Monday, October 28, 2013

New Voices: What Happens When a Love of History is Planted in a Young Heart

Today we welcome Annette O'Hare as she tells us why her childhood family field trips influenced her to become a writer.

History In The Making

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

I’ve always been intrigued by history, especially local (Texas) history. I suppose it’s something I picked up from my dad who’s quite the history buff himself.

Dad has a way of talking about things from the past that makes history come to life. For instance, I can remember him taking my brothers and me to the Houston Ship Channel to see the capture site of Santa Anna, President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican army. I feel fortunate to have a father that cared to share his love of history with me. This extremely significant historical site represents a pivotal turning point in Texas history. And after I had children, Dad and Mom took them to the site…along with a visit to the San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas.

When I was eight, my family went on a road trip from Houston, Texas to Destin, Florida. Along the way, my father took us through the Civil War battleground at Vicksburg, Mississippi. At my young age I thought the stop was the most boring thing we ever could have done. Now that I’m…well, let’s just say I’m grown, I wish I had paid more attention!

My love for history encouraged me in my latest writing project, a book series based around the Lighthouse at Point Bolivar, Texas. I’ve always been intrigued by lighthouses and this one in particular because I have a familial connection with the current owners.

The first book in the series is based on a fictional family who is called away from their home in New Orleans to man the Bolivar lighthouse during the Civil War. Upon arrival, the family finds the tower has been completely dismantled because of the war and wasn’t rebuilt until the war was over.

Some things I’ve learned in my research:
1.      There was a Confederate warship named the CSS McRae. That’s my maiden name! Were my ancestors of some significance during the war?
2.      During Hurricane Ike, part of the Civil War Ship Monticello washed up on the Alabama coastline. That wasn’t all that long ago. Look it up to see pictures.
3.      The huge penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas was built before the outbreak of the Civil War.
4.      During the Civil War the penitentiary sold more than two million yards of cotton and nearly 300,000 yards of wool to both civilians and the Confederacy. Wartime cotton production made a profit of $800,000.

I had no idea combining historical facts with a fictional account could be so much fun. I’m so excited to pursue this exciting new writing endeavor. But…now that I know about the CSS McRae, I truly hope I don’t forget about my novel and take up genealogical research instead.

Annette O’Hare is an award-winning Christian fiction author and sketch writer from Porter, Texas. Married to Dan O’Hare in 1985, the O’Hare’s have two sons, Patrick 22, Connor 13 and daughter, Casey 20 and a Weimaraner named Max. Annette is active in her church, leading the drama group and working with AWANAs. The O’Hare’s support the White Oak Wolf Band and the Fighting Texas A&M Aggies. They also enjoy saltwater sport fishing on the Texas Gulf Coast.


Stacey said...

Very interesting article. Your new series sounds great, Annette. There is so much rich history in the New Orleans area, it is a great place to set your book!

Mary L. Hamilton said...

I love history, too, Annette. Thanks for sharing all these interesting facts with us. Your series sounds great!

Linda Kozar said...

Glad I know you, Annetty! All your talk about museums set me to wondering--did you forget to mention "The Prison Museum?" Hehe, that museum tour was one of my personal fans!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great post, Annette! Like you, I got my history-buffness from my parents. Never understood why others thought history was boring!

Have fun with the writing! :-)

Annette O'Hare said...

Thanks Stacey! I agree, New Orleans would be an interesting setting for any book. So much history and mystery!
History is great, isn't it Mary!
Linda, you can keep that Prison Museum! I'm afraid I might get locked up in the pokey! It was fun though!
Aren't parents wonderful Lynn! I just love hearing my dad talk about the things he loves. There's so much to be learned if we will only listen!

Bethany Macmanus said...

Okay, I know you are DYING to find out what connection your family might have to the CSS McRae. When you find out, will you let me know? That is so cool!
Thanks for the Monticello/Ike info, too. I had never heard of that!
Very cool blog post.