Robert Morgan - A Note to Readers
When I began writing Gap Creek I knew I wanted to tell a story loosely
based on the first year of marriage of my maternal grandparents. They had gotten
married about a hundred years before on Mount Olivet and moved down to Gap Creek
in South Carolina. I knew them as elderly people when I was very young. Grandma,
who kept me during the day while my mother worked in the cotton mill, died when
I was three. I wanted to tell a story about a woman like her, who did heavy
men's work on the farm, and spent her life working for others, for her sisters
and her husband, her children and grandchildren, the sick and needy of the
I tell my students that you do not write living fiction by attempting to
transcribe actual events onto the page. You create a sense of real characters
and a real story by putting down one vivid detail, one exact phrase, at a time.
The fiction is imagined, but if it is done well, it seems absolutely true, as
real as the world around us.
The hardest work I did on Gap Creek was trying to get the voice right.
Julie, who tells her own story, is not well educated and is not much of a
talker. In fact, she feels inarticulate. She feels she expresses herself best
with her hands, with her work. The trick was to create a plain voice, with
simple, direct sentences, that could express the complex emotions and intimacy
of marriage, even poetic experience. When I finally heard that voice in my mind
I was able to write the novel rather quickly.