How Real Life Places can Help your Writing

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by Rose Allen McCauley

It seems like God almost had to hit me over the head with the idea for my latest novella, Hidden Courage, in The Courageous Brides Collection by Barbour. I received the submission request from my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, but had not written anything historical for several years, so didn’t pay much attention. Then that fall while attending the ACFW conference in St. Louis, MO, Cecelia Dowdy, one of my former critique partners in ACFW asked me if I was submitting, and when I said no, she encouraged me to try.
So, I prayed about it (always the best thing to do!) and I remembered that my son’s pre-Civil War Home had been on the historical house tour the year before, and they told a story of the hidden room discovered in their basement when his wife’s parents had re-done the stonework. When they tore out a wall, they discovered a small room big enough to hold a small bed. Someone told them it could have been on the Underground Railroad since the house was built before the Civil War began. Kentucky was a divided state with the battle victories going back and forth between the North and South. There were several battles in or around the town of Cynthiana, KY where this house still stands. So, I submitted my proposal to Tamela who forwarded it to Barbour, and my novella was one of the nine stories chosen about courageous brides all around our country.

Being able to walk down the stone steps to see the stonewalls of the hidden room in the basement helped me describe the scenes in my story that took place in the house and in the yard. Also while writing, I remembered visiting a nearby town named Washington, KY several years before and seeing the house where Harriet Beecher (later Stowe) stayed when she experienced the live slave auction that inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin. So, my husband joined me on another tour of Washington to get all my facts straight, and we also went to Maysville, KY to tour the Underground Railroad Museum. Seeing both of those places also helped me actually “see” where parts of my story took place to aid me in describing them realistically.

The fun part in writing this story was being able to name the heroine after my four-year-old granddaughter Elinor. The rest of the characters except for Mrs. Stowe were all fictional, of course. And, I discovered more about Cynthiana and surrounding places in Kentucky.

Having the familiar town and buildings made it easier for me to imagine an adult Elinor growing into the courage God had planned for her to do something she had never thought of doing–helping out on the Underground Railroad. Kind of like me stepping out in faith to write a historical novella!

rose-mccauleyRose Allen McCauley has been writing over a decade, and has four books published. She’s thrilled for this to be her second collection with Barbour. A retired schoolteacher, happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades, they enjoy their family of three children, and their spouses, plus five lively grandkids! If you would like to read more about her heroine who helps some slaves escape and the other eight courageous brides, check out the link on Fiction Finder.

Comments 0

  1. Can not wait to get my hands on this new book. I love everything Rose writes. She is a great writer and just an all around great gal.

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