My second novel is nearing completion!

May 22, 2021

I have given (what I hope to be) my near final manuscript to my first critical reader. He always provides unfailing insight and, no doubt, will give me plenty of feedback which I will consider incorporating into my final draft. Yet I feel confident that I am almost there. Although completely different from Burden of Remembrance in its historical period, setting, and narrative frame, this second novel of mine touches on similar themes of family struggle, haunting memories, secrets, and mystery. Of course, every story needs a hefty dose of mystery in order to keep the reader engaged, yet the true-life mystery is what compelled me to write this.

A Melancholy Union is based upon the lives of my immigrant great-great-grandparents. They were two of the one million Irish who emigrated during or just after the great Irish Potato Famine which killed one million. What intrigued me was that, although my mother knew all about great-great-grandma Julia and her children, including two from a previous marriage, Mom knew nothing about great-great-grandpa other than he fought in the Civil War. (Presumably for the Union, but she was not even certain about that.) She didn’t even know his first name! Mom had been close to her grandmother — Julia’s daughter Sarah — who spoke freely of the other members of her family including her mother’s first husband, so why was Sarah silent on the subject of her father? Why this shroud of mystery?

Genealogy and history are my passions, and I am especially fascinated by the Civil War period, have been since I was ten years old. Therefore, it is not surprising that I was compelled to delve into this mystery. I discovered great-great-grandpa’s name was Samuel by requesting great-grandma Sarah’s birth certificate from New Jersey. After years of research, I finally discovered in which regiment he fought which enabled me to request a record search from the National Archives. I was pleasantly overwhelmed when I received a 70-page treasure trove of his military and medical records, all copies of contemporary hand-written documents and notations which included his family member’s names thereby verifying that he was, indeed, my Samuel. In wading through all of this information, I discovered that he fought in some of the bloodiest battles including Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Additional bits of tantalizing mystery sent me to further research including trips to Philadelphia, Gloucester City New Jersey, and Dayton Ohio, where I obtained a one-page document which provided a salient clue.

It was this family mystery and the clue to a probable solution, which led me to write A Melancholy Union. Although I followed the facts wherever possible, I had to rely on my imagination for most of the story line as well as resolving the mystery that haunted my mother’s family to the extent that Samuel was nearly erased from memory.

As with writing Burden of Remembrance, this my second novel has been a labor of love. I hope readers find the story of Samuel and Julia – a tribute to all immigrants – entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

I hope to publish this before year’s end. Watch for updates!

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