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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Whale Of A Tale

Today I have the pleasure of turning the blog over to Julie Flanders who is here to share some unique family history related to the New England setting of her newest novel, The Ghosts of Aquinnah. 

Family History and The Ghosts of Aquinnah

I'm a big history buff and, since I know LG is a history fan too, I thought I'd post about some of my own family history for my post here at Bards and Prophets. Thank you for having me here today, LG!

History plays a big role in The Ghosts of Aquinnah, as the main storyline of the novel takes place on Martha's Vineyard in 1884. My own family on my father's side has been on the Vineyard for generations, and my great-great-grandparents Franklin and Nancy Hammett owned a farm on the island in the late 1800s.

My family has this photo of the Hammetts, along with their horse Grover and an unknown woman, on that farm in the 1890s.


Franklin must have been an interesting guy, as he worked on a whaling ship before settling down on the farm. He set sail on the John A. Robb in 1845, when he was only 15 years old, and traveled around the world before returning home in 1849.

Franklin wrote a letter about his whaling experiences to the Republican Standard and we are fortunate to still have the text of the letter. The ship left from New Bedford, Massachusetts and sailed around Cape Horn at the tip of South America. From there the whalers continued to Guam, Australia and Japan before heading home to New England.

It's impossible to imagine what that voyage must have been like, especially for a teenager on his own, but Franklin's account provides a glimpse into how frightening it must have been. This is my favorite passage of the letter:
"The next he [a whale] came up about five hundred feet, head out of water about 8 or 10 feet or it looked so to me, and some of the crew sterned and some pulled but I see he was acoming into the Boat so I started for the stern sheets of the Boat and the Mate says to me, "Where the Hell are you bound?"
It was the first time for me to be so near a Whale and my hat I guess lifted and there was not much time to talk or even to think but get a move on, so I told the Mate there was not room enough in this Boat for me and that fellow."
Franklin jumped out of the boat and this proved to be a good decision, as the whale ended up slamming that boat to pieces. I suppose if he hadn't made that call, I wouldn't be here today. :D

The passage made me laugh because I could hear my grandfather telling the story in the same way, especially the use of the phrase "that fellow."

Hammett is the maiden name of Stella, the main character in the 1884 section of The Ghosts of Aquinnah. Her family owned a farm in the same area of the island where Franklin and Nancy lived. In addition, Stella has a horse named Grover.



Blurb:

A brilliant flash of light transcends through time.

Another freezes a cloaked figure within a frame of salty mist as waves crash against a rocky shore. Her harrowing expression shadows the beacon to a pinprick. 

By the next blaze, she is gone. Only the lighthouse remains.

Hannah’s eyes blink in step with each heartbeat. Images of her deceased parents and Martha’s Vineyard explode like firecrackers inside her mind.

She shakes her head. 

For weeks this eerie woman dressed in nineteenth century garb has been haunting my webcam, but tonight she stared into my soul. 

Why? ...

Who is she? ...

Casting aside months of research on historic lighthouses, Hannah drives to the coast and boards a ferry. 

What is the strange connection she has to this mysterious woman suspended in time?

Hannah finds out. 

But, it’s not at all what she expects...

Hannah unravels a century old murder.

Buy The Ghosts of Aquinnah:  Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords ~ Ink Smith Store

About Julie:


Julie Flanders is a novelist and freelance writer in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a life-long love affair with the ocean and has spent more summer vacations than she can count on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. When not writing, Julie can be found playing with her pets, reading, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and watching too much television. The Ghosts of Aquinnah is Julie’s second novel. Her debut novel Polar Night was released in February, 2013 by Ink Smith Publishing.



Find Julie at: 



Thanks, Julie! Nice nod to your family history. Can't wait to read this latest novel of yours. 


*19th century illustration of whale smashing a fishing boat
.

83 comments:

  1. And you were able to pay tribute to him by naming one of the characters after your great-great grandfather. Don't blame him either for jumping out of the boat. Scary to think a whale could crush a boat to bits, but if it's fighting for its life, I suppose it could.

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  2. thanks to your today's guest, Luanne, for sharing the story!

