Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We Write What We Know

          I'm always a little timid when I agree to statements disavowing any live person being a part of our plot. Or is it "living or dead"? I have to confess that one of the minor characters in our novel Charlie's Girl was patterned after a distant relative we met in the 1960s when doing genealogical research.

          We had corresponded with this man and his wife for a couple of years, and were going to be passing through their area on a vacation, so we were expected to stop by for a visit.  After getting directions and a map, we traipsed up and down highways and byways for hours trying to locate the small town where they lived.  It wasn't on the map because the town had burned years before.  We finally asked a pedestrian if he knew this family, and he gave us directions that went like this:  go to the next cattle crossing, take a left at the big oak tree, and go about a mile or so to the blinking light, over the railroad tracks, etc. We eventually found the family home place on our own.

          The old gentleman in the overalls who greeted us seemed so familiar!  It wasn't until we spent the afternoon going through old photographs that we recognized him as the young boy in a 2 x 2 picture we had seen before. It had been given to my grandmother by her new, much younger brother-in-law when she married my grandfather. The eyes were still the same, despite the many years that had passed.

          When our heroine "Rosalind" visits her grandfather's adoptive family in North Carolina, she gains valuable insight into his childhood as well as names and dates to enter on her pedigree chart. Perhaps we'll be forgiven this small lapse in letting art imitate life.

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