Friday, December 6, 2019

INTRODUCING AND DEVELOPING CHARACTERS IN MEMOIR



By Brooks Eason, Author of Fortunate Son:The Story of Baby Boy Francis


When I started writing my memoir, Fortunate Son – the Story of Baby Boy Francis, I knew it had potential because the story was both amazing and true.

I was adopted as an infant, had wonderful parents and a wonderful childhood, never searched for my birth mother and never would have. I learned her identity and the story of my birth only because of litigation initiated in four courts in two states in an effort to identify and find me. The lawyers who were looking didn’t know who or where I was, but they knew my birth mother’s son had a potential claim to the fortune left by her grandfather, who owned oil wells all over the country as well as the only facility in the Western Hemisphere that made fluoride for toothpaste.

A week after I learned about my birth, my first grandchild was born under circumstances almost identical to my own. My birth mother got pregnant in the fall of her freshman year of college, my daughter in the fall of her sophomore year. The circumstances were the same, but the times were not. My daughter, unlike my mother, got to keep her baby, who’s grown into an extraordinary young lady.

I knew I had the makings of a good story. The challenge was to get readers who didn’t know any of the main characters – my parents, birth mother, daughter, granddaughter, and me – to care about us and feel they knew us. To achieve this, I wrote anecdotes about all of us that I thought were revealing, some no longer than a sentence or two. I wrote that my mother loved to dress up at Halloween, put on a mask, get down on her knees, and trick the neighbors into thinking she was a child wanting candy; that in World War II my daddy volunteered for the Navy because in the Army you had to sleep on the ground, but after the war ended he served as a Boy Scout leader for 60 years and spent more than 1,000 nights sleeping on the ground in a tent; that long after I was born my birth mother had late-night conversations with her sister about the baby she had to give away when she was 18, who by then she knew would be her only child; that my daughter declared before her third birthday that she needed to lose a little weight and the following year was chosen to be the barker in her preschool circus; and that exactly 20 years later my granddaughter played the same role in the same circus. Not long afterwards, she asked me, “Papa, am I taller than a penguin?” At the time she was taller than some but shorter than others, but now she's taller than all of them, even the Emperor, the tallest penguin on Earth.
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Brooks Eason has practiced law in Jackson for more than 35 years but has resolved to trade in writing briefs for writing books.  He lives with his wife Carrie and their two elderly rescue dogs, Buster and Maddie, and an adopted stray cat named Count Rostov for the central character in A Gentleman in Moscow, the novel by Amor Towles.  In their spare time, the Easons host house concerts, grow tomatoes, and dance in the kitchen.  Eason, who has three children and four grandchildren, is also the author of Travels with Bobby - Hiking in the Mountains of the American West about hiking trips with his best friend. Visit Brooks online at www.brookseason.com  https://www.facebook.com/brooks.eason

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