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  3. Thank you again LG for having me here. I love this picture you found to share with the post, how perfect! And it really shows how scary these voyages must have been.

    @Alex, yeah, I can't really imagine how scary these situations were. I feel sorry for the whales too!

    @Dezmond, thanks for reading!

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  4. What a story to have about your great-great-grandfather! I've always said I'd give my ancestor's war mementos for a single letter or journal entry - 'cause it's only in that way that we can learn what it was like to be there and what they actually did.

    Very suspenseful, eerie blurb, and who doesn't love a horse named Grover? :-)

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  5. Alex - Julie likes to use names from real life in her novels, I've noticed. The last novel had characters named after her dog and cat. :P

    Dezzy - Kind of cool to still have a clipping written by a great-great grandfather about a unique era like whaling.

    Julie - And congrats again to you on the release of your second novel!! And I was surprised at how many images there were to choose from that depicted a whale smashing a boat to pieces. Must have happened frequently enough!! Talk about terrifying.

    Steve - Yeah, very cool that she has that family history. I love the distinct voice in the passage, too. :)

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  6. Julie totally rocks. I have this on my TBR list. :D

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  7. What a wonderful family history, Julie. It's amazing having that documentation. The picture of the whale was scary. Thanks to LG for having you here.

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  8. That's really interesting. Just one thing could've changed your entire existence! Imagine what other stories Hammett could've shared!

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  9. Donna - She totally does. :D

    Fanny - Whaling is something so completely foreign to me. I come from a long line of landlocked farmer/rancher types, so this was fascinating for me to read his account of having to jump out of a boat to avoid being smashed by a whale. What a way to make a living.

    Christine - Julie's post ALMOST has me willing to give Moby Dick another try (failed twice trying to finish that novel).

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  10. Your knowledge of your family history makes me jealous! My family is not good with legacies- there's lots of secrets and very little shared stories so I have no pictures, letters or knowledge of my family that far back. Thanks for sharing your history with us- that was an amazing story of a close encounter.
    Thanks for this, LG!

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  11. Very impressive, Julie, knowing history and having provenance is the best. Imagine being on a whaling ship at 15! I have a fond affection for lighthouses - I used to wish I could be a lighthouse keeper.

    Thanks LG for the info and for featuring Julie!

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  12. @Steve, isn't that a great name for a horse? I love it. Thanks!

    @Donna, aww, thank you!

    @Fanny, we are really lucky to have it, thanks so much.

    @Christine, I know, I wish we had more from him or from other ancestors!

    @Beverly, I feel so lucky to have info about this side of my family, on my mom's side we hardly know anything. Thanks for reading!

    @DG, isn't that crazy to think he was only 15?! I can't even imagine doing it now at my old age LOL. Thank you!

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  13. Hearing about those kinds of moments is kind of scary.

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  14. I loved hearing about the history of the Hammets. Franklin must have been quite a "fellow" - and score for Franklin vs the Whale! You can tell how much he loved Grover as he's showing him off, while the women are in the background. lol

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  15. Beverly - That's a tragedy to not have that family history. Although I guess it leaves room for making up a great tale. :)

    DG - My son is almost seventeen, and I'm terrified every time he takes the car out. Can't imagine how Franklin's mother must have felt about her fifteen year old son sailing half-way around the world. Different times.

    Andrew - Terrifying to me! I swear I drowned in another life. Probably as a whaler. :P

    Lexa - Yeah, the guy had to have some smarts to be the first one out of the boat. :D

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  16. Maybe that's why my wife is scared of deep water... hmm...

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  17. I think it's lovely that you keep the history of your ancestors. It's such an important thing to know where one comes from. He sounds like a fine, brave man to be doing such work to support his family.

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  18. @Andrew, agreed! I can't even swim so I would have been doomed for sure.

    @Lexa, I didn't even think of that! LOL LOL. I wonder if his wife paid him back for that. :D

    @Anne, I definitely feel lucky to have this bit of our family history, thanks.

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  19. Your great-great grandfather was a very brave and wise man! This is such a wonderful story, and I'm glad that it inspired you to write The Ghosts of Aquinnah! Thanks for including the photo with Grover (cute name for a horse) and I also enjoyed Luanne's colorful image!

