Inspiration from War and Resistance

Novelists are often told, “write what you know.” That’s not quite right. They should learn what they don’t know. Then when they write, they write from a place of knowing. I wanted to write about everyday people who decide to fight for their freedom. So I turned to history again. I needed inspiration for my then in-progress novel, My Soul to Keep. I looked for character inspiration from war and resistance. I found a lot more. Google is my friend. I searched for resistance and freedom fighters. Scanning hundreds of articles about resistance groups or rebels or freedom fighters I looked for firsthand accounts. I read a lot of articles. Articles about the American Revolution, the Syrian Civil War, and the Polish, the Yugoslavian, the Dutch, and the French resistance fighters in WWII. Syrian Civil War and Reality There were two resources I returned to over and over again. I found a number of YouTube videos about the Syrian Civil War. These were videos not for the faint of heart. They showed the real brutality of war, the spirit of resistance, and the destruction of homes and lives. It also showed the resilience of the human spirit. People lived in the […]

Inspired by a Maximum Security Prison

In My Soul to Keep, Miranda Clarke lands in Redemption, a prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. Redemption bears a striking resemblance to the real federal penitentiary in Leavenworth. That’s right, I was inspired by a maximum security prison. The Beginning In 1871 the United States realized that the stockades and fort prisons were inadequate. Congress passed the “Three Prisons Act” in 1891. This law authorized the federal government’s first three penitentiaries: USP Leavenworth, USP Atlanta, and USP McNeil Island. It also led to the creation of the federal prison system and, in 1930, the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas is an imposing structure of white limestone. It sits twenty-five miles northwest of Kansas City, Kansas. Construction began in March 1897. The central dome of the facility led to its nicknames, the “Big Top” and the “Big House.” It was the first of the three penitentiaries to house prisoners. Famous Inmates The federal prison opened in 1903 to its first 418 prisoners. The first cell house wasn’t complete until 1904. Originally built to house 1,200 prisoners, the inmate population rose to 3,362. (Currently, the population is almost 1,800 inmates.) Initially a maximum security facility, it was downgraded […]

Declarations of Truth, Honor, and Independence

No discussion of Independence Day in the United States of America would be complete without talking about the document. The Declaration of Independence is more than a historical document. It is not a law or set of laws. It’s a statement of ideology. An ideology of truth, honor, and independence. An ideology that is controversial at times. And one of the documents that all Americans should know and study. Yet few of us know more than the famous lines and many argue over the meaning of specific words and phrases. If your memory is spotty, or you don’t know if you’ve read the document, take a moment to listen or read the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, the Second Congression Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. Yet, most of the delegates had not signed it until later. Did you know that eight of the fifty-six delegates who signed the declaration were born in Great Britain? There are four major points covered by the Declaration. That All men have equal and God-given rights, When a government must be overthrown and a new government must be set up, When another revolution may be justified,”  And the declaration that we are free and a pledge […]