Slipping my grandmother into the story

It was Aunt Rose who encouraged me to balance on top of the playground equipment blocks from her house, cheering me on as I shuffled with fear on the tiny beam that stood eight feet above the sand, and applauding when I was successful in making it to the other end. She let me roller skate across the wood floors of her house, ignoring the scuff marks I left behind with my clumsy feet. Her large smocks became the costume wardrobe for Sara and me when we performed plays and musicals in the front yard. We’d try on her large-brimmed Easter bonnets, giggle as we slipped on her large bras over our dresses, teeter along in her heels, and spin around in satin sleepwear that became the magnificent ball gown of a princess within our fantasy-fueled imaginations.
Rose would let us jump on her bed, a sharp contrast from our father’s reaction, which would be a swift spanking across a bare bottom. At night, she’d let us sleep in the large bed cozy with quilts, giving us the best room of the house while she slept on the couch. Breakfasts were always feasts of waffles or pancakes, bacon and eggs, or the sugary cereals our parents denied us. She always listened to us with great interest, feeding off the stories we pulled from thin air over a slice of apple pie with blackened crust. We were never treated like little kids, even in our constant barrage of questions and tireless demands for entertainment. At her house, we were treated as honored guests. – A Symphony of Cicadas, Chapter 5, pages 44-45

It is only natural for authors to pull little tidbits from the people surrounding them, placing their quirks and habits into the characters being written about.  I am no exception, using my loved ones and all their weird tendencies to create interesting people I’ve conjured up in this story.  And while the majority of the characters only hold a few qualities from my family and friends, there is one character who had a very distinct voice in my mind.

Aunt Rose.  Or in my mind, my grandmother, Estelle, who passed away in 2010.

If you pick up my book and take a look at the dedication, you’ll see I have dedicated this book to my grandma.  As I was writing this, Aunt Rose just sort of pushed her way into the storyline.  I didn’t totally plan on her being there, but she showed up anyway.  Originally, she was just going to be a bit character who would come and go without much thought.  But she held strong in her stubborn way, much like my own grandma.  And as I wrote about her, she began to take on the features and character of my grandma.  I stopped fighting it, and just went with it.  And soon, it was like I was writing a love letter to my grandmother.

My grandmother did all those things above that I mentioned Aunt Rose did.  Her house was the stomping grounds for my cousins and me, where we would all get to hang out together and create all sorts of trouble.  And while we were surely overwhelming to my grandmother, I know she also loved having us around her so much.

When we were kids, my grandma was a sturdy woman with a firm opinion.  But in her last few years, she lost all her weight and all her memories.  The last time time I saw her, she could barely keep her eyes open.  But when it was mentioned that I was there to visit, she opened her eyes and said, “Well,” – meaning she recognized who I was.

Grandma was a huge part of my childhood, and by creating a character modeled after her, I got to spend a little more time with her as well.  It was only fitting that A Symphony of Cicadas is dedicated to my Grandma Estelle.

This is just one of several posts to come that dives into the chapters of A Symphony of Cicadas, and the inspiration behind the story. For all sneak peeks at the novel, CLICK HERE. To purchase the book, go to

Stay tuned for more!

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