We all have some: family stories overheard, then swept away. When I heard the ones circulating in my family my first thoughts were always “what a cool story!” I’d start plotting and thinking of questions that needed to be answered before I could fully flesh the stories out. These were questions, however, I never actually asked. These secrets, which, by my generation weren’t so much secrets as known-but-not-thought-about family lore, were just fodder for my fiction. I never thought to find out the real story. To me, the truth didn’t matter so much as the drama I could create. But, as a teenager, what isn’t about the drama that you, personally, create?
As I work on Julia, I’m trying to figure out how to move through time. I don’t want flashbacks, but I need the reader to see the past in order for the family secret that comes to light to be real and plausible. I went to the library with this purpose in mind: find a few books that travel in time and study the styles and devices. What I ended up doing was searching the online catalog for “family secrets.”
The first book to pop up on my search was “Annie’s Ghosts” by Steve Luxenberg. Steve is a journalist and this non-fiction book follows his search for his long lost aunt, the sister of his mother who, he grew up believing, was an only child.
Having had it for a little over 48 hours, I’m about halfway through. Train rides and lunch times have flown by. This guy is good; I’m totally enthralled! And I’m learning how a real reporter would go about uncovering a secret seemingly lost to time.
If you’re looking for a good, engrossing read (as research for our own book or not), I highly recommend “Annie’s Ghosts.”
What about you? Any favorite family secret books you want to share?