Monday, March 19, 2018

Finding family roots in fiction

Like my brother-in-law, who can trace his lineage to the Mayflower, and millions of others, I am a fan of genealogy. For many years, I taught genealogy classes in a public library, demonstrated useful databases, and helped countless patrons find their roots.

This was long before Ancestry.com, a leader in family research, began touting its AncestryDNA service in creative television advertisements or before new sites and tools made it easier than ever to discover one's ancestors. Some of these resources can be found on Cyndi's List, a directory of genealogy web sites. It adds about 1,500 links a month to its collection of more than 300,000 links.

So when I had the opportunity to incorporate an activity I enjoy and appreciate into one of my books, I jumped on it. In The Memory Tree, the second novel in the Carson Chronicles series, the time-traveling Carson siblings use a variety of tools and resources to find their roots in places like Baja California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and France.

To keep track of all the names, dates, and relationships, I found it necessary to create genealogy or family-tree charts that went back seven generations. In The Memory Tree, Cody and Caitlin, the 18-year-old twins, spend quality time in 1918 with their great-great-great-grandfather, a Union Army captain and a Civil War hero. They find their distant relative by doing some old-fashioned research.

When I sent materials to my first few beta readers this month, I included the genealogy charts of the Carson family. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to keep track of names, dates, and events once you go beyond two or three generations. I intend to keep the charts and use them as I work my way through the five-book series.

The Memory Tree itself is now undergoing a third revision. I intend to publish the novel by the second week of May.

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