Inspirational author Jennifer Hudson Taylor is creating fictional characters from her ancestors - sometimes unexpectedly!
|Ever wondered who your ancestors were? What they were like? What circumstances drove them from their homeland to where you are today?
I wonder about these things. With my vivid imagination, I’ve dared to delve into my family genealogy and bring my ancestors back to life in my fiction.
Authors often use personal experiences in their novels. Why not unique genealogies from detailed research?
When I discovered some court records that my ancestor Elijah Hudson was the first person in Darlington County, South Carolina, to emancipate a slave in 1810, I couldn’t help but wonder why. He had other slaves. Why not them? What was so fascinating about this particular slave, Ben, that Elijah would go to court to release him as a free man into society? Keep in mind this is nearly 50 years before the Civil War abolished slavery. Therefore, I created a reason, thus a new fiction novel was born. It isn’t yet published, but my agent is shopping it around.
My family surnames of Galloway, Gregory, and Frazier are all Scottish. Even though I’ve written two Scottish romance novels, I did not base them on any of these families, but nevertheless, one strange occurrence did happen. I started writing my debut novel, Highland Blessings:, in 1998. Eleven years later in January 2009, I discovered an ancestor, Nancy Ann Morgan. The description I found of her greatly resembles the description I had created of Akira MacKenzie, the heroine in Highland Blessings:.
Excerpt From Highland Blessings:
Tall for a woman, Akira wasn’t used to a man’s height equaling her own, but this MacPhearson was a giant. His massive shoulders blocked the sun’s rays, filtering through the trees....Strands of golden-red hair lifted from her shoulder and brushed against her face....“Ye’re no ordinary woman.” He crossed his arms and circled Akira, observing her. She could feel the heat of his blazing gaze travel the length of her. “Any other woman would have fled.” He paused in front of her and looked into her eyes. “`Twas as if ye were determined to stand yer ground and wait for me."
Akira is bold and courageous. Her weapon of choice--a broad sword. (Year: 1473)
Excerpt from Our Morgan Family Genealogy Page:
Nancy Ann Morgan, whose married name was Nancy Morgan Hart, defied the Tories during the American Revolutionary War. She stood six feet tall and had flaming red hair. She was renowned for her marksmanship with a musket. The neighboring Indians called her "Wahatchee," meaning "The War Woman". (Year: abt. 1785)
Is this a mere coincidence or a sign that I’m on the writing path meant for me?
Either way, I find it fascinating.
As an inspirational writer, I’ve always thought of history as HIStory—that is—the Creator who has witnessed every event, the life of every person who ever lived. Think of all the history that was never written in a history book, but is waiting to be discovered through research and reawakened by our imaginations. Part of that discovery could be your history.
Which of your ancestors would make an intriguing character in an historical romance novel?
I’m looking forward to whose story I’ll discover next.
- Jennifer Hudson Taylor