Gossip and Small Talk

Personal Philosophy

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 story line 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, at our core much 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.

Why? How? What if? (Spoiler alert*)

I’m occasionally asked, “Why did you write about that?”  “What inspired you?”
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 two women boarders, expected to share a double 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 1800s have if they chose not to marry?
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.  Willimantic Industry and community, a book by our local lost 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 Massachusetts Mills.

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.

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?

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.  

Last on a Match, the sequel to Summer ice is set in Taftville, Norwich/Preston and New York City.  It
follows Felicity White on her journey from small town seamstress to the madhouse and to New York
City as a fashion designer.  Her personal struggles finally find resolution as she enters adulthood.

The Ledge Light, the tomboyish farm girl Marty Green follows her unplanned destiny to work at the little lighthouse in the Long Island Sound, adventures ensue.

Research Books

In preparing to write historic fiction novels set in Eastern Connecticut during the 1800s – 1900s, I have 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 Connecticut (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
Ten Days in a Madhouse (Bly)
Conscience and Convenience (Rothman)
, the Early Years (Dugas)
Taftville, Conn. and the Industrial Revolution (Dugas)
The Lives They Left Behind (Penney & Stastny)
The Ledge Light Seventh in the Shetucket River Milltown
A Modern History of New London County (Marshall)
Instructions to Light Keepers (Dept. of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Lighthouses)
Guardians of the Light (Elinor De Wire)
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)
The Woman Who Toils (Vorst)
Current Reading:
Forensics for Dummies (D. P. Lyle, MD)

  (c) copyright 2010-2023 by Diana K. Perkins