The Story Behind the Stories: The cemetery setting in “Clovis Clementine” from God’s Naked Will

15 Feb

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“…He sees his screams and their echoes bouncing off the trees and tombstones of the cemetery like steel marbles that bounce off in all directions after being dropped on a concrete floor.”Image

ImageImageThe slough flows just inside the woods beyond the tombstones, just like in “Clovis Clementine. “They actually performed baptisms at the slough in the story.ImageThe slough flows just beyond the woods. Again, this is just like Lamm’s Chapel Cemetery in the story of “Clovis Clementine.”

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“…The small summit fell away to the east and south, and the markers of the graves dotted the easy slope of the hillside.” Image

The slough flowed around the south end of the cemetery before looping back north through these low-land woods.Image

The slough lies just beyond sight in the woods marking the boundary of the cemetery.Image

The Story Behind the Stories: The Cemetery Setting for Clovis Clementine


Many times when I create a setting it is based upon a place I have already visited. For instance, in the story “Stud fee” from the book God’s Naked Will the characters are on top of Mt. Nebo in the state park of the same name near Dardanelle, Arkansas. I had visited MT. Nebo in the past and watched as the daredevils jumped from the mountain top strapped into the hang-gliders. I was fascinated by this and determined to write a story about them.

     In the story “Clovis Clementine” I created a cemetery. I had an idea of what I wanted to describe, and I have even posted pictures on this blog in the past of the cemetery that inspired the location described in the story. Here is the description of the cemetery from “Clovis Clementine” as it appears in God’s Naked Will :

…Clovis diligently maintained the cemetery–mowing the grounds and trimming the grass around the trees and tombstones as needed. The Lamm’s Chapel Church and parsonage sat on the crest of the only hill in the bottoms. The small summit fell away to the east and south, and the markers of the graves dotted the easy slope of the hillside. There had been many floods and storms, and that always meant extra work for Clovis. The rising water always came from the bayou that flowed at the far northeastern end of the grounds where they held the baptism services, and no boundary existed there except the tree-line. Water flowed across the cemetery and back into the swamp, eventually dumping into the Blue Hole of the St. Frances River. The floods covered the lower half of the cemetery until the waters receded, flowing through the south end, leaving all types of tree limbs, old tires, and trash caught in the fence.

I have been searching for a cemetery where I could find water flowing within sight of the tombstones. This has been difficult to find because the fiasco described in the story has repeated itself so many times that cemeteries are now located on high ground. Of course, all high ground near flowing water is subject to being flooded. Yesterday while out driving a came upon the Hosea Cemetery up by Knobel, Arkansas, and I have never found a place that more perfectly fit my description of the cemetery in “Clovis Clementine.” I have included several of the pictures I took for this blog. At the south end, a slough ran east and west. It seemed to curve south a bit before looping around the southern end of the cemetery and flowing back to the north through the woods that marked the boundary of the cemetery. I took several pictures of the place, and the experience was magical, as I felt as if I had stepped into the world of one of my stories into a setting that I had created.
I believe it takes a sense of place like this for writers to create a setting so real that our own readers can experience that same feeling without being there. I realized standing there in that cemetery that the feelings I was experiencing were exactly the feelings my readers should have simply from the words. Then I became a bit discouraged. Was I in fact capable of creating such a vivid description of my settings that I could transport my readers away into the world I had created for them?
I knew I had a lot of work to do!

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2 Responses to “The Story Behind the Stories: The cemetery setting in “Clovis Clementine” from God’s Naked Will”

  1. Keith Yeung February 15, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    Very interesting. It is always nice to find inspiration from real life events and settings for written works. And no worries, from the passage you’ve shared, your descriptions appear to be quite rich and detailed as it is.

  2. mmacro February 17, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    This was such a fascinating insider view on your writing process and I was enthralled at how you visited the cemetery AFTER writing the description. Really evocative writing – thank you!

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