My mom had a collection of family memoirs dating back as far as the American Revolution. She always said she should write a book about our family’s history, but she never did. After she passed away, this collection came to me.
Funny thing: when I was growing up, the idea of sitting down and reading single-spaced transcriptions of old documents held no appeal. But later, as an empty-nester with time on my hands, I decided to skim through and see what my ancestors had to say.
Wow! I learned that my four times great-grandfather fought in the Revolution; one of his sons followed Stephen Austin to Texas as part of Austin’s original Three Hundred; one of his grandsons fought in the War between the States; and a great-granddaughter (my great-grandmother) traveled over the Oregon Trail to settle in the West. A minihistory of this country’s growth, if you will.
How could I not write this story? After several years spent verifying the information in the memoirs, I traveled to Kentucky, where my family settled in 1802, for more research. Then I sat down in front of my keyboard and wrote a narrative family history.
One thing bothered me, though. All the memoirs were written by men. What were their wives doing while the guys were out having adventures? That’s when I decided to turn memoirs into historical fiction and make women the main characters.
For example, the first book in Revell’s At Home in Beldon Grove series, The Edge of Light, was inspired by the life of one of my great-great-aunts. The second book in the series, The Promise of Morning, was inspired by my great-great-grandmother’s story. Some of what happens in the novels is true; quite a bit is fiction.
In every novel I write, however, the protagonist faces issues that apply to women today. Although the stories are set long ago, women’s issues don’t change all that much. We just have more resources at our disposal now.
My current release for Revell, Where Wildflowers Bloom, book one in the Sisters at Heart series, is set in post–Civil War Missouri. The main character, Faith, is in over her head, trying to run the family business and care for her elderly grandfather. Her circumstances are those of the late 1860s, but her challenges could happen today.
Did I know, back in the1990s, that I’d be authoring historical fiction? No. But I’m so grateful the Lord has taken me down this path.