Monday, December 16, 2013

Science and Fiction, but Not Combined

by Holley Trent

Truth: a lot of what I know about the setting of my upcoming paranormal romance Love by Premonition—Enfield, North Carolina—is based on my own family tree research. I grew up a couple of counties east, but my maternal grandfather, Frank, was born in Halifax County and left as soon as he could.

I know that sounds bad, but he was a man with a Big-Fish-Small-Pond type of personality. He was also prone to telling tall tales, and I could never tell which of his stories were truth and which were fiction. He was particularly mystifying when it came to his ethnic background. Kinda like Marcia, my LbP heroine. But, unlike Gramps, Marcia is capable of itemizing her heritage. She had a little supernatural help at it. Gramps could only guess based on best available information.

Because miscegenation was illegal around the time Gramp’s grand- and great-grandparents were doing it, there’s very little legal evidence that can be used to establish several of his ancestors’ paternities. Death records may list a father, but depending on who provided the information, those reports may be false. Gramps may have been told the names of his mysterious grandfathers, but he likely didn’t know much about them.

And that’s how I came to setting a book in contemporary Enfield. The more I researched my holey family tree, the more befuddled and intrigued I became about the citizens. I’ve even toyed around with the idea of writing a historical romance set there, but I can’t come up with single darned plot that would have a happily-ever-after ending. (Maybe Gramp’s Enfield sentiments rub off on me in that way.)

My sister and I always thought it’d be a hoot to take one of those ancestry composition tests so we could have a better idea of which of Gramp’s “facts” were grounded in reality. I had forgotten all about that until I got a letter in the mail from the national blood marrow donor registry. In it, they told me I have an uncommon HLA type. (That happens when your components are like fruit punch—melded together and unidentifiable.) Means I’ll probably never be a marrow match for anyone.

Anyhow, that letter reminded me about that test and a couple of weeks ago I sent a spit sample to the lab. They’re gonna analyze my DNA and tell me what I am…more or less. There may be enough information there to separate Gramp’s facts from rumors, or the results may raise even more questions. I know where, more or less, my father’s parents came from, so any wildcards will come from Enfield Gramps.

I’m supposed to get results in 4-6 weeks—just in time for Love by Premonition’s debut. Marcia knows exactly what she is ’cause that’s the way I made her, but I’ve got to rely on science for the same info about myself.

It’ll be interesting to see how similar I am to a fictional character of my own creation.

Holley Trent is the author of Executive Decision, Mrs. Roth’s Merry Christmas, and Her Resident Jester – all available now from Calliope Romance. Marcia’s story Love by Premonition will be available May 3.

To see all of Holley Trent's Musa Publishing books, please click HERE.

If you want to learn the results of Holley’s 23 and Me test and how far off her guess they were, check her blog in late April or early May.

3 comments:

  1. I love family history and genetics. Those past relatives are so much more interesting than dry names and dates.

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  2. The interesting thing is all these months later, the results are still being refined, so I'll check into the website and see they've added some new component that'll make me scratch my head. >_<

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  3. Amazing how DNA can solve so many mysteries these days. Thanks for an interesting blog Holley.

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