Friday, September 30, 2011

I've a deep respect for the role family and history play in people's lives. I am particularly drawn to the early 20th century, the major world wars (I and II), and the Vietnam War.

Why war? I have no idea. All I know, is when my girlfriends were reading Danielle Steele and Sandra Brown, I was devouring Robert Ludlum and Leon Uris. While other kids my age watched Eight is Enough, I was glued to M*A*S*H (I know, that was the Korean war, but it was one of my favorite shows; I had a huge crush on Hawkeye (Alan Alda); so much so, I named one of my dog's Hawkeye. Unfortunately, he was hit by a car and killed (my dog, not Alan)). I adore the History Channel (and the Weather channel, but that's another post). So it is no mystery that my first novel, Everything That Matters, follows one woman's desperate search for love and independence during a turbulent period in women's history; and its sequel, My Own, continues the saga through the muddy battle fields of World War I.

The 1910s was a riotous decade of social and political upheaval. Women were no longer satisfied with being, what is termed today, arm candy. They sought, through personal and public defiance —that led to some women being divorced by their husbands, or imprisoned—for political and legal recognition of their roles and contributions to society. The 1910s was also a key period for the shipping industry.

In April 1912 the Titanic sank taking with it over 1100 lives—and fracturing thousands more. The disaster inspired an overhaul of an antiquated navel system that resulted in stringent safety measures, including enough lifeboats and lifejackets for ALL passengers in the event of a sinking. And though it's been almost a hundred years since the 'unsinkable ship' sank, and women rallied for basic rights, the tragedy, and the triumphs, continue to influence lives—like mine.

The direct impact of the suffragette movement on my life is explained by my gender. The Titanic's sinking, is more personal.

My stepfather's grandparents were supposed to be on that ship. Thankfully, they were bumped. But thinking of how different my life might be had they made that fateful trip led me to wonder how the sinking changed people’s lives, and if, despite the tragic losses, in some cases, lives were changed for the better—as I've imagined in Everything That Matters. Had my step-grandparents gone down with the ship, my stepfather—and thus my brother, sister, and nieces—would not exist. And although they say you can't miss what you never had, knowing and loving my siblings and nieces as I do, I thank heaven that fate intervened where the Lockes were concerned.

What about you? Is there a particular historical period, event, or tradition that resonates with you? Do you ever wonder how different your life might be if a certain something—or someone—had not happened, or happened along? Is there a time period you wish you could revisit, or a historical figure you'd love meet over a cup of coffee—or tea? Please share in the comments.


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