I am a hoarder. Yes, I admit it. I am keeper of the family letters and a treasure trove of family stories I heard in my youth. I have gathered names, dates, documents, baptisms, marriages, names and the history of places, people. I have visited libraries and cemeteries, delved over bibles, and talked to the who were there who are left. However, this information means nothing if I cannot find a way to pass it on to the next generation. Writing about a past one didn’t live in requires research, broad understanding of the times, and being creative with the intimate details of ancestors I’ve never met. And in the end it in’t marketability that is most important, it comes down to questions like, does the story make sense, does the reader care about the characters, is the reader anxious for the story to continue in the next chapter…and for me one last question, is the reader learning textually about the past at the same time as he hears the story about the trials and tribulations one family. Historical narrative is storytelling in a historical context and thus, both the context and the story are important.
So I’m Showing My Hand, my first foray into historical narrative was a short story called, “Come Home, Peter.” The time was 1930 and very beginning of the depression. The location is Woodstock, Illinois and my grandparents home. Things had been rolling along pretty well for the family, but then their son-in-law is diagnosed with TB and the world is turned topsy turvy. See Family Stories from the Attic .
This site is going to document my journey into my family legends and as a companion to my books beginning with Ida’s Family (working title). Here those interested can find pictures of the characters, additional information about writing historical narrative, and bios of people and places touched by my story. The picture at the top of the page is of Lincoln Avenue in Woodstock, Illinois circa 1905. Ida and John’s new house is the first one on the left….365 Lincoln Avenue. Their home was close to downtown and his grocery with a second child on the way, it was their respite from a world of progress.
I’m having a great time….hope you do to!