Inspiration, caught – Ava Finch

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By Ava Finch

I’ve been asked what inspired me to set my novel on a fishing program – and why on public television? Admittedly an incongruous pairing. Pro-sport fishing and the ‘educational channel’ are chalk and cheese, as RayAnne’s Gran Dot would say. I love unexpected juxtapositions, like Nascar and homeopathy. Under ‘D’ in my ‘plots’ folder is Dysfunctional family of Civil War re-enactors. Placing characters in awkward situations or throwing a wrench into the works reveals their best and worst, tests their mettle.♥

First thoughts of Fishing With RayAnne began in a boat. Quite a few years ago I used to fish with my grown niece, nearly my own age and like a sister in more ways than one. To avoid the before-supper bustle in the family cabin, we’d zoom off in my dad’s fishing boat, moored as a floating memento mori at my sister’s dock. So there was this old boat that had some meaning for us, and when out on the lake we were out of range of family and kids, and because we were our fathers’ daughters and Minnesota girls, there was usually a few cold beers on board.

We had authentic conversations out there on the water. One day, bobbing along, I mused aloud about recording women talking on a boat. It was around the time Satellite Sisters was on NPR, a show where four sisters just talked. I never thought of the notion as writing material, just that it was a fun idea for a show – a no-brainer, as one of the eager producers on Fishing claims.

Also, frankly, I had a bit of an agenda – having RayAnne land on public television fresh from the misogynistic world of pro-sport fishing arouses her feminist mindset. Safe to say all three generations of the Dahl women are feminists, but it’s dawning on RayAnne that many of her contemporaries shrug off the war on women as if it will blow over – equal rights seem to have been their mothers’ issue. But it’s 2015, and we’re fighting to keep Planned Parenthood! I’ve witnessed marriage ceremonies in which wedded couples are pronounced Man and Wife, with wife – educated, often professional young women – blithely giving up their names ( ahem, identities) because that’s the way we’ve always done it. RayAnne wouldn’t be as preachy, but would ask viewers to imagine how the line at the DMV might look if the worm turned, then she’d suggest they make up their own minds.

Setting the novel on a show allowed for other characters – the ones always popping up in my head – to pop up in guest appearances. Maybe the show will get renewed again – maybe more seasons of Fishing With RayAnne might mean more books? It’s hard to put the Dahl family to rest – maybe their story isn’t over.

So, while I didn’t know it then, I arrived at the idea of a fishing talk show, one hosted by a character in transition – as I had my own struggles (and loss) and often found myself at the sorts of crossroads RayAnne winds up. Maybe the rocking of the boat was calming; the purr of the trolling motor soothing – the Pilsner Uquell probably helped, and the fresh breeze usually blew the tell-tale cigarette smoke from our hair by the time we docked.

Maybe there is something about being on the water.

Ava Finch was born in Sechelt, British Columbia, and now makes her home in Minneapolis. When not writing, she hikes with her dog, ties flies, and collects vintage lures and outdoor magazines. Her current secret fishing spot is a stream running from the Laurentian Divide to Lake Superior. Connect with her on Twitter at @ava_finch.

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