It All Starts With The Past.

Fictional home of character Madam Zelda

Fictional home of character Madam Zelda

Well, since the town is calling for my attention I have started by researching the town’s history.

I checked the internet for anything I could find about current Madeira and it’s history I came upon the Historical Society of Madeira website.  I was reading about historical society and asked my friend about the society’s address. Did she know where the office was located? She said it was right next to the library which was right across the street from Zelda’s house!

I felt for sure they could help me find out who owned the house.  I would love to see inside the house to describe all the scenes that would take place in Zelda’s house, which will be a lot.

On the site, I found a newly added section of articles written by a local woman.  Regina Villiers had been writing about Madeira and it’s residents for many years and it was like finding a bag of gold!  She has a really conversational style of writing and you could feel her connection to the area and the history.  I was so excited! I never imagined that this little town had such an intimate wealth of written knowledge about it.  It would make my research so much more ‘intimate’ then only facts.

Over the next few weeks, I got caught up in reading the stories that Mrs. Villiers had written. But what grabbed me was the Hosbrook family.  She was able to give me such details to deaths or accidents and such, but it was something deeper that touch me.  At this writing, I still don’t know what that means, but I’ll let you know as soon as it becomes clear. I know that the Hosbrook clan has an interesting angle for the book even if I didn’t know how yet.

Then I read about Cleo Hosbrook.  Regina really cared for this woman, and through her writing, I cared for her, too.  But it was more of the way that I slipped myself into Miss Hosbrook’s shoes that caught me off guard.  Like Cleo, I was alone in the world and I too am aging by the day and how that awareness impacts my behavior and it must of her’s.

But alas, what I could never fully understand is being in one place all my life, and being involved in that place through my family’s contributions and my own connection to the fiber of the community. And owning the two last family-owned landmarks with no family to leave them to. I hope in the story, I can explore that aspect for my own growth as well as for my audiences.

Soon, on the Historical site, I came across an “audio tour” of the landmarks of Madeira. And I almost wept with joy.  I saw Zelda’s house, or better yet, the Nelle V. Hosbrook home!  Oh, my! I was falling in love with the Hosbrook family through Regina V’s writings and never knowing that the very house that I saw Zelda living in was owned by a branch of the Hosbrook family as was the park located next to the house! Loved the entire setting and it will be the main location for my second protagonist!

And the cherry on top was that Regina Villiers actually did the audio recording on the Historical Society’s website describing both Nelle’s and Cleo’s homes!  So I was able to hear Mrs. Villiers voice talk about the locations that touched both her and the community’s history.

As I perused through Villiers articles: published in The Suburban Life, in 2002, was about a man that came from Madeira. His name was Dr. George Russell Aikens, M.D. who moved to Utah and had quite a full life as a doctor and with the Hollywood circuit in the 1930’s.  He wrote a book about his life and adventures when he was 93 years old!

Mrs. V. wrote that she would love to own a copy of the book, which had a limited production. I didn’t know if she ever was able to secure a copy. I figured for the heck of it, I’d try and see if I could locate the book. And quickly, I could. I also had the good fortune to find a signed copy of the book. It was a bit worse for wear on the cover, but the signature was a good one. So I purchased the book and had it delivered with a note of thanks to Mrs. Villiers for writing all her articles that I’d so richly be able to use for my research. I got a lovely note in return. I hope in the future to set up a time to sit with her and do some further research.

I also purchased a copy of the book for myself: The Doc Aiken Story; Memories of a Country Doctor. It is really interesting and I hope to use some tidbits I find here on my blog.

So what did I learn?  I got a family tree sketch of the Hosbrook family from Mrs. Regina Villiers.  I have an additional angle to the backdrop of the story with this information. I was feeling a greater connection to Madeira. But how do the Hosbrook family fit into the main story? Is there some sort of connection with either Claire or Zelda?

Question to you: Have you ever researched the town you live in? For a kid’s report, or a speech or just for your own knowledge? Have you ever done research about a location (anywhere) for something you were writing? What’s your research process? I’m always up for learning a better way to do things!

Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!  Or go to the HELP ME! page and contact me so we can talk in greater detail.

And remember, if you see a bright green bug running around town, it’s just me, wave and I’ll wave back!