February 10, 2013

Stories of Kentucky-Tonya Callihan's Version of History and Beauty

I grew up in a simple town filled with not so simple imaginations. My family is Irish therefore we are full of storytellers. I haven’t had the luck to visit Ireland, but I am told Kentucky, especially Eastern Kentucky looks a lot like Ireland. My family tells me that’s one of the main reasons our family decided to place roots here.

Kentucky is known for many things, horse park, whiskey, UK Basketball, hillbillies--the misconception that we have no electric and the girls are barefoot, pregnant with a baby on their hip in the kitchen. Oh, and my favorite is the grass really blue?
For those who are wondering…yes we have electric and no we’re not all pregnant in the kitchen. I have been told that at times the grass in some areas, with the sun hitting it just right looks blue, but it’s mostly green.

I grew up in a family who told stories, stories passed down of Ireland, stories based on life experience and events and stories made up on a whim at family dinners. So, it only seemed natural that I took up the tradition as well.
My granny tells everyone that I was writing stories long before I could write. I would draw pictures and try to tell a story that went along with those pictures. As I grew older my granny bought me a journal. She told me that young ladies had to mind their manners and what they said. She told me that I should write down my thoughts, express my feelings, tell my stories. Each journal I filled she would buy it from me with a new journal. I mainly wrote poems, stories that made no sense, my dreams, about my day, things that I think all little girls wrote about.
It wasn’t until I was 13 that I took writing seriously. I read a book, Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. It was the first book I had read outside of school.
I fell in love.
With storytelling, romance, Nora Roberts. And I thought ‘I can do this. I immediately pulled out a journal, I collect them to this day, and began to write my story. It was titled ‘I Can’t Be Friends, Anymore’. It was based on true life with a whole lot of fiction mixed in. It was terrible, absolutely terrible. But I tried, I attempted to follow my dream of becoming a published author. Now that story is tucked away somewhere for safe keeping, someplace I hope no one will ever find.
That was 13, almost 14 years ago. It took me almost that long to become a published author. But the important thing is I never gave up. I kept writing, I kept striving to follow my dreams. 

Thanks so much for stopping by and hearing a little about my state and my writing. You can find out more about me and my writing at the following places:


  1. Unfortunately, my only experience with Kentucky is a view from the I-75 driving through, never stopping to look and see in depth what the state has to offer. I think what most people know about Kentucky (myself included) is the famous (or infamous) Hazard County...made even more famous now because of Justified...one my favorite TV shows!

    Thanks for talking about your early writing endeavors.

  2. It was so interesting to read about your Kentucky life. My granddaughter was born in the State so I am always interested to know about all that goes on.

    I often wondered about the blue grass, thanks for explaining.
    Of course horses are important too, aren't they?

    Lots of luck with your writing career.

  3. This blog caught my attention since I am a native of KY also. I live in the far western part, the lakes area, and I wear shoes, am not pregnant, and don't chew tobacco. Also I can read and write. I wish you success with your books. Linda

  4. It's so nice to have family stories and cultural tales to tell. Lots of luck with your romance novels.

  5. Kentucky is a fascinating state. Thanks for sharing.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  6. My late Dad was from Scotland and he once told me that while watching a program on PBS about the evolution of the English language, he discovered that the singular accent of English spoken by folks in the Bluegrass area, folks of Scottish-Irish extraction, is due to their ancestors bringing their Irish and Scottish dialects with them, to settle in an area with hills and lakes that reminded them of the home they'd left behind. He said the fiddles playing reels for dancing, are very similar to the folk music he grew up with. Also the food can be similar, and the stock image of the still out back comes directly from the Scottish-Irish heritage.

    There's an old joke about when Germans move into an area, first they build a barn for the animals. When English move into an area first they build a house. When Scots-Irish move in, first they put up a still to make whiskey, then they look around while drinking it, to ask where they're gonna sleep!

    Thanks for sharing your pride in your state. I was at the Derby once in college, riding down there on a motorcycle with my then boyfriend, but after the first coupla mint julips, I have no memory of there being any kind of horse race!

  7. I am a horse lover, and have always wanted to see the Kentucky Derby. Like someone above, my fave TV show is Justified, set in Harlan county.

  8. Oops...my bad! D'Ann is right. Justified is set in Harlan County, not Hazard county. I must have had Dukes of Hazard on my mind! Not that that is all bad...but still.

  9. Boy, this sure rings a bell with me. My ancestors were a mix of Irish and Cherokee Indian, and my parents came from southeast kentucky -- the Knott County area -- before moving to Indiana. Beautiful country!


Follow 50 Authors from 50 States blog for the latest