I have just finished writing my second book. It’s a historiographic metafictional novel entitled, “Crown Hill.” For those unsure of the genre, basically it’s a work of fiction based on real people and events. The fun part is that some of the people and the events are part of the true history of my home.
Over the years, I’ve written about my love affair with my home. It all began in 1979, the first time I walked through the door and experienced a sense of welcome in every room, delighted in the beauty of the surrounding landscape and, most significantly, became enthralled with the vintage wrap around porch, complete with distant lake view.
When I finally purchased my home, 16 years after that first walk through, I had no thoughts of writing a book. Truthfully, the time and effort required to revive the 150 year old farmhouse was more than enough to keep me busy for ten years. However, during that time, I received an anonymous letter informing me of a death that had occurred in the late 1880’s in an old shed on my property. The significant detail of the story was that it had never been proven if the death was suicide or murder.
I found the story intriguing, but actually more a haunting history of my home than the basis of a book. It was only upon receiving a phone call from the town assessor, Ferris Randall, that the story of Crown Hill began to form in my mind. According to Ferris, back in the 1920’s one of his distant relatives owned my house as a summer getaway. As he explained, when this relative was on site, he would regularly conduct séances in the house.
Suddenly, a story idea began to evolve in my brain connecting that still unsolved 1880’s death and these 1920’s spirit sessions. It was an idea that blossomed into a book outline with the added information from a neighbor that Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, visited my home in the early 1920’s. From that point, Crown Hill was born.
It’s been a seven year process, fitting my home’s historic puzzle pieces into prosaic place. The progression has been inconsistent and uneven, primarily due to the fact that life kept getting in the way, delaying my writer’s methodology. Yet each year I found more information validating the fictional story that I was weaving around Crown Hill’s real people and events. Each year I edited and improved the blending of their facts with my fiction.
Along my novelist’s journey, I consulted with a medium, met with an expert on paranormal activity, researched online and in historical records in Buffalo, Eden and at The University of Michigan’s Clemens Library. I was given the book’s title by a neighbor in the form of a concrete Crown Hill sign he discovered while grading land behind my home, pretty close to that old shed. Using it seemed more than appropriate. I also received helpful bits and pieces from Eden neighbors and friends, as well as from former owners of my home, all who heard about my project and wanted to share their memories and wisdoms.
More than anyone, though, the greatest influence on what has ultimately become this 36-chapter Crown Hill novel is my home. I have lived longer here than any other place, almost 18 years. In that time, I have learned about love and friendship, experienced every imaginable home disaster, suffered loss of both life and possessions, faced and conquered the true meaning of being alone and discovered the inestimable value of family on so many levels and in so many terms. Most of all, I have learned the true meaning of home as a place of peace and welcome.
It is my deepest hope that when Crown Hill publishes, the story does my home justice.
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