By Pat Smith
---- — It’s a proud moment when you can go online at Barnes & Noble and see a book written by a young woman in your own community. Did you know that Diana Porter-Arnold has written a book? “The Initials,” takes place in a small town. Because Diana was born and raised in Greensburg and still lives in her home town, you might suspect right away that the small town she writes about in “The Initials” is Greensburg, or Westport or maybe Clarksburg. No. Diana said the book is strictly a work of fiction.
Diana is the daughter of Tom and Glenda Porter. She is the wife of Robert L. Arnold to whom she dedicated The Initials. She writes, “Finally, without a doubt I dedicate this book to my husband R. L. A. who inspired me to chase my dream and write and whose love, encouragement and enthusiasm is always a given. He illustrates my objective for this novel best…”
Did you notice the initials R. L. A.? That’s her clever way of showing right away what the book is about. On the dedication page she writes of friends L. L. P, R.B., B.B., C.H., K.H. and her parents G.J.P. and W. T. P. Her “ever present and much loved dog, Chili” is named without using her initials.
Of course, the initials she used notifies us right away about the subject of the book; friendships that continue from childhood well into maturity. Think about that for a minute, especially if you are lucky enough to have had such friendships. These friends are people you know from experience that you can trust. These are friends with whom you’ve shared life’s journeys including times of joy and times of gloom.
From the earliest memories she has, Diana has always used our library. When you read a book from our library there is a label in front that you can initial signifying that you read it. Young Emma Anne Finnegan was a reader. She loved books but sometimes she felt lonely too. At the library she would choose a book, look at the initials of others that had read it and wonder about the others that had read the book. While trying to determine who had initialed some of the books she enjoyed she made discoveries. Soon she had made friends that would last a lifetime.
Diana said that this is a time in her life when she is focusing on the positives that come from celebrating our lives with friends. She was my guest at our Friendship and Talent group at the First Presbyterian Church a couple of weeks ago. I noticed something about her that is, well maybe, a bit unusual in today’s busy world. She actually listened when someone was talking with her. That’s a marvelous trait and, I would think, a near necessary one for a writer. And indeed, she said afterwards, “I think I found some stories from that meeting for a possible next book! Small towns help friendships evolve and stay intact.”
So maybe some of us will be in her next book but I think I understand what she is talking about. She will take a little from one person, perhaps a gesture or the way someone speaks, and add that to a little bit of someone else and so on and so on. So what is written is certainly fiction but bits and pieces of everything that the writer has experienced in her lifetime may be used. She said that some people have been sure they recognized someone in “The Initials,” but it isn’t possible.
Diana graduated from Ball State and said she was recently contacted by BSU friends she hadn’t seen in 20 plus years. She said, “They held a get-together for me at one of my friend’s house’s in Indy. They each bought a copy of my book and we talked about the good times we shared during our college years! They were all excited about my book and the book brought us all back together as it has done for several groups of friends.” She said she gets emails from people who have reunited with their friends since reading The Initials! She is grateful for the compliments. She has also heard from several people who read it and then call wanting to purchase a signed copy for their group of friends. The $12.95 book does make a charming gift.
Did you think I’d tell you the ending of The Initials? No! I won’t tell you what happens when the friendships, which began as a desire for acceptance, “changed and crossed over into a new realm of security and safety.” You can email Diana at Diana.firstname.lastname@example.org to order a signed copy or you can order it on Amazone.com.