I don't have good memories of growing up. Seems like I knew a lot of ugly stuff when I shouldn't. The only two things I remember as beautiful were my mom and this riverbank. And until I knew better I thought they'd named the river after my mom.
The man who lived in our trailer was always angry. Always smoking. Don't know why. He lit one cigarette with the glow-plug end of the other. Touched them like sparklers. They matched his eyes. He never hit me, least not very hard, but his mouth hurt my ears. Mom said it was the devil in the bottle, but I don't think you drink meanness. You can try to drown it, but, in my experience, it's a pretty good swimmer. That's why it's in the bottle. To escape it, she and I, we came here. She told me it'd help my asthma. I knew better. Dying was about the only thing that'd help my asthma.
Somewhere in 2007, I met a husband and wife who lost a daughter to cancer. As I stood, staring at her grave, her father’s tears soaking the ground next to me, I realized that she—a beautiful mother—and I were the same age. Something about the cruelty of that struck me deeply. I later learned that her husband had couriered divorce papers to her hospital room shortly before she died. That struck me deeper. Still does.
A few weeks later, paddling the St. Mary’s River in my kayak, this story bubbled up. Hence, the setting. I remember gliding across the top of the water, the sun just breaking the skyline, and asking the question, “What about the guy who doesn’t do that? What about the guy who hangs on? Who loves her even when she’s bald and flat-chested?” As I began putting words to paper, I found myself crafting a patchwork threaded with both beauty and pain. The result is my new novel, Where the River Ends, and yes, parts of this story are painful, but I’ve found the beauty outweighs the pain.
Readers often ask me whey I write the stories I do. “Why these themes?” As I get older (I’m 38) and life dings me more, I wake up to find that hard places, sort of like fish scales, have calloused my insides. Mainly my heart. I’m not alone in this. At the end of the day, I hope my stories circumnavigate the hard places and touch what is still tender. Cause someone to feel something they haven’t felt, love in a way they had forgotten or hope for something that pain had caused them to scratch off their list. If I can do this, then I will have done what I set out to do. And if I’m really honest, I do this as much to reawaken the numb places in me as in other people.
Thank you for the invaluable role you play in the life of this story.
All the best,
Martin brings to life the varying flora & fauna of this often fraught journey, while he captures the singular atmosphere of life on a changeable river as it traverses through varying Georgian and Floridian terrain. In the tradition of Nicholas Sparks & Robert James Waller, Martin has fashioned a heartbreaking story.
Lovers of love stories, get ready to cry you a 'River'.