I grew up in the American South and was surrounded by women who were beautifully described by Florence King in Southern Ladies and Gentlemen as “required to be frigid, passionate, sweet, bitchy and scatterbrained – all at the same time. Her problems spring from the fact that she succeeds.” As I was born in the late 1960s and began to see how people acted in the 1970s (Goodbye 70s), I was aware that this Old South ideal of women was clashing very hard with reality, especially the raging Feminism all around me. I knew Old South men who dismissed Feminism as “ugly women ganging up to snatch what is not theirs.” What I saw was something very different.
While I knew that I would be writing about strong Southern women in my first two novels, the issues those characters faced were far different from what I expected. Stockard Griffin, one of two main characters in A Particular Obedience, explores morality through sex and eventually finds that morality, which governs power, love, everything, is a very individual thing and certainly not dictated by church nor society. This was not consciously planned.