Bren McClain is the author of the novel One Good Mama Bone. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for One Good Mama Bone?--Marshal Zeringue
A: Let’s go back to a hot summer’s night in 1994 in Atlanta, Georgia, when a neighbor called me over to his porch to tell me about a secret he’d been carrying around since he was 6 years old. He had turned 60 that day.
He proceeded to tell me about a night in Alabama when his mother woke him from sleep and summoned him to the kitchen, where he was made to witness an atrocity. He said he was telling me, knowing, “You’re a writer.” I carried that story around with me for years and then wrote a novel around it. A failed novel.
Then, in 2007, I was visiting my father’s farm in Anderson, S.C., only to be awakened in the night by sounds that drew me outside to a gathering of mama cows, huddled in the corner of a barbed wire fence.
I would come to know that their babies had been weaned from them the afternoon before. These mamas were calling for them, deep guttural calls, which seeped into my bones and made me think of my failed novel, what I had hoped to be a celebration of motherhood, but I had not pulled that off.
There, in front of me, with these mama cows, lay the missing piece. The mama cow in the center had her eyes cut hard at me. I told her I could not bring her baby back, but I could...[read on]