I was raised in a little church, the Grundy Methodist Church, that was very straight-laced, but I had a friend whose mother spoke in tongues. I was just wild for this family. My own parents were older, and they were so over-protective. I just loved the 'letting go' that would happen when I went to church with my friend.
I think as the world changes, we have to keep up. We have to note what is happening, and I think writing has always had a powerful corrective influence and possibility. We have to write about what's good, and we also have to write about parts of our culture that are not good, that are not working out. I think it takes a new eye.
Born Virginia Marshall but nicknamed Gig, my mother was a home economics teacher who had come all the way across the whole state of Virginia, from her home on the Eastern Shore to our little Appalachian coal town to marry my daddy, Ernest Smith, whose family had lived in these mountains for generations.
Certainly I was a very religious child, a deeply weird and very emotional child, an only child with lots of imaginary friends and a very active imagination. I loved Sunday school and Bible camp and all that. I had my own white Bible with Jesus' words printed in red in the text; I even spoke at youth revivals.