Friday, September 20, 2013

Whose family is that?

You've seen them, I'm sure. Boxes of sepia and black and white photographs in some corner of an antique or junk shop. Unlabeled, mismatched, scalloped edges. Nameless strangers staring from the past, some smiling, some not. Some dressed up, as clearly this was some occasion. New car, first day of school, the existence of the camera.

I've wondered, as I'm sure many have, whose family members those are. How does that happen, that those scraps of one's past end up in a store, a couple bucks each?

You can find them on Etsy too, of course. On this store, Family Tree Antiques, the seller even relates some of the history of the people in the photograph, which is pretty awesome. There are many stores selling many of these photographs, individually, framed, in lots, in digital downloads....pretty much every permutation you can think of.

But those unlabeled people, what about them?

I've been trying to decide if it's a great idea, or a creepy one, to look for pictures like this at the antique and junk stores in my area, to build the werewolf family tree of my main character in Learn to Howl.

I'm inclined to be enchanted with my idea, actually. I've spent some time relating the history of the family, not as a true infodump (I hope) but rather as family stories get told. You know they way, when somebody says something like "Did you ever know that your great great great aunt Hildegarde had a duel fought over her?" and "members of this family fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War", etc. More detailed that what I've just related, obviously, but you get the gist.

I've always loved old family stories (and more recent ones as well, obviously; few things beat hearing stories about people you know) and I hope to appropriately channel that in Learn to Howl and its sequels. I'm thinking this trilogy, and am currently editing what I have of book two, The Wolf You Feed, in addition to writing not-quite-a-story-yet notes about the still untitled Book Three.


  1. I have a very small family and, therefore, not much history...which really bugs me. I love the idea of old photos and keepsakes and also try to incorporate things like that into my stories :-)

    1. Not knowing family history bugs me too! I have a big family, and it still seems like I have too many gaps.

      It's a fun, tangible thing to try and think about, isn't it? Nearly every family has at least SOMETHING, and if they don't, well there's a story in that too, right?