Birth of a new (brain)child
I am nervously waiting for the final proofing of my latest book before it goes to print. I’ve asked someone who hasn’t read it before to check it through. I am hoping they won’t find a single thing wrong or out of place, but I won’t hold my breath. One thing I have learnt about editing and proofing is that we all read what we expect to see – even the professionals so it takes more than one author, one editor, one proofer and more than one reading to catch all the grammatical, spelling and layout errors that are the bain of an authors’ life (now Mr Auto checker did I mean pain or bane? Because what has appeared instead is wrong!!!) I wish it were simpler. The one good thing about e-books is that you can load up a new edition as often as you like until it is error free – not so with print books. If you miss something, it is there for ever.
In the meantime, in an effort to quell my nerves and the ever rising doubts about my abilities, I’ve been doing more family history research. I decided to trace my mother-in-law’s maternal line. I have a few leads – not as many as I’d like – but enough I thought, but I’ve hit a roadblock. With all things genealogical, the male line is often easier because the surname tends to stay the same. In this case it has become a problem, because four generations of the male line all carry the same first name and same surname with no middle name to identify them. To add to this confusion they are all married to ladies whose first name starts with M and who have daughters with the same name as their mother! The only thing separating them are dates.
It is about this stage of the search game that I start to look at things other than names and dates. A death certificate points out a ‘mark’ of the person giving the information – showing this person was illiterate. Whilst this is not unusual in mid-1800’s what is interesting is that her grandfather is listed as a police sergeant. I’m not that familiar with the necessary skills and character traits required to be policeman in those days but I would have thought literacy would be high on the list. How did the grandchild of this man end up unable to write her own name?
The family is also split between Scotland and Northern Ireland moving back and forth over several generations. This was not uncommon either, but you do need to get into the history of the Ulster-Scots dating back to the end of the Nine Years War in 1603 and the defeat of the Irish by the English leading to the establishment of the Plantation. It is a fascinating, yet sad history on both sides. There are numerous books on the little happy-sad country known as Ireland, there is common knowledge but probably little general understanding of the Orange and Green rivalry in Northern Ireland between the Protestants and the Catholics and even less general knowledge of how Ulster became the place it is.
Maybe I have a new story in the making. Not directly about our wider family but of the people caught up in the politics of war.
Watch this space for the print release of my new novel, ‘The Cornish Knot’