Using Story to Explore Questions

When I was young, so young I barely remember those times, my father told me stories. I don’t remember that he ever told me fairy tales. He told me stories from history, from the books he was constantly reading. I grew up on stories of middle Tennessee, where we lived, and others from American history, including World War II and the beginnings of the Cold War.

If he had the chance, he would have been, I’m sure, a marvelous teacher of history to young people. Unfortunately, his formal schooling ended two years into high school after he dropped out to support parents and younger siblings.

I never heard him complain about it. He enjoyed the opportunities that came to him. He loved working with young people in our church. He read widely, from history and sometimes novels.

When our family visited historic sites on family vacations, he told us stories that encouraged our imagination about the events that happened there. And he passed his penchant for history to me.

I didn’t become a history teacher, either. I turned to journalism, then other circumstances intervened. My years of working overseas in U.S. embassies and consulates fed that love of history, of exploring how and why countries were different or alike.

As the world changed dramatically in those years, I wanted to know what led to those changes. I explored the events and processes happening years, decades, even centuries ago leading to today’s current events.

I write novels to explore what happened to the people in the midst of those changes. Fiction frees our imagination to see beyond the facts and encourages flashes of insight.

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