How To Create a Novel Using Your Family History


As a child I remember listening to Uncle John, Uncle Alex, and my Grandpa as they talked of their childhood and life “down east”. At that time I had no idea where this mythical place was, I just loved the stories. Rather than play with my sisters and cousin on a hot summer afternoon I preferred to sit under Uncle Alex’s chair and listen. Unfortunately I do not remember the specifics of the stories. What I do remember is a growing love of family and that magical place  of “down east.” Eventually I learned that it was more commonly called Nova Scotia. In later years that love converted to an addiction to genealogy and family history.
After years of researching my family and compiling my genealogy, I finally decided it was time to pay tribute to my ancestors and all that they experienced. One family line in particular fascinated me:  my Mother’s Father’s line, the line about which I used to hear those stories. Through Grandpa Corkum I’ve learned that  I descend from a dozen or so of the original families who came from Germany in the 1750s to eventually settle the town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. They were called the “Foreign Protestants” and were brought to Canada to settle the land left when the Acadians were sent away by the British Government. These people left extreme poverty and religious persecution in Germany for the unknown perils of a new world.
This, then, was the basis for my books Lunenburg Letters and Lunenburg Letters: The Legacy. By the time I felt the desire to write the story I knew about the families; that is I knew where and when they were born, married and died, who their spouses and children were. What I didn’t know was the details of their lives. What specifically happened that made them move? What was life like in their villages? On the ships? Once they arrived?  What were the pivotal events of their lives?

Read the entire article in the July/August issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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