Saturday, February 12, 2011

Show & Tell Saturday with Kathleen Gallagher

I may have mentioned in another post how I got my inspiration for my upcoming release Echoes at Dawn, but I’ll use this opportunity to elaborate.  Old black and white photos have always fascinated me.  I found a family portrait from the early 1900’s.  I’m not sure what the occasion was, but the relatives gathered adorned in their fancy outfits.  The expressions on their faces lacked enthusiasm and were absent of smiles.  The little girls even looked somber.  I starting thinking about how different the snapshots from that era seemed, compared to the one’s today.  Everyone always looked so serious back then.  There had to be an explanation, I surmised.  I began to research articles and came up with different concepts.  I read about the technology taking longer to capture a shot, making it difficult to maintain a smile while waiting.  Another couple of theories I found were the lack of proper dental care may have kept people from showing their smile, or posing devices making it uncomfortable.  Some speculate about the stress of a difficult life keeping them from looking happy. Others say the portrait may have been the only one ever taken for people to remember them by, so they chose a stoic pose.  I’d say it’s most likely a combination of all of the factors.

 Family and photo sessions have changed dramatically over the years. Today we are told to say a catch phrase for the camera and most of us automatically brighten our expression.  We usually welcome the opportunity to show our smile.  The mystery behind the old photo made me curious. I found a vintage frame for it and displayed it in my house.

As time went on, I began to wonder more about the lives of the people in the picture. Were the little girls anxious to return home to play with their dolls? Or were they tired from doing their chores?  Could they be anticipating a party afterwards?  Were the husbands and wives arguing, or exchanging fond embraces earlier in the day?  After staring at the girls wearing the frilly dresses with matching bows, my imagination took over.  They became twins with a special bond. Do twins have a connection unlike other pairs of siblings?  What would happen if one of them left this world early?  I began to piece together what turned out to be the premise for my paranormal romantic read, Echoes at Dawn.

The strangely intertwined lives of a widowed mother, a charismatic bachelor, and an elderly woman come together in order to show that in life there are no coincidences, only destiny.
Madeline Young loves her job as a chef in a waterfront restaurant. Her love life is where she has problems.  She realizes she must stop dating the wrong men, especially ones that are too young for her, or she’ll spend the rest of her life alone.  To complicate matters further, her elderly and, often times, forgetful mother needs to move in.  Then, to make matters even worse, Madeline's rebellious teenage son spends a day in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning.  Madeline's mother wants her to find true happiness and feels compelled to enlist the help of her deceased twin sister, Mary, by using her Ouija Board.  Together, they conjure up a plan to find Madeline the perfect match.  Madeline has an early dawn visit from Aunt Mary, who directs her to volunteer in a local hospital.   Madeline finds much more than she ever expected when she enters the hospital’s center for recovery. 
Nathaniel Griffin fascinates his clients with his lectures, but often uses his busy schedule to avoid social situations.  In keeping with this philosophy, Nat prefers to keep his personal life very private.  However, when given the assignment to orient a lovely new volunteer, her seductive charms soon tug at his heartstrings.  Unfortunately, before he can commit to the relationship, Nat must confront his marred past.  Is he willing to face his demons, or take the easier path and remain isolated?   
The unexpected return of twins who left this world early, carry the key to unlock the reluctant bachelor’s past.  They are called upon to perform one final mission of love before they can rest. Will they accomplish their assignment or will it be too late?
It can be fun creating stories after looking at old photos.  Have you ever wondered about what was going on in the lives of your ancestors after looking at their old images? 


Maureen said...

Ah, if only I had access to photos old enough to not know the truth behind the poses...maybe I'd find some inspiration!

But I imagine any old photo could be used... I have a framed reproduction of a painting, a small one, from the time when painters were choosing natural settings and I often look at it and can imagine a story set I'm not totally hopeless! ;-)

It's very luminous and does spark ideas!

JM said...

I have a picture of my grandparents after they just got married, and there is not one smile on any of the eight people standing there. I know they love each other now, but back then you didn't talk about stuff like that. To this day, I've never heard my grandfather tell my grandmother he loves her.
There was a lot of restraint and hardship back then. Maybe a marriage was just another day of work for them.
Great post. Love the pic at the top.

Deena said...

I have a passport picture of my grandmother and all but one of her kids, who was born in Canada. No smiles at all. In fact, they all look a bit different. Dejected mom, defiant older son, clueless youngest son (my father), and a scared daughter. SIgn of the times at hand - pogroms in Poland forced them to leave. Great post Kathleen! Loved the pondering it evoked!

Kathleen said...

Maureen; The photo you describe sounds like it could evoke a great story. Ah, a mystery to unfold. Thanks for visiting!

JM; I love to imagine what life was like for our grandparents. Thanks so much!

Deena; It's so true, Deena. An old photo makes us think and tells quite a story. Thanks for stopping by!

Hugs to all!

Author Leanne Dyck said...

To answer your question, while in northern Iceland I explored an exhibited dedicated to old photos. I was informed that they were the only remaining images of someone's distant relatives. The curator hoped to play match maker--matching these pictures to living relatives. As I toured the exhibit I was caught by these people. They had a bewitching effect on me. I was sadden by their abandonment, but hopeful that they would soon be found--and I soon was lost in story.
Thank you for this interesting post, Kathleen, and all the best for you and your book.

Kathleen said...

Leanne; The exhibit in Northern Iceland sounds fascinating. It's a wonderful idea to try to find someone's distant relatives. I'm always intrigued by anything from the past. Thanks so much for your comment.

Maureen said...

So much of my deeper past is simply lost...records not kept, secrets kept quite well!

But I may scan my little painting and use it on a blog post to prompt some writing ideas...

Kathleen said...

It's too bad the past gets lost. I wish I would have asked more questions when my parents were still around.

Have fun with your painting! Something great may come out of it.

Maureen said...

My grandad purposely kept it all secret, as did his wife...and on the other side of the family, pretty much the same thing!

Must be some powerful scandals back there!

Which can spark a lot of ideas, actually...though what the past thought scandalous sometimes doesn't even cross the line in modern time.

Kathleen said...

They had their share of bizarre happenings, I'm sure. This topic is so interesting!

Thanks, Maureen.