All this week Aunt Clara was here… and on December 8, 2022, we celebrated my 43rd birthday… At a bookstore called Eighth Day, Clara bought me 4 books and Mom bought me 3. Then we went to Barnes & Noble, where we had a snack and looked around the bookstore–but bought no books. After that we went to a restaurant, Red Rocks. It is my favorite restaurant in Wichita… I hope doing all of this was not too much stress for Mom. She commented on being tired that Thursday. Yet perhaps the most important thing about this week was how things were going business wise. One of my agents said that it would be 2 months when I had to go to New York City to sign the contract with HarperCollins. The other one said he is also talking to HarperCollins. We shall see how it goes.
The thing is that at the moment of seeing light at the end of the tunnel as an author, my mother’s mind is fading. She doesn’t always recognize me. It isn’t her fault, mind you… My older sister does not make things easier: she blames Mom for being sick.
I hope to have A History of Frances Westin Williams done in time for Mom to have it… it is a biography of my maternal grandmother, Mom’s mother. To complete my book, I need to read:
- Swedish history-from the Viking (The Cambridge History of the Vikings); to the Napoleonic Wars (in which I had two ancestors who fought; to the period when Swedes came to America; and the Modern History of Sweden (how Raoul Wallenberg saved 100,000 Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.
- Swedish literature- beginning with Icelandic sagas (two of which involve Vikings coming to America); to Sigrid Undset’s Nobel Prize winning Kristin Lavransdatter; to Pippi Longstocking; and Selma Lagerlöf, whose The Saga of Gösta Berling won the first Nobel Prize for a woman and for a Swede. However, I prefer The Adventures of Nils and Further Adventures of Nils by Lagerlöf.
- I also need to read about the pioneering period (Great Grandpa liked James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales and Grandma had a copy of Twain’s Roughing It); I also have my Grandma’s genealogical history typed up on my computer. One story which is purely Grandma was a History of Boston Corbet for a newspaper. Boston Corbet gained his notoriety–among other things–from shooting and killing John Wilkes Booth. Eventually he would be placed in a hospital for the criminally insane. Grandma seemed to find him quite a character…
- Finally, I shall reread my books about the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Pawnee, both their histories and their mythologies… I am thinking I may look into the Fox and Sac tribes, to see if they also were ever in the State of Kansas. Grandma among her things said that the tribes who had existed in the area where she was a pioneer included the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Pawnee.
The thing is that while I work on A History of Frances Westin Williams, I am haunted by Tales of the Firebird Part I. It is my writing about Russia, Poland, Ukraine, the people of Chechnya and hopefully the Baltic region. I want to write more about Central Asia, which was ruled by Russia, then the Soviet Union, and now is in danger of becoming a Russian satellites once more. However, first I will write about European Russia first because of what is going on in Ukraine… this is probably an injustice of sorts: Tajikistan and Kazakhstan ought to matter to the world as much as Ukraine… nonetheless, because of the current suffering in Ukraine, I will limit “Part I” to a book about the states which were once satellites of Imperial Russia and the U.S.S.R. Then I shall try to publish it…
Yet because Mom is ill, I feel a special need to write about Grandma. And I hope that Mom lives to see me successful as a writer: having sold several books to traditional publishers and therefore finally economically self-sufficient. That is the light of the tunnel for me.