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Friday, December 4, 2015

A Collection of Sparks by Rose Anderson


I have a new book out just in time for the holidays! It's an exciting collaborative born from my international Exquisite Quills reader/writer group.
Buy here and elsewhere. I have two short stories in this anthology/cookbook: The Gift of Time and Star of Wonder. For my post today, I'd like to share the spark behind the latter.

I’m often asked how I come to write the stories I do. That answer is hard to pin down because I write all sorts of things from children's early readers to historical non-fiction. All I can say is  each writing had a spark that ignited it. For me, writing is the natural progression of a lifelong story collector.

I’ve been collecting stories ever since I was a child. Like so many of my generation, I grew up listening to my elders at the kitchen table. Important conversation could only occur there amid ritual items of adult conversation. In my house these were Melmac coffee cups and a chromed percolator. They sat beside large ashtrays of Pall Malls whose tendrils of eye-stinging smoke swirled to the ceiling like genies. The habit of conversation in the kitchen was long rooted in the past.  Even human language is thought to have come about when firelight extended the day. The hearth has always been the center of all activity. No matter the hearth is now a kitchen stove.

When my parents, aunts and uncles, and friends got together, they discussed everything from politics to the day to day business of their lives. They also played pinochle and laughed and told stories.
I’d be there on the smoke-free floor drawing pictures amid the jungle of legs, all the while listening quietly and soaking up stories like a little sponge. I still remember bits and pieces of those stories. I’ve collected stories ever since.



When hubby and I moved our little family to this farm house 30 years ago, we immersed ourselves in the land and surrounding history. Everyday details of all the adjacent farmsteads were stories waiting to be discovered. To that end, we asked questions of elder residents whenever we could. I love when older folks share their memories. I could listen to seniors reminisce for hours. My active imagination and background in history hung on every word. My mind filled in the blanks and I could see their life and times unfolding right before my eyes.  Through their reminiscing, I learned about the man who went to California as a miner ‘49’er and came back after striking it rich. I discovered there are three children buried along the back road under pink peonies because the farm was quarantined when they lost their lives during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. I learned about the pioneer cemetery where five children are buried and how the morbid sore throat (diphtheria) ravaged the family in the 1850’s. I know about the grisly murder of a farm hand. I also know where the lime pit is on the hill (that dissolved the body!). Through restoration work, I learned about the hidy-hole—a secret cellar in the house next door. Hidy-hole suggests Underground Railroad activity. I still wonder about the human molar and chauffeur’s license pin we found in that house’s cistern.

With such a head full of details, how could I not write books?

One of my favorite stories comes from older neighbors who remembered when the 1930’s brought rural electrification to my area. They told of how the Christmas tree was lit for the first time when electricity finally came down the line on Christmas eve. This truth is the basis for my story Star of Wonder. The rest is a tribute to love. As with all of my stories, Star of Wonder has its share of metaphor. 

Many of our oldest neighbors have passed on since we came here 30 years ago, but I still have their stories. I cherish the details of their lives and share them wherever I can. Like now. Through the retelling, those lives and times are remembered. I encourage everyone to ask questions of their elders. The details of their lives are as precious as the time left to tell them. As you gather with family and friends this holiday season, ask them to share those memories. Make their stories yours and share them. And then share your own. Stories live forever.


From my family to yours, I wish you the happiest of holidays.

Do you have a precious little story that you've collected?
Please
share in comments!



>>۞<<

Rose Anderson is a multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes across genres under the pen name Madeline Archer. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.Stop by my blog for interesting topics all month long
Find Rose Anderson's scorching novels wherever love stories are sold.
Sample Rose Anderson's Scorching First Chapters 



8 comments:

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

The listening to family gossip and stories part, coffee drinking and dunking of rusks, is something I remember. Does anyone nowadays know what a rusk is? Do they even still make them? Will have to check at the store this weekend. Good post, Rose, and congratulations on getting Exquisite Christmas put together and out!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

My own mother was a great storyteller. I've collected together some of my family stories which work as a generational novel. You are right; friends, neighbors and family can provide wonderful material for writers.

Melissa Keir said...

I love your collection of sparks. We all have collections and you have some wonderful ones (post cards and information). But I hadn't thought of the sparks for stories, the details of loved ones...those sparks as a collection. Now I am a collector of more than dust! :)

Cara Marsi said...

Love your post. You're very lucky to have such a story-rich family and to live in a place filled with stories. My family wasn't so much about stories. The only ones I remember are my maternal aunts talking about growing up in an immigrant family with a mother who didn't speak English.

Judy Baker said...

I too loved listening to my parents and grandparents when they were living. I really enjoyed your post. I hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas.

jean hart stewart said...

You're lucky to have such memories to cherish. A lovely post.

Paris said...

I have always loved listening to stories about the past, whether they were told by relatives or friends. We've always seemed to have older neighbors who loved to pass on wonderful stories and I've loved every minute of their steps back into the past. Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely Christmas!

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Happy holidays. xx

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