Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Forest Lawn, Buffalo, NY

Sometimes I think back to how I began this whole writing journey.

I started writing historical fiction in 2004 but the process really started when I was a child. My Dad loved old cemeteries, history and antiques, and flea markets. He was known on occasion to turn his collar up, put his sunglasses on, and make one of us kids get out of the car to scrounge an interesting piece of furniture waiting to be picked up by the garbage man. Of course we hated it at the time but my sisters Jeanie and Mary Jane keep up the family tradition to this day.

My sister Bernadine and I used to visit a famous cemetery in Buffalo, NY called Forest Lawn. It's an amazing place with gardens and flowers, graceful sloping hills and marble fountains.

We were most fascinated with the mausoleums. Many of them had windows you could look into and gorgeous stained glass. One particular line of mausoleums were built into the side of a hill. My favorite had an iron grille built across the doorway, and the "door" was built as if it had been deliberately left half open. For someone to enter? Or perhaps to leave? How eerie it was, especially in the fall, when dead leaves had been swept inside the crypt by the wind.

I'm not sure if the photo above is that mausoleum or not. Doesn't look too scary in this photo but I assure you, on a windy autumn evening at dusk, it certainly was.

Forest Lawn was one of the first steps in the journey to becoming a writer and that step was developing an imagination.

We would spend hours reading inscriptions and wondering about the people behind them.

There are still lots of stories in Forest Lawn waiting to be told.

Thanks, Dad.


  1. Renee, I look forward to your blogging. The site looks great!

  2. Wonderful beginning,Renee. A touch of mystery and imagination that takes me back to my childhood. Leaves me eagerly waiting for the next post.

  3. The fears and terror of youth often fade away and are replaced with the terror of every day life as we age. The impression these ancient reliquaries leave on our pysche is evident when we engage in personal endeavours. As our memories grow fuzzy so do these very monuments with age. And moss & lichen. With erosion gently embracing the form and smoothing out the rough patches. Just like the ones who care about us.

  4. Roaming cemeteries as a child seems a bit odd! Exactly how old were you when this started? It's funny how you can learn something new about someone twenty odd years after they left this world, and startling too when you think you knew them quite well!
    I find characters in books much more interesting when they are real people, or at least heavily based on real people. I imagine the makings of an intersting novel could result from the ensuing investigation of one of those mysterious epitaphs. Was it a clue to hidden treasure perhaps, or a warning to those still living of a sinister plot?? I further imagine the investigation could take you to many far off locations and expose you to an assortment of diabolical or virtuous characters!

    I'll be back!

  5. Anonymous. those are some interesting thoughts!

  6. Martyman, my characters are based on both real and fictional people. The funny thing is, those fictional characters become absolutely real to me.

  7. I am so glad I got to see your blog. It is so interesting! I love art in any form. The angel on the cloud over the grave was beautiful. The iron door over the mauseleum was very appealing. I can see how it would be scary at dusk or after dark. I love seeing what people have on their tombstones. My mom saw the King Tut exhibit and I never understood her interest in it, as a kid. She and her mom and I went to London when I was in high school. We went to the Westmisister Abbey and my favorite, the Windsor Castle. I still have one of the rubbings from a tomb at W. Abby. I look forward to seeing what you write about Hosea. Things I never would have thought about. Things to ponder and to change my world. Thanks.

  8. When the boys were young we used to go for walks in old cemeteries. They were quiet and had a lot of beautiful scenery and it was much like going to a botanical garden. We loved to read the old tombstones in New England and think about the lives of the people there.


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