Saturday, December 15, 2007

What's In A Picture?


What's in a picture? Plenty.

A little background: My earliest memories of my grandmother's home were of this picture hanging in her living room over the drop-leaf table. It came from the home of Walter Q. Gresham, Lanesville Indiana lawyer, and later, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Secretary of State under Grover Cleveland.

My grandmother's pictures were always tastefully hung; low and elegantly grouped. Still, as a little tyke, I had to look up to see the sweet face of the girl feeding the deer and various other wild-life. I always imagined she was Cinderella taking a much-needed break from her daily chores.

From the time my grandmother and I played endless games of "Riddly-Riddly-Ree" (I see something you don't see), she said that the "deer picture" would, one day, be mine.

My mother had other ideas. After my grandmother died she said, "I'll keep it for you, Mary, since you don't have a good place to hang it." Okay, Mom. Whatever.

Almost 30 years after my grandmother's death, and some extensive frame restoration (thanks to writer-friend Bev's husband Bob who owns a frame shop in Carrollton), Cinderella and her menagerie are hanging in my dining room.

I'm sure you're wondering "What's the point of this nice, but rather boring story?" Well, I'm gonna tell ya.

Today is the official release of "Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou, Book Three." It has a rather eerie connection to the picture. COTB was loosely based on the 1860 disappearance of my great-great-grandfather, Augustus Boilliat. G-g-granddaddy was taking a load of "produce" down the Mississippi River to be sold in New Oreleans when he was apparently ambushed. Now, here's where Walter Q. comes in. He was a neighbor of Augustus, his wife, and nine children, and formed a search party to travel from their Dogwood, Indiana home to New Orleans. The searchers came back empty, with no knowledge of what happened to Augustus, but discovered that his "produce" had been sold along with his flatboat. His body was never found.

It was more than a century later when the family finally learned that the "produce" he was transporting was actually his homemade bourbon! I'd always wondered why he'd be killed over some soy beans and a few ears of corn. That little fact is conveniently left out of this young-reader story!

In "Curse of the Bayou," twelve-year-old best friends, Cynthia and Gus travel to New Orleans to solve the mystery of the missing grandfather. Does this story have a better ending than the real one? You'll just have to read the book!

Cynthia's Attic

14 comments:

Janet Grace Riehl said...

Congrats on the release of your new book. Sounds like a terrific story. I love the picture and the story behind it. (Hung tastefully low...yes, museums hand on 50" centers.)

Janet
www.riehlife.com

WriterKat said...

Congratulations! I am one of the fortunates to already have a copy and am mid-way through, hungry for hushpuppies (but not so much for crawfish). It's a great story and I am impressed!

Great work! I'll be passing the stories along to my 11 year old friend and asking her to tell her friends about it!

Way to go!

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks, Janet. All three books are loosely based on family or family stories but this one intrigues me the most!

"tastefully low..." Yes, my grandmother was an elegant decorator. She was also a pretty neat grandma! Thinking outside the box was something I learned from her and her son (my dad).

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks, writerkat! I'm so glad you're enjoying the book!! If your 11-year-old friend is inclined, ask her to e-mail and give her opinion of the book.

I love hearing from young readers.

Church Lady said...

Congratulations on the release of COTB!!! I cannot wait to read it!

I love the story behind the painting. It's beautiful. I'm glad you found a lovely spot in your home for it. (and our dining room is that color--love it!)

Do you include a "Word from the Author" in your book, saying it's based on your real grandfather? It's such a great story (leaving out the bourbon for the yung'uns, of course!)

:-)

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks, Church! Well, shoot! There's nothing in the book about that, but there should be!! I do include it in all promo materials.

Glad you like the paint in our Dining room!

Church Lady said...

Mary, I will send you a separate email, but wanted to say Thanks!
:-)

DeeDee said...

Write on, Gus! I hope you've got several more stories in the Attic Series hidden away. And I'd say that even if you weren't my bestest friend!
Huge hugs, Diana

Mary Cunningham said...

I may have a few hidden away but I forgot where I hid them! Do you remember? Oh, heck...your memory's as bad as mine!

Thanks, Bud. Couldn've done it without yours and your bro's support!

Hey! It's raining!!! That's a good thing!

Vanda Lavar said...

Hi Cynthia,
I just love the concept of yoru new book. The whole premise is so riveting, even for and adult.

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks, Vanda! I'm glad it sounds like interesting reading for adults, too. The time-traveling, historical element makes for fun reading from age 8-80! Well, maybe even 90+! :-)

I appreciate your stopping by and leaving a comment. Come back again!

Janet Muirhead Hill said...

Reading this intriguing background makes "The Curse of the Bayou" even more exciting. I can't wait to get it for my granddaughter and complete the series, which I've been reading myself before passing on to her.

Congratulations on a great series that keeps young readers reading. (Not to mention us oldsters that like good kids' stories, too.)

Word said...

Hi Mary!

I'm about half way through - and like writerkat, I get so dang hungry when I read your books!

Unfortunately I don't have Gus' metabolism!

SuRana has me intrigued beyond belief. And mudbug - I fo shuh loves him too.

Rachel is on me to hurry up and finish so she can read it. She won't have to wait long cuz the pages turn themselves!

Anywho - congrats and cheers to you Miz Mary.

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks Janet and Word! It warms my heart when grandmothers are reading and passing down to granddaughters and mothers are reading and passing down to daughters!

That's exactly what I had in mind when I began the series.

And, Janet. I've done the same with your Miranda and Starlight series! Fantastic books for young and adult readers.