I was intrigued by the topic of historical fiction and made the trek to Marin to hear Ellen Klages speak on June 30th.
Huddled behind high school desks, a group of about 30 attendees listened as Ellen sat atop the teacher’s desk with her legs crossed, looking like she belonged in a classroom. It’s always interesting to hear the journey of other writers. A publisher approached Ellen after she had read one of her adult short stories at a conference. The publisher told her she should write young adult and asked her to submit a manuscript. If only we could all be so lucky. Ellen balked, but eventually found a suitable short story that she could modify for a younger audience. Yet, despite being recruited, her completed manuscript sat unread for many months on various desks. Alas, the path to publishing is never smooth. Eventually, her first novel, “The Green Glass Sea” was published and her work has since received the Scott O’Dell award.
Ellen talked about the research process, a topic that elicits great passion. The extent of the detail needed to capture an era can be daunting. She has a whole bookshelf on the Manhattan Project and the World War II period that comprises the setting of her YA novel. Apparently, the one mistake that a reader has uncovered was that the color of the band aids was white, not pink, in pre-atomic bomb era.
I did not glean as much practical advice on re-working my own historical fiction novel as I had hoped. Still, I was intrigued enough by the subject matter in “The Green Glass Sea” to want to purchase her novel and was disappointed when she sold out by the time I got to the end of the line. I have since purchased her book while visiting Ashland (yes, independent bookstores still exist) and am looking forward to a good read.