I get so much of my inspiration from family history. I’m currently brainstorming a story set in the early 1900s–a little further back in time than I usually write. Arthur is one of eight children who’s essentially given away because his family is struggling to keep all those mouths fed. And here’s my character inspiration from Laurel Fork, WV.

That’s Dellet, Bernice (pronounced like furnace), Jim, Harry, Earl, Ford, and Clarence Loudin. Plus, some unidentified ladies and a child on the far right. I have vague memories of visiting Bernice who was born in 1898 and died in 1979. His wife Garnet was around until 1994 so she’s clearer for me. I remember driving by their mailbox marked B.O. Loudin and thinking it must be sad having to look at your dead husband’s name every time you get the mail. I’m older now and my opinion on that matter has changed.

“Garnet Pearl Smith was two and a half pounds when she was born. Bernice Loudin met her then. As they grew older, he offered to carry water for her, and she vowed to marry him. They had five boys and three girls.”

One of those boys went on to be quite a woodcarver and we have two of his pieces hanging in our living room–a nodding trillium and a jack-in-the-pulpit.

I’m not sure I can top those four sentences even with 300 or so pages to try.