I’d always wanted to be a writer. I grew up in New Orleans and in a beautiful little town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast called Pass Christian. My childhood was a happy one, but it was full of…well, cockroaches. Big cockroaches. The kind that were crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The kind that made you worry about putting your foot on the floor if you got out of bed in the middle of the night. And skittered when you turned on a light. And made you scream and flee.
Pest control wasn’t very good in those days, so my grandmother dealt with the roach situation by naming them. She called them all “Maybelle” and made up funny stories about Maybelle and her cockroach’s eye view of human nature. After hearing those stories, I still screamed and fled when the Maybelles skittered, but I laughed, too.
Years later, I told my own little girl Maybelle stories. She spent the next decade of her life pestering me to write the stories down. I’d always wanted be a writer. But wanting to be a writer and writing are different things.
I was so afraid to fail at the one thing I really wanted to do that my daughter was in college before I finally got up the courage to try it. I snuck up on the process by writing on three-by-five index cards to avoid large, empty expanses. The end result was “Maybelle in the Soup.”
My grandmother and I were very close. As she got older, she often said she wished she had something to leave me. She did, of course. She left me Maybelle. I’m passing her on.
The author now lives in Kansas City, Mo., with a husband, two cats and some bugs. Her beloved, relentless daughter is in California.