Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Destination Life : : Anne McAllister

lifes journey bigger_thumbAnne is looking forward to the new school year.  It always seems to hold such promise.   And she’s looking down new roads to travel this year, wondering where they will take her.
I love summer. It’s open-ended and there are always lots of things to do and places to go, new fields to explore that I’ve glimpsed during the other seasons, but  never seem to have time for then.   Summer is when I can indulge those explorations, and I’m always delighted to do so.
But I like autumn, too. I was always excited to go back to school when I was a student.  Some years were better than others, granted. But most of the time, I enjoyed the chance to learn from my teachers and classmates. I liked the challenge of coming to grips with new ideas, new concepts, new ways of looking at the world.  I liked traveling new roads, testing boundaries, checking out where they might take me.
The process was a little more structured than the wandering about in fields I did in  the summertime.  It had more direction – more of a notion of a goal to be reached.  I’m not always that big on goals. I like process more than the end product, usually (Myers-Briggs concurs that I’m a P, not a J!)
But there are times when structure is a good thing, when direction and purpose have a place. 
I get to feeling that way long about mid-August, I suppose because it’s almost time for school to start again in my neck of the woods.
This year I’m teaching two family history classes.  One is for beginning genealogists. The other is more of a ‘guidance’ along the road to making your own discoveries. 
Particularly the second is a lot like writing a book.  I’m working on a new one of those now, too.
Both the classes I’m teaching and the book I’m writing, different though they are, challenge me.  They make me look at old things in new 4 generation of Daysways. Census records? How can I communicate their value to my new students?  Research plans?  Why bother?  
There are plenty of challenges in teaching. 
There are challenges in writing as well. And ancestors and characters have a lot in common.  In both cases I need to learn who these people are that I’m going to be spending time with.  I tell my students to think about what motivated their ancestors to pick up and move or to marry a particular person or to go to court and sue their neighbor.  Those same questions are questions I ask my characters.  Understanding motivation is what makes writing fun and what makes family history intriguing.
Who are these people?  What makes them tick? What experiences have they had that have helped form who they are? What people in their lives are significant?  What drives them?  What holds them back? 
These are all questions that intrigue me, tempt me, keep me burning the midnight oil.   They are what I love about getting ready for a new year and a new book.
Well, that and the absolutely necessary trip to the office supply store and the purchase of new pens, ink, notebooks, etc. etc. etc!
What’s your favorite part of the going-back-to-school time of year?  Or are you still happy playing in the fields?
Anne’s book Breaking the Greek’s Rules will be out from Mills & Boon Modern in December.  In theory it was supposed to be out in November or December in the US as a Harlequin Presents Extra. But with the advent of “simultaneous publication” she is wondering if that means it’s fallen through the cracks.  Hmmm.  It’s the story of Alexandros Antonides and the woman he tries to hire to find him a wife.  But Daisy has other ideas.  And one very big secret she is hoping Alex never finds out.

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