Lift those eyes from the computer, take a little stretch and look around. Over in the southeast corner sits a plastic box, about 16×20, that holds papers and things from my aunt’s house. Birthday cards, wedding invitations, graduation invitations, newspaper clippings with and without dates of publication. The clippings are stuffed in an 8×11 manila envelope. In a second envelope is the treasure I need. It holds the story that inspires the historical fiction that I write. My great grandmother was 16 years old when she crossed the plains. That trip took place in 1869. She lived into the 1920s and told the story many times.
I think she never forgot the drama of the event when her brother became missing and was presumed killed by the native Americans in the area. She told the story over and over as many of her fellow pioneers passed away. Finally, interested folks and family members decided to write the story she told. The first copy I read was written by my mother’s cousin for a high school project. It is the story I have kept in my mind. In this plastic box I find a second copy of her story, obviously written by someone else with a little bit of different slant.
The details that have been in the story keeper (the plastic box) is information for this Keeper of Stories who stashes it in her mind for the next bit of historical fiction. A reader will find many of the details in By the River, my first actual novel.