In the writing room right now ...
In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Touring in the Neighborhood
Today's author event was a discussion with the Lyceum Club at St. Johnsbury Academy. We talked about Molly's choices in The Darkness Under the Water, and about how she handled the stresses and situations in her life. An interesting side discussion formed around the effects of tuberculosis on Molly's mother's health, and how that might also have a role in her distance from her daughter as the book begins.
Two bits of regional history came up in particular in today's discussion. One concerns whether Catholics in this area would have dared to enter a Protestant church and attend a service there in 1930, as Katy O'Connor and her family do near the start of the book. Because two of the discussion participants spoke of their experience growing up as French (French Canadian) Catholics in Vermont, we talked about the way Catholics side-stepped going to Protestant services in the 1950s -- going into the social events "downstairs" in the churches, but not into the worship "upstairs." Some were taught by the priests that to attend a Protestant worship service would be a terrible sin.
But Academy historian Rich Beck confirmed earlier this fall, and so did archivist Joanne Bertrand today, that the active presence and malevolence of the Ku Klux Klan in Vermont in the 1930s pushed some Catholics into attending Protestant churches after all, as a way of keeping a low profile. The KKK targeted both people of color and Catholics in Vermont at that time.
The second bit was the presence of Mohawk Indians in the region. One discussion participant explained that her French-Canadian origin family had only recently realized one of its members was a Mohawk. That brought up the role of the Mohawk crew that came south from Montreal in the 1950s for the construction of the second large power dam here, Moore Dam. The steel-work supervisor from that time period recently recalled how he'd contacted the union "hall" in Montreal to get extra help, and how exciting it was to watch the crew: One member kept the fire going at ground level (where he could enjoy seeing who came and went all day), and the others worked many feet above him, as much as two stories higher. The fire-working crew member would heat a large metal rivet at the fire, seize it with tongs, and hurl it up into the air; other crew members, above, caught each rivet with a metal funnel-shaped device, and hammered each into the steel structure. To start your own research on Mohawk steelworkers, click here.
I'm posting a photo here from construction of Comerford Dam -- the one that actually was built in 1930. This was taken while the dam was under construction.
Posted by Beth Kanell at 5:43 PM