I’d like to start this week’s blog with my grandmother Mary Emma Gould Moody who is mentioned in my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: a Memoir. In the book I’d gone, by myself, to see an intuitive reader and her first comment was, “Who is that feisty little old lady walking in behind you? She is short with her gray hair done up in a bun.” That could only be my grandmother, my mother’s mother, and the Intuitive got her first name Mary immediately but struggled to get the next, Emma. She was known throughout her life as Mary Emma. I’m not sure if my grandmother is my inspiration or my coach. When I decided to write A Bird and the Dragon I went back in my mind to the book my grandmother had written in her later years so that the following generations could know about her life and the husband who died so early in their marriage. When my
grandmother submitted her book to a book publisher he turned it down because he said the English language that she used in the book was archaic. She never presented the book again to a publisher, and back then there were no self-publishing companies. Long after her death, my cousin had the manuscript in his files. He and his wife decided to do the editing and have it published so each one of her decedents could have a copy. When I’m feeling lonely and neglected I pick up her book, Mary Emma of the Square House, and I am back in her kitchen and I hear her inviting me to have a glass of milk and cookies from her cookie jar. From her grave she lifts my spirits and assures me that I can do whatever it is that has me frightened and stuck.
I believe that writing is in the blood or the DNA. Mary Emma’s brother, Franklin F. Gould, wrote only one book, Maine Man in the Making, about his experiences growing up in Maine, though the book is known throughout New England. His son, my mother’s cousin, John Thomas Gould was well known in the state of Maine and across the country for his thirty books and his many articles in most major American newspapers and magazines. Some of his book titles include, Farmer takes a Wife, The House that Jacob Built, and his last, Tales from the Rhapsody Home. He also had a regular column in the Christian Science Monitor. L.L. Bean threw John a wonderful ninetieth birthday party because over the years in his writing he featured the type of people that are traditionally L.L. Bean buyers—New Englanders to the core. John’s brother, Franklin Farra Gould, Jr., wrote a book late in life entitled, The Woman’s Right: A Story of a Maine Grandmother This book can also be found on Amazon.com. And what I didn’t know until I did the research on these family connections is that I have the original manuscript for Franklin Jr.’s book in my closet. I inherited the manuscript when my mother passed away. My mother was not pleased with the book because she was brought up with a very different view of her grandmother, the heroine of the book. I never read the manuscript, just became the caretaker. Now, I think I need to read the book!!
My mother, Jordan Elizabeth Sanderson, wrote a weekly column, ‘The Women’s World’ for our local newspaper and was the girl Friday in the paper’s office for much of my teen life. She also was a regional correspondent for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in Massachusetts. Mother never dared to write a book but did keep diaries all her life. Her brother and my uncle Ralph, whom I’ve blogged about before, got my mother an invitation to submit some of her short stories to his publisher. She turned down the offer because she was sure the offer was only coming because her brother Ralph was a best-selling author. I believe that my mother was afraid her work would be torn apart by editors. Better not to have run at all than to have lost the race!
My first blog was about my uncle, Ralph Moody, the author of Little Britches, Man of the
Family, The Fields of Home, and Mary Emma and Company. Ralph Moody was a best-selling author in the fifties and sixties with many more books to his credit than I have listed here. I have only listed those books about his growing up years and the family life. You can still find these books on Amazon.com. In fact I had been researching his books a few months before my book appeared on Amazon.com. The first day when I dared to look to see if my book was finally on the site, I plugged in my name and sure enough up came A Bird and the Dragon: A Love Story: a Memoir and directly below it was Little Britches. My first thought was how did they know?!!
That takes care of Mother’s side of the family. On my father’s side his uncle, Charles Bemis, was a salaried correspondent and column writer for the Boston Globe for many years. Charles’s son, Samuel Flagg Bemis wrote many books on various political issues and was termed the ‘founding father’ for the field of diplomatic history in the United States. Perhaps his best known work was his two volumes on John Quincy Adams for which he took one of his two Pulitzer prizes. The picture below is of my father’s cousin Samuel Flagg Bemis.
That’s the writing side—a bit impressive. And now, to my formal training to write! I took the Long Ridge Writers correspondence course. I spent two weeks for two summers at the Wesleyan Writers Conference in Middletown, CT. I took one semester of writing at Mitchell College in New London, CT. There I won the Eugene O’Neal prize for writing that year. So what is your verdict? I can write because the ability has run down the DNA of my families or because of my training? Then again you may be saying after this somewhat puffed up rendition of the writers behind me, I may be all talk and no action. Go buy my first book and see for yourselves!