Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Historical Fiction Inspired by a Legacy

My grandmother at 16 years old, 1936
This past week, I visited my 93 year old grandmother. She lives in the same home my late grandfather designed and built in 1986. The walls, table tops, and bookshelves are covered with family photos and memorabilia ranging from 1900 to 2013...yep, over a century's worth of memories. We toured the nearby Smithsonians in Washington D.C. while we were there, but I must say, I was most impressed with the home in which we stayed. My childhood flooded to me, and my love for history was kindled every time I walked from my bedroom to the kitchen.
The legacy of my grandparents is a great one, and one tendril of it has wrapped itself around my heart and begun to sprout fruit in my writing.
My great great grandparents in Greece

My great grandparents were immigrants to this country. (Their story inspired my recent novel which I hope to publish some day.) They came from a depressed economy in Greece at the turn of the century, and tried to grasp the American dream in the coal mines of Carbon County, Utah. My grandfather spent his early years living with four sisters (his two year old brother died of pneumonia) in a tent on the side of a mountain, while his father and mother did their best to provide for their family. He often told us of the tale where he fell in a well, and of the time when he first saw an African college in Salt Lake City!
My grandfather as a child in the 20's
After researching for my novel, I learned that my Greek relatives were not accepted easily in the American culture. I learned that Greeks were considered, "the scum of Europe" and that my great grandparents most likely encountered discrimination.
My grandmother talked about being teased as children in Salt Lake City, and for some reason, it makes me more proud to know that no matter the unsteady ground upon which our roots were re-planted, my grandparents flourished into great Greek Americans.
My grandfather entered the Army, as an American, and fought in Africa, Italy, and all the way up to Germany...where he raided Hitler's summer home (the prizes he brought back from this are amazing!), and he freed the concentration camp in Dachau (the pictures of this are amazing!). He came back to a young family, and took the next step in the American Dream.
My grandfather, who grew up in a tent, began a booming construction business, which my uncles and cousin still own today, and have created a very well-respected name for themselves, and very successful projects as well.
From all this, I have realized why I love to write. Why history is so important to me. Why I am intrigued with certain eras of history. And it all lies in the memory of my grandmother, and upon the walls and shelves of her house.
From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
It made my stomach sour when I went into the district...and saw people take for granted the sheer awe-inspiring history of our country; how we might be considered a joke in other countries, or a worst enemy, but yet, we've come such a long way. And my snippet of family legacy proved that to me all the more.
My great great grandmother in Greece
Some people say that history isn't's a waste of time to study it because it's all in the past. But I say, history is the key to who we are now, what we've learned, how we've grown, and possibly, what we might long for without really knowing it. Some things are better left behind, but then there are other things that might have slipped away with much regret, leaving us in a future that is a little less honorable, a little less safe, and without the men whose hard work and fighting gave us a gift of Freedom that we so often take for granted.

History is worth writing about. It's worth transporting readers into a different time and place, that really, is part of who they are, even if they don't realize it!


  1. You have such an interesting family history. I love the old photos!
    - Lauren

  2. Thanks, Lauren! I love your photos on your website. Thanks for stopping by.:)