When I decided to merge my love of writing with that of digging into family and local history, I wanted to be sure I didn't delve too deeply into the "how to" aspect of exploring family history.
It didn't take long to figure out there is only so much license to take when exploring the history of a real place, in my case Garrett County, Maryland. I love riding through the Appalachian Mountains in a train. Or the Allegheny Mountains, if you prefer. While the town of Mountain Grove is fictional any references to the county's history has to be largely accurate. If not, why set it there?
With the Family History Mystery Series, I also faced the challenge of learning more during the COVID pandemic. A planned trip to tour some towns and conduct research fizzled, and I felt fortunate to find publications through the Garrett County Historical Society.
As always, the characters made their preferences known. I had planned for the protagonist, Digger -- you'll never guess how she got her name -- to spend more time plowing through old records and such, but she decided that would be boring.
She also wanted more friends, so the Unscheduled Murder Trip gives them a bigger role. Book Three, tentatively titled Mountain Rails of Old, will feature the family of Digger's business partner, Holly. She's descended from one of the first free Black families in Garrett County, which will give me a chance to explore more aspects of the county's history.
In my wildest dreams, I never planned to insert a ghost, but one of the key characters was too good to let rest in peace. Writing does take authors down unexpected paths.Today marks the releas of the Unscheduled Murder Trip, which was fun to write and let me stretch my writing wings, probably an odd term, given that it relates to the ghost.