Why I Choose to Write Historical Novels
Author of Sweet Mercy
I started keeping a journal for my daughter before my husband and I left for China to pick her up. I wanted to keep a record of our trip for her, but more than that, I wanted her to understand that her birth parents had given her up not because they didn’t love her but because they couldn’t keep her. China has a one-child policy, handed down by a government trying to control the country’s vast population.
It’s because of that law that many babies there end up in orphanages. But it is also because of that law that I have a beautiful, wonderful, sweet, intelligent daughter.
When I was a student in high school, history class seemed tedious, boring and irrelevant. History was just that…history. No use dredging it up and making us memorize a bunch of dates.
Now I know better.
Every one of our lives is affected and shaped by not only the events of the present but also those of the past. To paraphrase C. Wright Mills, our lives are lived out at the intersection of history and biography. None of us lives in isolation, untouched by the long seamless tapestry of world events.
That’s why I enjoy setting my stories against the backdrop of major world happenings: the two World Wars, the Great Depression, the 1960s Civil Right Era, the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, the 1948 polio epidemic. And in my newest story, Sweet Mercy, Prohibition and the Golden Age of Gangsters.
I love to examine how these large events affect one small group of people, or one family, or even one person. Where a history class may be cold and objective and sweeping, individual stories tell us what really happened. Through stories we see how people’s lives are broadsided, turned upside down, knocked onto a different course, made worse and, yes, sometimes made better by these overarching events that become World History. For my stories, I’m particularly interested in the good that comes out of the bad.
My grandfather lost his first wife during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, but then he married my grandmother and my mother was born. My father was set to go to Japan with his unit, but then World War II ended and he came home safe and sound and met my mother. China instituted the one-child policy in 1979 and then….well, whoever would have thought that such a law would give an American woman her much-loved daughter in 1998?
The ripples of history are far-reaching, and while they are often full of heartache, they sometimes carry blessings too.
MORE ABOUT THE BOOK
Stunning coming-of-age drama set during the Great Depression and Prohibition
When Eve Marryat's father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve's uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.
Eve can't wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be "good people," not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a "safe haven," Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle's lodge is anything but what it seems.
When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?
Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy-Award winning novel Promises to Keep. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association "Book of the Year" in fiction for both All the Way Home and I'll Watch the Moon. Her novel Things We Once Held Dear received a starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly calls her "one of Christian fiction's better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories." Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina.