It occurred to me after I received such a lovely response from my New Year’s Resolutions post, that many of my novel-and-blog readers might be confused!
I wrote: “Lots of New Years Resolutions, beginning with attending the Women’s March, then getting more actively involved in the 2018 election. Also, turn my genealogy research toward my father’s branch, write fiction based on my mother’s branch, teach a “writing family history” workshop, and best of all, visit our kids and grandkids!”
Wait! you think. Doesn’t Elise write about the 1960s? Isn’t that her “shtick”?
It’s true that my two Berkeley Girl books and several of my published short stories are set in the late 1960s. My intent is to define the cultural changes that were taking place all over the world in the late 1960s as I experienced them. Some of this – of course – spills over into my motivation for attending the Women’s March on Jan. 20 at San Francisco Civic Center and becoming more actively involved in the 2018 election on behalf of the Democrats.
So what is this about “genealogy”? What has that got to do with the main theme of my work?
The answer is that for the past four years, genealogy has been a fascination and a calling. It is work in addition to and separate from the 60s theme, yet also based on historical research. Beginning with the tales my parents and grandparents told, and interviews I conducted with relatives in the late 1970s, I now have access through the Internet to dig for the truth behind the family lore of all those years ago. The results have been both serendipitous and thrilling.
Using many different online sources, including Ancestry, Jewish Genealogy, Geni and FamilySearch (Latter Day Saints), I learned truths and exposed myths, and in the process gained the friendship and corroboration of many “new” cousins, all over the world.
My intent has always been to follow up my research by selecting “characters” from among my ancestors and to write a literary historical novel telling their stories. However – when I write the fiction, I am liable to stray from the exact truth once again, simply for the sake of a good story! What to do? I don’t want to confuse my three grandchildren, who will take my fiction for fact.
So, in preparation for this long-term goal, I have written a nonfiction book to get down the facts as I have discovered them, before I “stray.” This book, From the Pale of Settlement to the American Midwest, contains my findings for my mother’s side of the family, the Kantors and Greenbergs. The actual book was designed and produced by my talented friend, author Mary F. Burns. This family history is not available on Amazon, only through me. Going back to around 1800, it is specifically focused on my genealogical journey, my ancestors and relations, and not meant to be of general interest. So far, it has been distributed to over 90 relations and a few historical libraries and organizations, which were immensely helpful as well.
I planned to do a workshop on “Writing Your Family History” for the California Writers’ Club “Think Tank” in January. This has been cancelled so as not to conflict with the Women’s March. Now I am “resolved” to find another opportunity to share with my fellow-authors how to go about this formidable and somewhat miraculous journey. If workshop attendees are interested, I will make the book available to them.
This coming year, it is time to turn to research on my father’s side of the family. And writing the fiction based on the Kantors and Greenbergs? That moves forward as well.
Genealogy co-exists nicely alongside getting the word out about my two novels on the 1960s: The Berkeley Girl, in Paris 1968 and its sequel, The Berkeley Girl: Rendezvous in London, A Novella and Other Stories of the 60s. If you haven’t picked up a copy of the sequel, please read it in print or on Kindle. It is also available free as an e-book from your local library service – and please don’t forget to leave your impressions and opinions as a review on Amazon and Goodreads.
Thanks for all your comments on Facebook, and all the best to you in 2018!
Thank you for explaining! I knew this distinction because of having talked with you, but I can imagine that casual readers may have been confused.
Also, it occurs to me that this topic might be worthy of an hour-long dive, if you’d be interested in being the main speaker for a CWC meeting. Let me know!
Thanks, Audrey. I’d like to talk to you about this.
Great, Elise. I will enjoy reading more about your genealogy journey!
All the best,