A Family History Discussion

Last week a reader asked me a question on Facebook. She asked: “What discoveries in your own family history influenced or inspired the novel?”

I was happy to get her question, and happy to answer it here on the blog. Family history is a central theme of The House at Rose Creek. And indeed, discoveries in my own family history played a large part in inspiring the story of Ian Wylie, Kate’s ancestor and the writer of the journal that Kate reads throughout the novel.

For those that haven’t read the book (yet), a brief summary: Ian Wylie is the great grandfather four times over of the novel’s main character, Kate Sinclair. Generations before Kate was even born, Ian wrote a journal of his experiences that Kate later finds in the attic of the family’s old farmhouse. In the journal, Ian writes of journeying to America, from Scotland, in hopes of meeting his father. Unfortunately when he arrives, all is not as he expected. (Telling you more would ruin the story so, you know, perhaps you could buy a copy to see what happens next. Ahem. Yes. Yes that was a shameless plug.)


This is James Armstrong Kinmont Wylie, my great, great, great grandfather.

Wylie is actually a family name in my own ancestry, on my mother’s side. In the mid 1800’s, James Armstrong Kinmont Wylie traveled to the United States from Scotland. Six years later, he booked passage for his wife Agnes, and their children. My great, great grandfather, Charles George Washington Walls Juniper Wylie (I know! Some name, huh?!) was the first of James and Agnes’ children to be born in the United States, which likely inspired them including “George Washington” as a part of his name.

When I thought about this story, I was moved by the great lengths that a father would go to in hopes of securing a better future for his family. James Wylie was separated from his family for six years. I’ll never know the particulars of his decision, but I feel comfortable in supposing that the separation was only endured because it had to be.

Though our ancestors lived long before us, in a different time, the human struggles of their existence were, in many ways, just like ours. They lived and loved and struggled and endured and hoped for their families just like we do. And that’s something worth remembering.

At first, the names on your family tree may only feel like faceless names and birth dates, but it IS possible to bring those names to life. Once you start digging and asking questions about who your ancestors were, though they may be slow at first, the connections will come. Towards the end of the novel, a volunteer at Rose Creek’s historical museum tells Kate that sometimes we get so busy looking forward, we forget to look back.

I believe there is value in looking back, in remembering who our ancestors were, and considering how they contributed to who we are today.

FAQ: Why the LDS before Author?

So, funny story… one of the most frequently asked questions I got on my last blog was, and I’m not kidding, “Is Clay Aiken Mormon?”

I was asked so frequently, I finally wrote a post answering the question (he’s not) hoping this would keep the inquisitive emails at bay. I can only figure that because I’m a Mormon, and there was a season of my life when I really, really LOVED Clay Aiken (Don’t judge. The guy can really sing.) people decided I MUST know the answer. Which, I guess I sort of DID know the answer. But still. It was weird.

This, however, is not such a weird question.

Why do I call myself an LDS Author?

First, LDS stands for Latter-day Saint, the last three words to the extremely long title of my church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We’re also (and more frequently) known as Mormons. I identify my faith when I identify myself as an author because for right now, my books include elements of my faith, and my publisher publishes content that adheres to the standards and principles of my faith. That doesn’t mean everything is exclusively “Mormon.” While my books certainly contain Mormon characters, I still believe (and hope) they can be enjoyed by people of any faith. The guarantee that comes with reading LDS fiction is that you will never stumble into content that is inappropriate or offensive. No sex, no smut, no swear words. (It’s true. I always stick one into my manuscripts just to see if I can sneak one through, but my editor’s good. She catches them every time.)

It seems like it’s getting increasingly harder to find fiction that doesn’t contain superfluous and unnecessary filth. I’m proud to be part of a genre that guarantees a good clean read, something you don’t have to hide under a pillow if your kid walks up and says, “Hey Mom, what are you reading?”