I thought I’d do something a little different today and give you one of my very first public historical fictions ever. I knew early on that I wanted to be an author. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I started out writing New Kid on the Block “fan fictions” back in high school with my best friend, Dawn Taylor. For our senior project in school we illustrated and wrote a children’s book together. I was supposed to be the illustrator, since art was where my project originated from, and the writing was Dawn’s for her English class. But we both ended up writing the book (and I still did the drawing too).
As I continued into college, writing became my first and foremost priority over art (my original major). I never was an English major though, I studied history and usually had anywhere from 3 to 5 or more papers a week to write. I never tired of constantly writing and continued to write my side fictional stories for fun too. When it came time to write my history senior thesis, a 50-page heavily researched historic paper, the professor, a wonderful man named Dr. John Leopold, asked what I wanted to write. He mentored everyone this way at the beginning and then it was up to us to finish the work on our own time. I remember our conversation quite vividly. I was wishy-washy about what non-fictional subject I wanted to tackle. I suggested the 1920s, or something in Ireland, or maybe something on the Titanic.
He stopped me and said, that the Titanic was an interesting topic, but what was my approach on finding out something new about the Titanic that hadn’t been done before? (that was one of the instructions for the project, we had to research and find out something new about our subject).
I did mention that there was a lot of research on the first class and the lowest class of passengers, but it was the middle class that was often forgotten.
It was Dr. Leopold’s turn to hmm and haw, and finally he said to me, “You write fiction, don’t you Miss LaPlant?”
To this day, I don’t know how he knew that, but I said, “Yes.”
He, in turn, said, “I will let you write a historical fiction on your topic, if you back it up with your allotted amount of research.”
I flipped out! I was SO excited and at one point, later on in the semester, I asked if it could be more than 50 pages. I was told a big fat no on that one, because it would force me to keep within the requirements like a true author would in the job world. Like I said, he was an awesome professor. He knew what he was molding me for, and I’m so grateful for his guidance.
Fast forward to the end of the year, and we, not only had our papers evaluated by the students, but by the team of professors in the history department. I had students coming up to me in the bathroom saying they cried during my paper and thought it was so good, but I still wasn’t sure how the professors would like it. What if I were graded poorly since it was fiction? What if they thought I took the easy way out?
I worried and shook like a leaf in a rain storm the day Dr. Leopold handed out the final evaluation to all the students in my class. Like a good teacher he handed them face down so other students wouldn’t see the grades and let the individual person turn it over when they were ready. He then added that he only gave out one A. And as he stood at my desk with my paper in hand, he stared down at me and said, “Congratulations Miss LaPlant,” and set my paper face up with the A on the very top. Everyone clapped and to this day, it will go down as one of my favorite moments in my life.
So, without further ado, I’d like to share this short story with you. Mind you, I wrote this when I was 21 years old and didn’t have the knowledge of true formatting and proper fictional writing like I do now. But please – enjoy!