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A Few Words from Norma Huss

August 18, 2014

Cherish12-1-2013-Front-400I’m pleased to welcome Norma Huss as a guest blogger this week. Norma calls herself The Grandma Moses of Mystery. The original Grandma Moses was a primitive artist who only received recognition when she turned eighty. She continued painting until she was one hundred one. Since Norma’s first book was published a month before her eightieth birthday, she qualifies on one end. Since her mother lived one hundred three years, she has every hope of qualifying on the tail end. Norma and her husband sailed on Chesapeake Bay and beyond for many years, which is why she set her first two mysteries in that location. Her non-fiction, A Knucklehead in Alaska, was written with her father many years ago, in his words, telling the story of a hot-headed nineteen-year-old who went to Alaska hoping to earn college money.

Today, Norma’s going to tell us a little something about her most recent work, Cherish.

Back in the day before e-books and accepted self publishing, I thought of many ideas for novels, and wrote several that failed to find a publisher. Most were for children or young adults, since my own children were only beginning to outgrow that stage. Then I switched to writing mysteries for my own age group and finally found a publisher. But my grandchildren were great readers, and an audience I wanted to reach before they got too old.

I pulled out those dusty pages so long forgotten. So outdated. But I found a germ, a spark, that kindled a new idea. An updated idea. Yeah, that teen doesn’t dig up a skeleton—there isn’t really a skeleton after all. There’s a ghost. Yes. A ghost from the past. Cherish, a tormented ghost, in fact, a ghost who doesn’t know where her body is. A teenage ghost from…where?

Hey, I know about teens from World War II and shortly thereafter. I was there. But how did that teen die in 1946? And what was her life like? She was a high school sophomore, just like the current teen who sees the ghost. But her life was so different. No cell phone. No TV. An ex. G.I. in her Lit class, finishing high school on the G.I. Bill.

So I did it, wrote a story for today’s teens (with technical help from the younger generation). I placed a teen from today into her grandmother’s world. Of course, I had to reverse that as well, placing the teen from 1946 into a world of grungy jeans, cars with seat belts, and no trick-or-treating by anyone over twelve. (Or is it ten now?) And, would I find a way to bring today’s teen home? That could be a problem.

I needed plenty of help with today’s technology. I needed help with my memories of 1946 as well—readily available on the Internet. Some things I relearned played into my plot. Mention of the Nuremberg trials of war prisoners worked for one character’s paranoia. The OSS (Office of Strategic Services-later the CIA) was cited by another character’s rumors. But the teen, with memories of the war years, the rationing, the shock of men she knew dying in battle, the lack of coupons for new shoes, wanted to ignore those background noises, just as today’s teen would. She lived in the moment without thoughts that her words might lead to danger.

 Cherish (A Ghost Mystery) was a lot of fun to write. I’ve just revealed the cover on Goodreads (and here). Publication date is September 1, 2014, right in time for a pre-Halloween read. Early readers have enjoyed it. In fact, they think this book is the perfect grandmother, granddaughter read. The two generations will each discover much about the other generation. (Might I be a bit egotistical and agree? Why not? One must believe in her own work!)

One certainly must! You have every right to believe in your work – and to be proud of it. Cherish sounds like a great story. I love the idea of different generations reading it together and learning about each other through its pages.  Thanks for sharing your news and a bit about yourself with the readers of Birth of a Novel.

Readers, here are some links if you’d like to learn more about Norma and her books:

Amazon author page: 
11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2014 7:44 AM

    Sounds like a terrific read, Norma, and today’s teens might well enjoy learning a little about a time that isn’t even a glimmer in their memory.


  2. August 18, 2014 9:51 AM

    I agree, Claire. This books sounds like a painless way for today’s young people to learn about a time that saw great changes in the way lives were lived.

  3. August 18, 2014 12:27 PM

    Claire, I learned a lot about how teens now do things as well (grandchildren, you know, and two of them were just here).

    And Sandra, thanks for inviting me to visit your blog.

  4. August 18, 2014 1:03 PM

    That does sound like a great read–hits a lot of my sweet spots. My mother, who is probably older than you, Norma, lives with me. She does speak of the rationing, the sadness, the fear of those days. I will definitely be buying this and reading it to Mom–or maybe I will get my grandchildren to read it to her. We all have very similar sweet spots.

    And three cheers for you on account of you are an awesome dame. (That’s a good thing.)

    Also–thanks to Sandra for bringing us together.

    • August 18, 2014 1:40 PM

      The pleasure is mine, Larkin. Love the idea of your grandchildren reading Norma’s book to their great-grandmother. Activities that unite generations are the best.

    • August 18, 2014 9:37 PM

      Larkin, I’m 84, and my mother lived to 103 (my dad to 94), so I plan to write for a while yet. I think your mother – and grandchildren will enjoy Cherish (and Kayla, the 21st century girl).

  5. August 18, 2014 1:18 PM

    Sounds like a big jump for you Norma but you ran with a great idea and the book sounds like a winner. All the best to you!

  6. August 18, 2014 9:40 PM

    Well, it was a jump, however I started writing for children and teens, but no one ever bought any of my books, just articles and short stories. So I made the jump first to books like the ones I liked to read and that seemed to work better. But I used everything I’d learned in the meantime for my leap back.

  7. August 23, 2014 2:49 PM

    Norma’s first book was published a month before her eightieth birthday? Wow! There’s hope for me yet. Thanks for this inspiring post.

    • August 23, 2014 3:00 PM

      That’s a pretty inspiring accomplishment, isn’t it, Susan? A real testament to the power of never giving up. As for you, I’m sure there’s hope.

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