33 AM

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Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: A Welcome from Paulette Jiles

Thank you for this introduction. It explained a lot about the novel and its details. Now that you mentioned Seabiscuit, I now have an image in my mind having read the book and having seen that movie. I love the details about how the horses were named and the drilling url. Thank you for the explanations and I am enjoying the novel.

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