For some time I’ve been researching and writing about Southeast Ohio’s Appalachian Little Cities of Black Diamonds. A novel about the cultural changes and conflicts occurring there in the 1920s interests me, especially my father’s oral history of life in small towns.
But 32,505 words into the novel I’m putting it aside as writers sometimes need to: too many characters; too many plot lines. I’ll return to it, but after clearing my mind to get a new perspective.
I’ve also been unsuccessful in getting others interested in the project. I was fortunate to have many interested individuals and organizations from around the country when writing Yours in a Hurry. Of course, that has famous historical characters and events along popular cultural themes. The Little Cities area is challenged now, and history isn’t their focus. They’re working on renewal and development, and there’s only so much individual energy for large or small endeavors.
Letters From the Front: World War 2
Another reason for the decision is that I feel I’m losing time on another work I’d like to complete. My father wrote to my mother nearly every day during WW2, the only exception being during the months of the major battle in Myitkyina, Burma in 1944. Mom went from girlfriend to fiancé during the war. The highly censored letters tell of routine state-side driving and materials work in several camps in Southern states to later more dangerous service in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater in the MARS Task Force and afterwards.
For instance, in the fall of 1945 as he awaited being listed to ship home to the United States, he and the others were barred from going into Calcutta after an American service man driving an ambulance was caught in the riots surrounding the upcoming religiously contested Indian elections. The driver was burned in the ambulance, and you can tell by dad’s letter that it greatly affected him. You can learn more about my father, Olaf (aka O.I., Curly, or Tom) Darnell at https://www.ann-otto.com/blog/little-cities-of-the-black-diamond-memoir.
A Passion for Sharing History
I invite you to continue following these posts that cover history and writing. If you want to know more about my writing strategy, see a recent interview at https://www.nfreads.com/interview-with-author-ann-kathleen-otto/.
If you’re a writer or author of 20th-century history please send me examples of your work if you'd like to be a guest on the blog. Or, maybe you're a reader with a historical memory you’d like to share on this site. If so, please share. If you see information in this or previous posts that interest you, or of which you have first-hand knowledge, please let me know. Examples of past guest blog posts on this site include the aviator ancestor of a local librarian (https://www.ann-otto.com/blog/early-aviator-frank-j-terrill) and stories around Hungarian history in Northeast Ohio from an immigrant family (https://www.ann-otto.com/blog/ohio-hungarian-heritage-part-1 and https://www.ann-otto.com/blog/escape-to-america). I love sharing a passion for history.
Next time: Researching and Writing a True Story
Ann Otto writes fiction based on factual as well as oral history. Her debut novel, Yours in a Hurry, about Ohioans relocating to California in the 1910’s, is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kindle. Her academic background is in history, English, and behavioral science, and she has published in academic and professional journals. She enjoys speaking with groups about all things history, writing, and the events, locations, and characters from Yours in a Hurry and her current projects, which include a novel about Ohio’s Appalachia in the 1920’s and a compilation of her father’s World War 2 letters. She blogs about history and writing and can be reached through the website, https://www.ann-otto.com/ , or at Facebook@Annottoauthor and www.Goodreads.com.