As I mentioned before, The Kings of Charleston, started as a short story assignment given by my English teacher, Ms. Chafin, my junior year of high school. Ms. Chafin was one of those teachers that was terrifying and amazing all at the same time. She expected a lot from her students, but in the same respect she gave a lot as well. I can still remember her asking me to read the first paragraph of my short story in front of the class. I was always the quiet one, and scared that everyone would hate it, but Ms. Chafin liked it. In fact after I turned the assignment in and she graded it, she told me she loved it and asked if she could keep it and use it in other classes as an example. What?! I was floored.
I think that’s part of the reason the story always stuck with me and why I believed in it’s potential. Ms. Chafin’s opinion mattered to me and if she liked the story, then it was worth hanging on to it.
Sadly, Ms. Chafin passed away in February, 2011, before I had a chance to share with her what I had decided to do with the story I had written for her class and what an inspiration she had been for me. Every time I thought I couldn’t truly write the story into a full book, I thought about Ms. Chafin. She was the invisible encouragement that kept me going. Thank you Ms. Chafin, and thank you to all the English teachers who expect so much from their students and who give them even more.