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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Author: Kay Mouradian and A Gift in the Sunlight

Long-time visitors may remember my brief profile of Kay Mouradian in May of 2010. Besides her current novel she has also written books on yoga and meditation. (Wow! I want the brand new copy!) Please welcome today's Guest Author, Kay Mouradian.

 

I wish I had known more about my mother Flora. She was 18 when she came to America in 1920 to marry my father, a man she knew only from a photograph. Becoming an orphan after losing her family in the Armenian genocide, my mother took a chance that the man in the picture would take care of her and I am a witness to say that he did.
        
When I was a kid growing up in Boston, Mom would tell me stories about her tragic life in Turkey, but those stories went in one ear and out the other. I was too busy trying to be an American kid, like my Irish and Italian friends, so I never really knew what happened to my mother during World War I. All that changed when she nearly died at the age of 83. That’s when I started to read about Ottoman Turkey during the Great War and became overwhelmed with the depth of cruelty inflicted on the Turkish Armenians in 1915. I then learned how that catastrophe had broken my mother’s heart and changed her life forever and I knew her story needed to be told.

There is a saying in the literary community that if you want to know the facts read a newspaper, but if you want to know the truth, read a novel. That statement reverberated in my mind and I decided to tell my mother’s story in a novel. Since most of my writing had been in academia, I spent months scouring through books in the 808.3 section of my South Pasadena library learning about plot and character development, foreshadowing, and point of view. The actual writing was far more difficult, but I had a wonderful critique group who kept me honest.

I’ve often heard writers say that the best part of writing is the research and I also found that to be true. I went into used bookstores canvassing the history and memoir sections. After reading through the table of contents I bought and read every book that said "Constantinople." I went through the book stacks at UCLA and became mesmerized with the "Turkey in World War I" section. Then I read through 10 reels of microfilm from the Library of Congress of dispatches and letters from the U S Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire covering the years from 1913-16 and spent a week at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt library reading the personal papers of the Ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, Sr.

My mother’s story, A Gift in the Sunlight, is now in its second edition and can be purchased through Amazon, Vromans, and my website, agiftinthesunlight.com.

I AM MY MOTHER’S VOICE and her story is being made into a documentary...an Armenian Ann Frank story!

12 comments:

this is Belgium said...

I am fascinated.. and so glad I read your blog.. do not think that I would have found out otherwise.
greetings from Brussels

Petrea Burchard said...

Anni, thank you for stopping by!

TheChieftess said...

Did you know that Glendale has the fourth largest population of Armenians outside of Armenia? Just behind Moscow, Beirut, and Los Angeles...
I've known about the Armenian genocide in Turkey for years, yet I really know nothing about it. I'll put this book on my "to read" list!!! Thank you!

Petrea Burchard said...

I knew about the large Armenian population in Glendale, Chieftess. However, the Armenian Genocide itself was never discussed in my history classes and I've only just been learning about it recently, through Kay and others like her.

Ms M said...

That sounds like a powerful story; I'll definitely look it up. Thanks!

Kay M said...

Yes,Ms. M.. it is a powerful story. For your information you can always check the book out from the Pasadena, Glendale and Los angeles libraries.

Petrea Burchard said...

Ms. M is one of the international group--in Boise. But I know the book is available on Amazon, and even if you don't read it there's probably a lot of information available at your library about this event in history.

BonnieS said...

This is a wonderful book, so vivid and moving. And the great thing about it is that Kay did not villainize anyone in the telling but took the high road, thereby rendering the story even more touching and credible.

Kay M said...

Thank you Bonnie. It was a difficult story to write, but I wanted it to be an easy read and an educational one as well.

Petrea Burchard said...

Good point, Bonnie.

Kay provides a presentation to schools and libraries as well.

Petrea Burchard said...

Kay, thank you for your gracious and wonderful post today. I particularly enjoyed reading about your research process and the enthusiasm with which you approached your subject. It's a lesson! Even having known someone who lived through it, you still had to get the facts straight. Writing historical fiction is both a pleasure and a lot of hard work.

Anonymous said...

I've read your book and it is both a touching eye-opener and captivating all the way through. A documentary sounds intriguing and I can't wait to learn more about it.