    Julie

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    1. Isn't Grover a cute name? I love it! My grandpa used to tell us stories about him, Grover was still around when he was a kid. Thanks, Julie!

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  20. Andrew - I have a completely irrational fear of the ocean. Mayhap your wife also watched Jaws as a child????

    Anne - Definitely brave to go out in a boat with the idea of bringing in one of those huge whales. Wow.

    Julie2 - I love that pic at the top. It is supposedly done by a Frenchman in the 1800's. I'm thinking he likely drew it from topsy-turvy experience. :P

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    1. You know, she actually mentioned that the other day about the poster and stuff. I'm not positive she's ever seen the movie, but the poster made an impression on her at any rate.

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    2. Even that damn poster is enough to induce a shiver in me. Really, that movie scarred me for life. I can't be the only one.

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    3. As it turns out, my wife has never seen the movie; her fear pre-dates it. She hates that image of the shark coming up out of the water, though.

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  21. I like whales, but being that close would be frightening. Awesome real history in your story, Julie. Whether your connection or not, you really brought Stella and Christopher's story to life.

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    1. I love whales (and Wales, heh) too, but I can't imagine going head to head with one in a small boat armed only with a pointy stick. Crazy.

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    2. Thank you, Mary! I'm so glad again that you enjoyed the book. :)

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  22. What a cool story about your family! I love old family histories and letters!

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  23. that is amazing that you have such old pictures of your family history… I hardly know anything...

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    1. We feel so lucky to have this one, I don't really have anything from the other side of my family and wish I did!

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  24. Nicole - I'm curious now if any of that real family history has made it into her novel.

    Hilary - Great family history…a photo and an excerpt from an old letter. Good stuff. :)

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  25. What an amazing story Julie and Michael's cover looks great!.

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    1. Thanks, Maurice! So glad you like the cover, Michael did an amazing job.

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  26. I loved the snippet from Franklin's journal! Your great-great grandpa had a sense of humor! "--not room enough in this boat for me and that fella." :D

    Congrats on the latest, J!

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  27. This sounds SO. GOOD! The blurb is fab. Gave me chills!

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  28. @EJ, that's the part I loved, the way he told that cracked me up. Also kind of funny that the mate yelled "Where the hell are you bound?" LOL. Thanks!

    @Emily, oh, thank you!!

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  29. Julie is everywhere! Which is great. I want to buy this book but I don't think it's on kindle.

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    1. Thank you so much, Denise! I sent you an email about the Kindle.

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    2. It's on Kindle now. Just bought it. :D

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  30. Julie, that picture is amazing. I thought I had some old photos of my mom's family but, wow!, you really have old pictures to cherish.

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    1. I'm amazed we still have this one, it's really a treasure. Thanks so much, Elsie!

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  31. So cool to get your family's background into the story. I love seeing this everywhere, and I really feel like I'm learning something new at each blog, which is awesome - and impressive. Thanks to both of you for this post!

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    1. Thank you, Liz! This book is fun for me to talk about since I love the Vineyard. :)

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  32. I've always wanted to see a whale (from a safe distance of course). Good luck with your book :). It sounds very interesting.

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    1. Michael, I have too. Once I went on a whale watching trip when I was in Provincetown but of course we didn't see a single whale. Maybe someday. Thanks about the book!

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    2. That would be just my luck too, Julie. I took the ferry to Vancouver and came very close to seeing Orcas on that trip, but even they stayed just below the surface. One of these days...

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  33. Been seeing this book around, definitely need to check it out!!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy>

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  34. Hehehe I love the whale story. Thanks for sharing, Julie!

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  35. Great post! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  36. Thank you Misha and Margo! I'm glad you liked the post.

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  37. I've gone whale watching a couple times here in San Diego, but the experience was very different. Only 15? That's awesome.

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    1. What? No whale smashing your boat to smithereens? I think it would be amazing to see a whale up close like that. Just not in the boat with me. :P

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  38. That passage from the letter made me giggle a little bit, loved it. Julie's book sounds great, with an authentic touch from her own personal family history!

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  39. that was quite captivating! and whale hunting sounds so badass

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  40. That's really cool that Julie has so much information about her ancestors. Thanks for sharing.

