Writing for a YA Audience: Family History Packs a Punch

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

I’m obsessed with history.  While some people find history depressing, I find it all fascinating, even the parts about serfs and the plague.  Those were times that came before us.  Those people built up the world we live in today.  My ancestors made me who I am through the passing of genetics.

I’d never done much research into my family tree.  I knew that my dad’s grandparents came from Poland.  My mom’s paternal grandparents came from England and Germany.  Her maternal grandparents were English and German too, and one ancestor fought in the Revolutionary War.  My maternal grandmother always wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, but couldn’t present the legal documents to prove it.

Years ago, people started talking about Ancestry.  I didn’t have the funds to join the website, but it encouraged me to do some digging on my own.  Oh, the things I found!   Websites brought me to other websites, and I eventually did wind up on Ancestry.  Everything I found fascinated me, even at 2am when I was still glued to the computer screen.

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Not only did my maternal grandmother’s ancestors fight in the Revolutionary War, but they also were the original Dutch settlers.  I got a friend hooked on finding out about her family tree, and we discovered she also descended from the first Dutch settlers – the same Dutch settlers who were in my family tree!  We officially dubbed ourselves the Bradt Cousins thanks to our Bradt ancestors.

The more I looked, the more I discovered.  An ancestor of mine was even English royalty!

For a while, I considered writing young adult novels based on their lives.  I even started one about my grandmother, but it felt wrong.  I knew my grandmother, but I didn’t know them.  I didn’t want to write something that wouldn’t reflect their thoughts and feelings.  Instead, I took their names and put them into my books.

Honora is Honoria in ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW.

My grandmother’s maiden name of Clark belongs to Clark in TREASURE DARKLY.

Charity is Charity in PATH TO OLD TALBOT.

Keziah is Keziah in GOAT CHILDREN.

Edna Hammer is Edna in COGLING.

Aeltye is Aeltye in VICTORIAN.

The list goes on.  Maybe someday I will do my best to write about their lives, but for now, I hope they feel honored to have their names featured in books.

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  She may or may not be staring at a supposedly haunted house trying to see faces in the windows. You can connect with Jordan – and point her in the direction of some paranormal activity – via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.

 

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