What does Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo, NY, have to with my writing inspiration?
Although I started writing historical fiction in 2004, the process really started in my childhood. My Dad loved old cemeteries, history, antiques, and flea markets, and I inherited the bug.
A WW II veteran, occasionally he would 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 on the curb for the garbage man.
Of course, we hated it at the time, but the funny thing is my sisters Jeanie, Mary Jane, and Nikki keep up the family tradition to this day.
Forest Lawn cemetery is one of the first, professionally designed cemeteries in America.
Its first internment took place in 1850, and many famous people are buried there, including Rick James, and Red Jacket, a Native American Seneca orator and chief of the Wolf Clan.
Beautifully landscaped, with sloping green hills, abundant flower gardens, and marble fountains, you can walk the grounds for an entire day and still not see everything.
But the mausoleums held the greatest fascination for me.
My top favorite sat partially built into a hill. It had an iron grille built across the doorway, with the stone “door” deliberately left half open. For someone to enter?
Or perhaps to leave? How eerie, especially in the fall, when dead leaves had blown inside the crypt and the wind whistled faintly through the iron grille.
On a a windy autumn evening at dusk, it sent chills down my spine.
Forest Lawn was one of the first steps in the journey to becoming a writer. And what is the first step, you ask? Developing an imagination!
There is much “scope for imagination” at Forest Lawn, as Anne of Green Gables was wont to say.
I spent hours wandering among the gravestones and mausoleums, reading inscriptions and wondering about the people behind them. Some had Bible verses. Others had sad, sweet sentiments such as “My beloved wife, gone too soon.”