61PXTb2OvSLI write novels that blend historical intrigue and modern-day suspense with romance and a touch of supernatural.

Try to find that category at your favorite book store.

As such, one of my favorite parts of writing is undertaking research.

In Book 3 (Escaping from the Abyss, just releasing today), I needed a credible reason one of the characters from the past (late 1700s) would leave New York City and end up crossing the Potomac River between Williamsport, Maryland and Marlowe, West Virginia.

I found it via the Great Wagon Road, a trail in colonial America through the Great Appalachian Valley from Pennsylvania and points north, to North Carolina, and from there to Georgia and points west (what few points west there were in those days).

According to research, the Great Wagon Road was heavily traveled, particularly as the primary route for the early settlement of the Southern U.S.

Wikipedia offered me this little bit of insight that I realized was more about me and my heritage, than what I was writing. (I love such finds).

“Although a wide variety of settlers traveled southward on the road, two dominant cultures emerged. The German Palatines and Scots-Irish American immigrants arrived in huge numbers because of unendurable conditions in Europe. The Germans (also known as Pennsylvania Dutch) tended to find rich farmland and work it zealously to become stable and prosperous. The other group (known also as Presbyterian or Ulster Scots) tended to be restless, clannish, and fiercely independent; they formed what became known as the Appalachian Culture. Partly because of the language difference, the two groups tended to keep to themselves.”

My father’s ancestry is German and he was a farmer. He farmed “rich farmland,” and to say he was “zealous” about it would be a huge understatement.

My mother’s ancestry was Scots-Irish, and she was “clannish” (family-oriented) and “restless,” always convinced something better was down the road or right around the bend. A different lifestyle, a different way, if only she could try it….

So, if you’re into heavy analysis, you might think this explains why my German-mentality father and my Scots-Irish-mentality mother disagreed (a lot), or why their daughter has wanderlust but loves to stay home (put another way, I have—as my new author friend Lori Benton says—“a huge capacity for solitude.”)

What about you? How has following your passion(s) taught you more about yourself, or your family/ancestry?

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