Sorry to have been away so long, but on October 6 it was such a lovely day I decided to take my son's horse for a ride. Long story short - he spooked and we went over with him landing on me. I ended up with spinal fractures. This has given me a lot of time to think - laying flat on your back in bed does that - and to work. To that end I came up with a fun character interview for Scott Reneau and Michelle Butler from The Watermelon Riot - pending publication at Red Rose Publishing.
Author: I thought it would be interesting to turn the tables on a local reporter, Michelle Butler, notably since she recently won the crown of Watermelon Queen. Hello Michelle, thanks for joining us today.
Michelle Butler: Hello, it's nice to be here. (She looks distinctly uncomfortable in her chair, idly braiding a long tress of golden blond hair.) But you can call me Shelley, most of the folks in Gallatin know me that way.
Shelley: Arkansas, sorry, I forgot, not everyone knows where my Gallatin is located. Rural farm towns aren't as recognizable as Los Angeles.
Author: Oh, I see. Since you mentioned Los Angeles, I had heard you had an exciting childhood going between Arkansas and the City of Angels.
Shelley: (Squirms in her chair abandoning her hair to tug at the hemline of her shorts.) Yes, well, my parents have a bit of their own notoriety. I was blessed as a child, having the solid foundation of a quiet home like Gallatin and joining my parents over summer break in the big city of Los Angeles.
Author: Didn't you decide at one time to work with them?
Shelley: You could say that. (Small nervous laugh.) I did work as a script writer on one of the more popular daytime soaps – I was just one of many talented writers – but yes, you could say I worked with them. In the industry, not on their projects, I didn't aim that high.
Author: What made you decide to come home and exchange the glitter of a Hollywood set for local news?
Scott Reneau: Hey, I wondered where you wandered off to. (Drops a kiss on Ms. Butler's temple as he sits beside her on the wooden bench.) Hope I'm not intruding.
Author: No, not at all, I was just asking Shelley what inspired her to leave –
Scott: As someone who did the same thing, left a big city for a small town I can give you a reason. (He puts a comforting arm around Ms. Butler.) Family.
Author: Ms. Butler does have family in Los Angeles.
Scott: And she has family here too, have you met Adele and Gus Strahan? They're the grandparents who helped raise her. (Across the park the gimlet gaze of Adele Strahan manages to quell even this determined interviewer. Gus just laughs and picks a tune on his beloved banjo.)
Author: Thank you, but I've met both.
Scott: They are a well matched pair aren't they? (At ease, he shakes his over-long brown hair back out of his eyes with a sleepy expression of having won something special…thinking of winning.)
Author: How does it feel to be crowned this year's Watermelon Queen?
Shelley: To be honest, I feel kind of silly (her bright pink cheeks betray the truth of her admission.), normally the Queen is a much younger woman.
Scott: Now, you know that is totally untrue Michelle. Didn't your own great-grandmother win the title back in 1927 and she was considered on the shelf at the time. (He taps a folded piece of paper Ms. Butler clutched between her fingers.)
Shelley: (laughs) Okay, you got me there, but I think the vote this year was loaded. (She leans forward with a conspiratorial wink) Grandpa Gus always said I was a throwback in the looks department to his momma, the original Watermelon Queen.
Author: What can you tell me about your great-grandmother?
Shelley: Marietta Gillett was a woman who knew what she wanted and went after him. (She clears her throat with a strangled laugh.) Her momma was dead set against Mari having anything to do with the original Fergus Strahan, but when she set her cap for the man…well, he didn't have eyes for any other.
Scott: That is the way love at first sight is supposed to work. (He gives Shelley a loving but determined look.)
Author: Wasn't there a bit of a scandal involving your grandfather over Marietta Gillett?
Scott: Yes, there was, they were at the heart of the Watermelon Riot of 1927. Instead of asking anymore questions, maybe you should pick up a copy of the story. Shelley and I have to be getting back to our booth, her melons do sell themselves (he leers at Shelley, making her laugh) but someone has to be there to collect the money.
Shelley: (As she gets up and wanders off with Scott holding his hand.) You big fibber, we're down to the last melon and you told me not to sell it, that you had plans for it.
Scott: Ssshhh…(casts a last look and wink over his shoulder) I do and time is wasting woman.
And that concludes the interview between Scott and Michelle. Would anyone like to read similar interviews with other characters? Drop me a note and let me know.