Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Traveling with Jane's Fiction

I heard Janis, a docent at the Aurora Colony Museum climb the wooden steps while I researched in the museum archives. I hoped to write a quilt and craft history book to walk beside my novel Change and Cherish series (recently renamed and included in one BIG book called Emma of Aurora). "There are two couples downstairs in the museum who came here on the train from Ohio," the docent told me.

"Really? How nice."

"They came because they read about Emma in your novels. They wanted to see where Emma walked and to look at the two front doors of her house. I know they'd love to meet you."

"I'd like to meet them!"

Down the stairs we clopped to encounter two warm couples, a mom and dad and their daughter and son-in-law who had taken the train across the country to Portland, rented a car and just driven down to the museum. They planned to drive from this small town south of Portland to Willapa Bay, site of the second novel in the series, visit the Pacific County Museum near Raymond, Washington, and the grave site of Emma's husband and then drive to Seattle and fly home.

"Have you ever been west before?" I asked.

They hadn't been west of the Mississippi River before Emma lured them here - just as she helped bring the Bethel colony of Missouri west in the mid 1850s. "You men are really special," I said. "Bringing your brides all this way because of books they'd read."

"We read them, too," the dad told me. "Great history. Don't read many novels but I read yours."

Photo Credit: Linda Graham, Shore Acres
From A Gathering of Finches

I've had the pleasure of hearing those words more than once. One man said he came to a presentation of mine about my books as his birthday present. "I always thought I was born 100 years too late. Your books have given me a community. You have people who are real, who make mistakes and who also try to live good lives, treat women with respect, serve their families as best they can."

I suspect it's writing about real people who allow those positive character traits to shine through, traits that make people want to experience what they experienced, to walk where they walked.

I've heard from readers who visited Shore Acres State Park on the southern Oregon coast or who actually stopped at the Warm Springs Museum on their way back to Portland instead of simply driving by. One reader told me they visited the Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida only to see that it was closed for renovations. They'd come a long way to gaze on Ivy's history. "We noticed someone was inside so we held up Mystic Sweet Communion at the window and a woman came out and said, 'Come on in. I'll give you the tour myself.'" They were thrilled. The Happy Bookers, a book group near Shasta City, California, sent a contingent my way who were traveling I-5 visiting scenes from No Eye Can See and What Once We Loved on their way to visit Aurora.

Many people send me photographs of their visits to places from my books. Now they'll be able to share those photos with many others on my community page on Pinterest, Traveling with Jane. I'm delighted to have a way to showcase those photographs and to hear a little snippet about your journey into history.

I hope you'll enjoy posting your own photographs. If you would like to pin any of your travels to locations in my books, notify me of your interest in the comments below or email my assistant (impactauthor {at} comcast {dot} net, please include your Pinterest URL or profile name) and you will be added to the board (once you are added you will receive a confirmation email from Pinterest).  Be sure it's ok with whoever is in your picture (if it isn't just you) to share it. If you are not on Pinterest, I would still love to have your photos!  Please send any you have with a description to the email address above.

I wish I knew the names of those couples from Ohio so I could find out if their journey to the Pacific was memorable and so I could send them a copy of the quilt book Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community and Craft the book I was working on the day they made my day!
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