Yes, it is real, well sort of.
Growing up, I loved Mayberry, after all I was about the same age as Opie and his adventures were a lot like mine. My sisters and I played in the woods, we fished, we got into trouble -er, adventures. And Opie had the one magical element I craved, a wonderful Dad. My dad was forced into marriage by one of the girls he got into trouble. He had the whole James dean rebel thing going for him and it wasn’t working out very well. So, Sheriff Andy was my fantasy Dad.
When my partner got a job in Mount Airy, I did what any red-blooded girl does in 2003, I Googled it. I then jumped up and down and giggled and squealed: “We are F*cking moving to Mayberry!” My then boyfriend smiled and shrugged, he’s a man of few words -I make up for him!
I can not describe what moving to Mount Airy was like for a girl who considers Boston home. It was simultaneously bat-shit crazy and ethereal. The prefect combination of elements for a writer. The next seven years consisted of me being baptized into Mayberry World. I was dunked into a world of religions I never knew existed, people who were terrified of Post 9/11 and characters I could not have made up. Also, people I loved like family. Eventually, we moved south to the town that Andy Griffith hinted was the basis of Mayberry, Pilot Mountain. It makes more sense, it’s the right size, more rural and the people even more provincial.
I have had a lot of interest in my book pitching it to agents and editors, the last two pointed out holes in my plot, so I’ve been busy word-spackling. But, until my books find a way to a reader’s hands, I have decided to honor the inspiration of this part of North Carolina.
Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain are located in Surry County, which is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway cuts through a western corner. This puts us in Appalachia, a cultural region of the Eastern United States. People in this region share a distinct unity separate from the states they reside. This means a person from the mountains of Pennsylvia has more in common with a person from the mountains of North Carolina than they do with Philadelphia. My first husband was from the Appalachia region of Pennsylvania, the only county in fact, was so isolated, no railroads ever encroached their borders. So, moving to Surry County NC, I discovered a people more familiar to me than those living in Raleigh or Wilmington.
So, for the time being this blog will explore and share this unique and wonderful part of our country!