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Our October Author Interviews--10/4 Wendy Tyson, 10/11 Marilyn Levinson, 10/18 Earl Javorski, 10/25 Linda Lovely. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


October Saturday Guest Bloggers: 10/7 Mark Bacon, 10/14 Elaine Orr, 10/21 WWK's Margaret S. Hamilton, 10/28 Kait Carson, and E. B. Davis 10/31 to fill out our fifth Tuesday.


WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla! Look for Carla's blog this month to find out the winner.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Writing with my Father

When I wrote about helping my father with his memoirs in this blog, many people responded with stories about their parents and family memories. I talked with my father, who is now 87, and he seemed pleased that others were interested. He gave me permission to share his memoirs with others as I pleased.

One thing I tired to keep in mind as I wrote was that I was telling my father’s story; not mine. I tried to use my father’s “voice” in the phrasing, vocabulary and subject matter. When writing I always try to find the voice of the protagonist. For example, in my short story Lady of Quality, although the writing took about three years to complete, the voice of the protagonist never flagged. No matter how long it took I always knew I would finish eventually. With my father’s memoirs, I had a lifetime of listening to work with. There have been times with my boys when I opened my mouth and heard my father’s words come tumbling out.

My father has a Midwesterner’s reluctance to call attention to himself and to downplay his accomplishments. That does not mean he lacks confidence or ambition. He does not. We agreed that readers would most interested in his war experiences and that should be the opening of the book. My father was insistent that he was not a hero and would not accept any description implying he was.

We discussed starting with the Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Rhine River over the only intact bridge left in all of Germany or earning a bronze star. My father suggested his first encounter with a jet might work, but I thought t would be less impressive to readers well acquainted with jets than it had been to him when his life was suddenly threatened by a weapon he’d only heard rumors about.

I searched for a theme, we talked extensively and I reviewed his thoughts, Finally I suggested an opening that we mutually evolved into the following:

My childhood ended on December 17, 1944. I was twenty years old then, but it wasn’t my age that mattered. On that date, the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, I was sent to the front line as a replacement for a man about my age who had been killed. When I went off to war my dad told me to do whatever I had to do to survive and come home again. I thought the man I replaced probably had similar instructions from his dad. The instructions didn’t save him. My dad’s instructions couldn’t deflect bullets of shell fragments. I knew I could be killed and that knowledge destroyed my childish illusion that everything would work out for me in the end. Surrounded by strangers, shivering in the bitter cold and aware that I could die without warning, I thought about how I ended up in a hole in the ground with people shooting at me. But combat was the defining experience of my life.

Would you like to hear more about his memoirs?

9 comments:

Pauline Alldred said...

The start of your dad's memoir is very moving. It's hard for people who have never experienced enemy fire to identify with those who have but I believe the identification is important so we know what war really means. I wonder how twenty year olds respond to memoirs like yours.

In the UK two generations of mostly men experienced war and that included my grandfather and father. Both of them experienced living miles from home and facing death as young men. Even more profound for my dad was the fact that he had to kill others.

In the US, I became a nurse in the Veterans Administration because I knew how much the war experience affected so many men, into their eighties and nineties. I don't mean to exclude women but there were fewer women in the military years ago.

Thank you for sharing, Warren.

E. B. Davis said...

Yes, Warren-I'd like to hear more. My parent's told me of WWII (Mom was in the Navy stationed in DC.) I had to educate myself about WWI. Seems history class never made it to the 20th century.

I remember reading "A Red Badge of Courage" in middle school and hating it. I had to re-read it when my son was in middle school. By then, I appreciated its shock value, its raw depiction of war, and was happy my son was forced to read it, hoping all the while that he'd remember its lesson.

Yesterday's Washington Post front page contained a picture of a young veteran in a wheel chair, both legs blown off. I can't imagine that violence.

Warren Bull said...

Certainly there were lots of heroic women involved in World War II. My wife's aunt was an army nurse. The US House of Representatives voted on drafting women into the services and the measure fell one vote short of being passed. Women flew planes to Europe, worked in factories and, of course in occupied countries had to face horrors to survive.

Warren Bull said...

My father recently started writing short fiction. He said,"I never realized how hard it is to write until I tried to do it myself."

Polly said...

Excellent beginning, Warren. I think it's very difficult to write Another person's remembrances. Someone asked me once to try, and I couldn't do it because it didn't fit how he thought his life should be presented. You're fortunate to have this time with your dad. It's important now. It will be more important later.

E. B. Davis said...

I love it. Yes, writing looks so easy. It isn't. I'm glad your father recognises the level of effort. It's a feather in your cap (to use a cliche) and a complement to you. How wonderful!

Warren Bull said...

In response to Polly, another family member who was like a second father to my dad asked if I could help him write his memoirs. His daughter sent me tapes of her interviewing him I found I could not distinguish between people with similar sounding names. I had not heard the stories before and I could not fill in the gaps that occur in oral story telling. I asked for a family tree but at best I could get incidents without knowing when events occurred. When my bone marrow cancer spiked a second time and I needed a second bone marrow transplant. I had to tell him that I simply could not do it.

It would have been a monumental task for me. I console myself with the thought that the tapes exist and that alone is something future generations may treasure.

jennymilch said...

The definition of childhood ending gave me chills. If the memoir goes on like this, not only must it be a very fine book, but an honor to your father.

Warren Bull said...

Thank you, Jenny,

It is a tribute to my father and writing it with him was a great experience. I wouldn't describe the finished project as "very fine." Parts of it are. I admit I'm "cherry picking" in what i share. Due in part to my health issues and in part to his, my father decided he was done long before I would have been. Some parts read like an outline But it is my father's story, not mine, so we finished on his schedule. My father is happy with it and I respect his decisions.