I’ve written before about being in love with words (Words, Words, Words, posted May 10, 2012). I read compulsively — cereal boxes at the breakfast table, dictionaries, encyclopedias, the backs of bottles. I read for information (whether I need it or not), for recreation and for relaxation. I seldom read any story that is less than 1000 pages whether it’s in one volume or a trilogy. From interviews of authors that I’ve read they all are avid readers. In fact, I think reading the works of good authors is one of the best ways to learn how to write. It’s akin to children who read a great deal being natural spellers.
One of my favorite authors is Eugenia Price. She began her writing career penning books for Christian women. She ventured into historical fiction with a series of books set on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The first book in the trilogy was entitled Lighthouse about the residents of the island and a relative newcomer, New Englander James Gould, who constructed the St. Simons Lighthouse and was it’s first keeper.
The Gould family and their pastor, Anson Dodge, were real people and through her research and her gifted writing, Ms. Price makes those people come alive. As a reader I cheered their successes and bemoaned their trials. With them I lived through the Civil War and the years leading up to and following it. Eugenia Price made me feel like I belonged on that island — that I belonged to those people.
When I was on St. Simons Island I visited the reconstructed lighthouse (the first was destroyed during the Civil War) and lingered in the room that was set aside in honor of Eugenia Price. Among the informational displays — which included the typewriter she used — was a written piece that remarked on how people revered the island and the people she wrote about because it created in them a sense of belonging. So true.
Eugenia Price died in 1 996. I cried when I heard the news because I knew there would be no more wonderful books by her.
While I was on the island I visited the church cemetery and viewed the graves of James Gould and his descendents and of Anson Dodge and his family. I cried again. They were real people that, though gone when I first learned of them, were alive to me. They live on through the St. Simons Island trilogy and in the hearts of those who have read the books.
My fervent hope, as I work on becoming a good writer, is that I can bring people and places as vividly alive as Eugenia Price did.
Do you have a favorite author? What did you most like about them? Has he or she inspired you in your own writing? How?