My name is Anna K. Sargent but that is my pen name. Other people know me as Kathy Sargent, which is my journalism byline. Friends call me by both names. My mother called me Kathryn and my father called me Tina. Confused? So am I. Identity is a mystery to me. That is why all three of my novels are about identity. My books may be romantic historical fiction set in Texas’s colorful past, but they are really about who we are and how we know who we are.
Some people discover their authentic selves through therapy, others through art and music. A fortunate few know who they are from the moment they take their first breath. I found myself through writing and studying the place where I live. Lucky for me, Texas has an amazing history, full of characters and adventure and extremes of weather and landscape. How people dealt with this place — and how they still deal with it — that’s the interesting part. I am Texan through and through and part of every person, battle, tall tale, and twist of history that led us to where we are.
My fellow Texan, John Graves, who wrote the award-winning “Goodbye to a River,” speaks eloquently about the reason for knowing one’s roots.
“If a man couldn’t escape what he came from, we would most of us still be peasants in Old World hovels. But if, having escaped or not, he wants in some way to know himself, define himself, and tries to do it without taking into account the thing he came from, he is writing without any ink in his pen.”
I grew up on the great high plains of Texas, far up on heaven’s tableland, a place so flat and empty, you can see the curvature of the earth. For reasons only God knows, it’s also a place that fosters an independent mindset and a creative spirit. Many great artists, writers and musicians come from there. I aspire to be one of them. Sadly, few of them stay. It’s just too hard. Most of us drifted south to softer, more lush climes. For me, it was Austin and that’s where I’ve been.
I worked as a journalist for years. Then one day, life “threw a craving on me,” as we say in Texas. I wanted to write fiction. I was done with reporting and editing and page layout. I had acquired useful skills, but my spirit wanted to do what my spirit wanted to do. I wanted to write historical fiction because I love history and I love stories and I love Texas.