Uncovering her family’s lost history, Barbara Morriss brought to life her gift of writing fiction.
Barbara Morriss is one of those authors who touch other people not only with their books but also with their life story. For the Carmel Valley based author is living proof that it’s never too late to follow your dreams, and that talent can shine brightly at any age.
It wasn’t until her rewarding and lifelong career as a schoolteacher that Barbara Morriss finally decided to take up writing fiction. To be more specific, historical fiction with a touch of romance, mystery, and endings that leave readers wanting for more. And that’s because the author loves history—a decisive factor in her characters’ lives, but also doing research.
“I love the process of research. I call so many people over the country to ask questions. It’s a great community of information, and I really enjoy that,” she said in an interview for the Seated at the Writer’s Table podcast.
Barbara Morriss’ second novel, “A Promise in Autumn” is a love story laced with suspense and mystery set in early the 1900s in an idyllic Midwest, the novel depicts the challenges and bliss of finding true love. It also explores one of the most interesting times in the recent history of the US, ravaged by the First World War and the Influenza Pandemic in 1918.
Inspiration meets you where you least expect it.
This book would have probably never come into being if Barbara and her family wouldn’t have embarked on a journey of uncovering their family’s history and find out who were the biological parents of her husband’s father. They tried doing research on their own with little success then engaged a genealogist from Missouri.
“I’m very proud to have found it because it enriched our lives in many ways,” says the author who found the real story so compelling and rich and sad that the former teacher felt bound to start writing books.
First came “Finding Grace,” a book she confesses having written mostly for her family and friends and which she plans on rewriting for a more general audience. “A Promise in Autumn” was released earlier this year and although it is more fictional than the first one, the author wanted to carry on one of the threads.
Connecting real-life events with creativity
That’s how a “Promise in Autumn” was born. Connecting the dots of what she knew was true with her own creativity was pretty exciting for the author.
“Raymon Woodrome was in my first book, so I knew he was kind and caring and well-read and successful. I didn’t know what kind of girl he might have, so I wanted him to have someone who was full of life. His first love experience was so tragic that I wanted him to have some fun. So I created this girl, Keegan Cadagan, the main character in A Promise in Autumn,” Barbara Morriss explains.
The book is set in Springfield, Missouri in early 1900. Keegan, a young Catholic woman full of spunk flees her employer because he’s a tyrannical, lecherous mobster. She finds refuge in a boarding house operated by Raymon Woodrome. He hires her to manage the house for him, and over time and circumstances, they fall in love. Because she’s a Catholic and he is a protestant, Keegan feels that even loving him might be a sin.
Although placed at a very distinct time in the US history — the early 1900s, a time of the first draft where the country sent its boys away and the ravaging Influenza Pandemic—we all can identify with Keegan’s story. Even in the modern world, we still have to fight taboos, go through inner battles, strive to do the best we can, and find true love.
Don’t be afraid to share your story.
Barbara Morris loved teaching humanities to middle-graders combining history, story, music, and art to create a fun class. That’s when she realized the importance of story and history and how we depend on history to tell us the best story, it can even if it’s not always entirely accurate.
For Barbara Morriss, sitting at her desk and writing every day is extremely rewarding and fruitful.
“I would encourage everyone who feels they have a story that they would like to tell to write it because then it’s down on paper and it can be passed on,” says the author.