© copyright 2010-2017 by Diana K. Perkins
I'm occasionally asked, "Why did you write about that?" "What inspired you?"information about Mill Girls is Carol Buch. Willimantic Industry and Community, a book by our lost
In the case of Singing Her Alive, it was a newspaper article that inspired me.
Jamie and Kitt Eves had published an article in our local paper, The Chronicle
about the Elms boarding house. It was simply a small leap of my imagination
to wonder what kind of tension would be created if, as noted in the article,
the two women boarders, forced to share a bed either didn't like each others
company, or perhaps liked it a bit too much... what would be the outcome?
What kind of futures would women in the late 1800's have if they chose not
To prepare for writing this novel, I read a number of books about mill
workers, mill girls and textile mills. Our Willimantic mills are well documented
and displayed by the Windham Textile Mill and History Museum.
Jamie Eves, our town historian and local treasure, is a wealth of information
as is our other local treasure, Bev York. Another invaluable source for
treasure, Thomas R. Beardsley, was also mined for information. A hearty thank you goes out to all of
them for inspiring me and teaching local history.
Additionally I drew authentic details from information available through books and pamphlets about
Lowell Massachusettes Mills.
Personal Philosophy Number One: Let yourself be surprised.
I have a friend who, upon starting a new book, always reads the last page first. This annoys me.
I like surprises, I don't want to hear someone recite the storyline of a movie, or give away a
punch line. Because I like surprises, I try to weave them into my novels. So the
"*Spoiler Alert", below may give a clever reader some clues to the surprises in store in
Singing Her Alive. Don't read it if you like surprises. By the way, my friend likes to
eat dessert first too.
Personal Philosophy Number Two: Try not to be prejudiced.
All of my life I have read novels like Emma, Wuthering Heights, Romeo and
Juliet and thousands of other romances. Romances between men and
women. But these stories, great and small, did not change my nationality, my
race or my sexuality. Reading novels about other kinds of people only
broadened my view, but they did not change my basic person. Reading a
novel with gay characters will not, miraculously make a straight person gay.
Neither will a gay person, like myself, become straight by reading straight
novels. Love, hate, birth, death, all of the larger experiences of life are
universal and we should be able to embrace them with the understanding that
we are all in our core, the same. Reading about those different than ourselves
can only broaden us. And by the way, I knew no other gay people when I was
growing up, I was NOT recruited, nor see anyone in the media that "made me
that way". So the hysteria about gay people on TV, in books or in our schools
is very simply, prejudice.
Jenny's Way, another story about a taboo subject, was inspired by a local legend. I am still attempting
to determine if there is any truth to the legend. But, some secrets are too embarassing to reveal, and
even a whole town may conspire to hide them.
Acceptance Speech for Runner Up Award at the New England Book
I guess you could call this a revenge novel.
Revenge for the few, depressing novels about gay people that were all I could
find when I was a teen in the sixties. This was a time when there were no role
models for lesbians, no history and little literature to help me understand and
explore my emerging "unnatural" desires. There were no happy endings for
lesbians. So my first published novel has given me the opportunity to share a
fictional history of one couple who defied the odds and made a happy ending.
Diana's Pool, is a mystery based on another local legend about a local landmark, a lovely pool on the
Natchaug River in Chaplin, Connecticut. Hikers, sunbathers, anglers and illegal swimmers wonder
what happened at this spot. Will we ever know?
ABOUT THE FRONT COVERS -
There are many reasons that many of the front covers of my novels have roads on them.
One reason is that many of the stories are set in rural areas at a time when people used
dirt roads to get from one place to another, often by walking.
A dirt road is a metaphor for life, we travel down these twisted lanes which have highs
and lows that we must climb or descend. The road might have a blockage that we need
to surmount or a bend that leaves the future deliciously out of view and calls you forward.
It has forks where we must make decisions on which lane to follow. I cannot think of a
better metaphor for life than a country road.
SUMMER ICE, the fourth novel in the series has broken from the rules, it does not have a
rural road on the cover. Instead it has a feature which is central to the plot. Check it out!
THE NONPROFIT MURDERS, has an important spot on the cover: the Guilford Smith
Memorial Library where one of the fictional murders takes place.
The covers also have other little pictures woven into the filigree. These are clues to some
of the story content that will be uncovered as the tale unfolds.
In preparing to write historic fiction novels set in Eastern Connecticut during the 1800s -
1900s, I read a number of books. Often earlier research supports later novels, here are
some on my reading list. If you would like more information about these, please contact me.
Singing Her Alive: Farm to Factory: Women's Letters, 1830-1860 (Dublin), Life in a
New England Milltown (Isaacs), Willimantic Women: Their Lives and Labors
(Beardsley), Loom & Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls (Robinson).
Jenny's Way: History of the Town of Sprague (Delaney)
Diana's Pool: History of Windham County (Bayles, 1889)
Summer Ice: Historic Sketch of Coventry Connectcut (Peterson, 1912), Town of
Coventry Connecticut, Commemorative Brochure (2012), Images of America,
Coventry (Village Improvement Society).
Last on a Match Sixth in the Shetucket River Milltown series:
Ten Days in a Madhouse (Bly), Conscience and Convenience (Rothman), Taftville
the Early Years (Dugas), Taftville, Conn. and the Industrial Revolution (Dugas)
General Research: How the Other Half Lives (Riis), The Physiology of New Your
Boarding-Houses (Gunn), The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth-Century America (Gamber),
The Run of the Mill (Dunwell)
Current Reading: The Woman Who Toils (Vorst), The Lives They Left Behind
(Penney & Stastny)
Novel number six in the Shetucket River Milltown Series is a sequel to Summer Ice and
it will be set in Taftville and Norwich, Connecticut in the early 1900s. I have already
started it and am very excited about it. As some of you know I primarily write in the
winter. I hope to keep my small but dedicated fan base appraised of the progress on
the next one, which, by the way does not yet have a title. Follow its progress on the Book page.
Summer Ice, is a story set in Coventry, Connecticut. This story touches on the taboo subject of incest,
when several of the siblings find themselves drawn to one another.
The Nonprofit Murders is a story set in South Windham, Willimantic and surrounding communities in
2014. This who-done-it opens with the murder of a library worker in the Guilford Smith Library.
|*Sits atop our masonry heater. This keeps me
toasty on those chilly winter days and nights.
Yes, I really do write from this perch.