Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Melissa Ostrom

Melissa Ostrom's new young adult historical novel is The Beloved Wild.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Beloved Wild, and for your character Harriet?

A: The history of the Genesee Valley has interested me ever since I moved to Orleans County 20 years ago to teach English at Kendall High School.

This area holds special historical significance in terms of our country’s first wave of westward expansion: in the early 1800s, many young men left the comforts of their New England homes and, after purchasing their parcels from the Holland Land Company, settled here.

The region (sometimes called Lake Ontario fruit country) still fosters prosperous farms. Between the sweeping lake, orchards, quaint cobblestone houses, and Erie Canal, it’s quite lovely. Genesee comes from the Seneca word for “beautiful valley.” An apt name, indeed.

But though the area’s history has long intrigued me, an idea for a novel didn’t begin to take shape until one day when I was trudging around an old cemetery, searching for a patch of trilliums that I remembered spying the previous spring.

I came upon a family plot that gave me pause. If I was interpreting the names and dates on the antique headstones correctly, they suggested that one man must have had three consecutive wives. The nearby infant burials provided some explanation.

I wondered what it must have been like for...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue