Three weeks ago, I blogged about my next picture book project, and how inspired I was about the subject, an ex-slave who went on to do great things. As inspired as I was, however, I was also discouraged. Not much is known about my subject's life, particularly as a child.
Much has happened in three weeks. I began my search on Amazon. I wanted to see if other books had been written about this person. I only found one, and it appeared to be self-published, in 1975. The cost was way out of my budget range — over $150.00. There was no description of the book offered, so I didn't want to make an investment, not knowing if the book included information that I needed, or for that matter, if the book was about the same person I wanted to write about. I decided to shelve this project until later in the year, once my finances were a bit healthier, and when I had more time to invest.
Before shelving this project, I decided to Google the author's name to find out if he was still living. Maybe I could conduct a phone or email interview. Well, long story short, turns out the author of the book was a personal friend of the subject I want to write about. Both men are deceased — remember, my subject was born a slave.
The good news is that the author's son is still living. And he sent me a packet of information that included a photocopy of the book, original newspaper articles written about the subject, photographs and much more! In addition, he said I could hold onto these materials as long as necessary. Needless to say, I was floored that a complete stranger would trust me with these materials. Wow!— the kindness of some people.
I'm ready to begin writing, but I still have a major problem. The materials document the person's life after he found success, but doesn't include much information about the person's life as a child. Apparently, my subject was very private and didn't discuss his childhood. But that should be OK. For Bill's story, the picture book I recently sold, I researched life in general for a child of that part of the country, in that time period.
More research is still needed. But I'm on my way!