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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Ryshia Kennie

How Could I Not?

I wrote my first story set in the Great Depression and loved every minute of the research. The depression era was a time whose shadow flitted over the prairies long after those years were gone. One story in particular haunted me.

A young farmer working under the hot prairie sun accidentally grabbed a jug of gopher poison instead of water and drank it down. It was during the depression and he died leaving a young wife and a baby daughter. I found that story so heart wrenching that I knew bits of it would someday weave itself into a book.

The most enjoyable part of doing research on that era was that there are so many people still around who lived through it. Mention the Great Depression to an elderly person and I found on average you got a smile. That surprised me until a pattern emerged. The people I spoke to were children and young adults during those years. The optimism and resilience of their youth brought back joyful memories. There were tales of hardship but there were also stories of dances, weddings and skating parties.

And a story that was one of my favorites, in an era when young men packed onto boxcars and road the rails across the country looking for work, a girl fell in love with one of those men. She slipped on pants, tucked her hair under a cap and got on that train heading east. The town constable was unsuccessful in retrieving her so her father got in his Model T and used precious gas to find her. So in the end it wasn't a very satisfying love story.

Still, how could you not write a romance after hearing that? And I did…

1935 Saskatchewan

A Widow

A Stranger

A farm they both claim

Sometimes love can be so Unexpected

From the Dust, Black Lyon Publishing, December 2007

There’s more tomorrow….



booklover0226 said...

My grandfather grew up during the depression. He said that they were so poor, anyway, they didn't even know there WAS a depression!

Cute but sad...

Tracey D

Ryshia Kennie said...

I heard a lot of that kind of humour - guess that's how they survived.