In each book an author must choose how best to tell the tale. Any character will tilt a story in his or her own unique direction. If I had wanted to tell Bayard’s story, the book would still have been about The Dust Bowl but it would have felt and sounded quite different. The emotional landscape would have been Pa’s: his feelings, his wants, his needs. Though there would have been some overlap, for the most part the things Bayard Kelby noticed and cared about would have had little in common with the things that mattered to Billie Jo.
It has always been the experience of the child, the victim of undeserved circumstances, the voiceless and powerless that stirs my writing. I like the challenge of narrating a complicated story from a child’s perspective. It demands of me to stay true to the voice of the narrator while conveying to the reader everything necessary to understand what is going on superficially in the book and between the lines.
I never considered telling this story from any other character’s perspective. It was Billie Jo I most cared about. It was her story I was most interested in telling.