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  41. Hi Luanne and Julie - it's great this story is so based to a point on your family and their history back in Martha's Vineyard in the 19th century - it must be wonderful to be able to perhaps take in their feelings of way back when ... and gosh wasn't your great grand-father clever in jumping out - I'd agree with him ... it's a great tour you're giving us - cheers Hilary

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  42. Advanced Merry Christmas & Happy New Year greetings and also Thanks and Smiles:) for ur support till now Dear Blogger Buddy God<3U:)

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  43. I've never had any encounters with whales. Dolphins and seals, but never whales. But judging by that first picture, maybe it's better that way.

    Best of luck to you, Julie, with your new novel.

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  44. Is you OK sister? You haven't posted anything in ten days or more if we don't count the guest post :)

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  45. Bonnie - It's either jump or get swallowed by a whale. :P

    George - You'd have to be a badass to go whaling in those days.

    Tonja - Cool that she incorporated some of it into her story too. :)

    Hilary - What do you do after you jump out of the boat! Hopefully there was a bigger ship nearby.

    Adhi - And Merry Christmas to you too!

    M.J. - I would love to see a whale, but not like that. I'm even a little afraid of the little sightseeing boats they use today. :(

    Dezzy - I'm okay. Just don't have much to blog about anymore. Run out of gas I'm afraid. :- /

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  46. Good luck to Julie, intriguing read :)....And you Luanne come and join my giveaway if u feel like a good read...if not...HAPPY HOLIDAYS :). kissessssssssssss

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  47. "Bards and Prophets" has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

    http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-sunday-drive_22.html

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  48. Luanne, I just wanted to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year! Hope you're not working too hard. You are well missed!

    Julie

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  49. Unikorna - I tried to get on your site, but something is very different over there. Can't access the normal page anymore. :(

    Jerry - Well, thanks. :)

    Julie - Aw, thanks, and a Happy New Year to you too!!

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  50. Good of you to host other authors, Lu. I hope you had a great Christmas with plans for a fun New Year's Eve!

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  51. A Happy new Year , lovely friend :). Kissessssssss and inspiration for writing lots of bestsellers :)>

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  52. Just dropping by to wish you a Happy New Year, dear! Hope the first morning of the year didn't find you with a hangover :)

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  53. I see this post is a month old, but it's still awesome and fresh.
    Congrats on your new book, Julie!
    Hi, L.G.!

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  54. I'm so sorry to have missed some of the comments on here - thank you all so much! And thanks again for hosting me and getting the book, Luanne. :)

    Go Broncos! I really hope they send Brady and Belicheck packing.

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  55. Thinking about you!! I hope all is well.

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  56. Hi LG .. thanks for hitting my Hilary, Hilary, where have you been post!! Good to hear from you ... I'll post about the Georgians too, and the Portraits of the Elizabethans, which I did get up to see ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  57. What a fun piece of history! Wow. I can hardly image whalers of a earlier age. What a dangerous profession!

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  58. This sounds like such an interesting story! Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  59. I miss you, L.G.! I hope everything is OK...

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  60. lol! "Not enough room for me and that whale fellow." yah, seeing one up close it's amazing how BIG they are. Then you remember you're in this little bitty flimsy boat.

    Enjoyed the tale of the whale, Julie.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  61. I always enjoy hearing about the connections between your book and your personal history. That old letter and photo are priceless. I'd say we're all rather glad young Franklin had the good sense to jump off that boat...

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  62. Love the historical aspect of Aquinnah, Julie. Great illustrations here, too. I have the modern whale hunt in one of my unpubbed novels. Very emotional storyline.

    Thanks for hosting, LG.

    Denise

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  63. Wow, what a story. I'd surely jump out of the boat too!

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  64. Hi LG,
    What a fascinating post! I read totally enthral led. I have some back reading of your posts to do now. Great to see you and hope you had a great St. David's day. You even made Welsh cakes. I'm proud of you!
    Di
    xoxo

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  65. That is a great letter, and I love that you got to use some of your family history and names for your novel. :)

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  66. Hi, Julie! It's great to see you making the rounds.

    Best,
    Squid

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