Monday, September 13, 2010
Stranger Than Fiction - writing the truth with a twist
Well, what if it is? Or at least, what if someone in your past, your family history, is telling a story about their lives and it’s too amazing to imagine.
That’s what happened to me about eight years ago – and sparked the creation of several of my novels.
Family history. Truly – stranger than fiction.
As a product of the unique culture of Appalachia, I benefited from a granny who kept a long oral history. I can tell you stories of my ancestors that go back about seven generations, a few maybe longer. And I’ve taken those tales, those memories, and incorporated them into various novels I’ve written or am writing.
here), takes the idea of a young woman searching for the mystery her ancestry and makes it into a fun adventure of romance, discovery, and second chances.
So, how can you discover the stories of your past?
First of all, I suggest you write down the stories of the present. We get so busy that we forget our stories might be interesting someday, and because we have a tendency to forget various parts of the story, we should jot it down along the way. Keeping a journal is a fantastic way to do this.
For example, just a few years ago I had one of those HILARIOUSLY unbelievable moments happen to me. I’d been kind of depressed about some things for a few weeks and was driving to work and praying (as a mom of 5 that’s about the only time I have to be alone ;-) About five minutes into my drive I felt something on my leg. I reached down to swipe it off and felt…FUR. Then the ‘whatever’ scuttled up my leg to my knee. When I glanced down I saw a MOUSE sitting on my KNEE!!!!!
NEXT, Find old…er….well-seasoned people in your family and spend TIME with them. Stories and culture comes from starting a conversation. I’ve been taking notes on my granny’s stories for fifteen years. The tales of her life in Appalachia, being raised by an unpredictable alcoholic father and strong-spirited mother are the inspiration for my YA WWII historical series – kind of like a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Little Women set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Va.
(The picture to the left is Peveril Castle Keep in Castelton, Derbyshire, UK - my ancestor, William Peveril built it in the 12th century)
Genealogy sites are great, but the REAL stories come from PEOPLE. It’s not just about dates and names, the people become three-dimensional when you have a flesh-and-blood person recounting the tale. The REAL challenge is finding the right people.
Do you have some stories in your family’s past that are stranger than fiction? Ones that would be the start of a great book? Or maybe some that have INSPIRED a novel you've already written?
Share with us.