Sally A. Laughlin
What makes a person want to write, to tell a story, whether it be fact or fiction? For every writer, there is a different reason why they write, but we all have one thing in common - we are storytellers.
My journey into writing was a very difficult one. Education in the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio in the 1950s was at iffy at best. Some kids got good teachers, but unfortunately, I was not one of them. When our family moved to a more upscale suburb of Cleveland, well, it didn’t improve much. English teachers would hold up my papers and use them as an example of what not to do. Instead of trying to guide and help me, they chose to ridicule me. The stories churning about in my mind slowly began to fade away.
Soon reality, and everything it held, silenced my stories. I married and had two daughters. Many years later, there was a divorce. A few years after that, I married and acquired three more daughters. During this second marriage, I became a police officer, and a year later I became a detective. My job was to investigate child and elder abuse, along with training police officers in how to deal with domestic violence. I spoke before the Ohio State Senate to bring about the reform of the domestic violence laws in Ohio. The ugliness associated with my investigations brought back my love of reading. It took me away from all the troubles the victims were going through – if even for an hour.
And then it happened. The stories that I had silence in my head were starting to resurface. The more I read, the more restless they became: I had to write.
After the kids were grown, and I was an empty nester, I decided to go to the university and get my degree. And to my surprise, and relief, my papers were no longer held up for ridicule. It gave me the confidence to start my journey into writing.
Suddenly, writing became my world. I became obsessed with it. I would awake early in the morning before I went to work to write. After work I would sit and write until the wee hours of the night, and loving every frustrating moment. There never, at least for me, seemed to be a loss for ideas. My first four books, a science fantasy series, were so much fun for me to write. I fell in love with that genre after reading J.R.R.Tolkens, The Hobbit. Reading is so selective to everyone, some like their fantasy novels to be dark – never liked dark. The job I had to do was dark-enough. So, I made the choice that my books would be filled with adventure, humor and great characters.
When I was sixteen years old, my grandfather came to live with us. I was bored one day and asked him if I could go through his old trunk that was stored in our attic. He smiled, and said absolutely. What I found triggered the next book I wrote: an old diary written by one of my relatives from around the early 1800s. She was escaping to the Americas to avoid being married to a foul old man. She had eloped with a British officer and was subsequently disowned by her family. I was half way through the diary when my mother, unknowingly, threw away the “old, torn, dirty-looking book” resting on my nightstand. The last thing I remember reading in her diary was “never ending water.” This, along with my History degree, gave me the impetus to finish “her journey.”
Fly Toward Death is very close to my heart. I stumbled across a story on the Internet about a Soviet woman pilot during WWII. Being a history major I was baffled. Nowhere, at no time, had I ever heard about these women. Soon I was reading anything and everything I could find about these incredible women. Most of the reading material was interesting, but dry, and very technical. I wanted to honor these women and write something that would make people want to read about them. I took actual facts, gave them a good tweak, and wrote a fictionalized account of these brave, patriotic women. No one knows what they said to each other, because most of them are no longer with us. However, the essence of these women is firmly printed on every page of Fly Toward Death.
Currently, I am happily living in northern Ohio with my sane sister, nutty dog and brat cat.
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