Solo Press II Publishing
My husband, Richard, and I have begun sharing 30 years of writings and letters from my mom, Gwen E. Campbell. She was a prolific writer, weaver-spinner, needlepoint expert, and all-round open and sometimes quite funny lady.
When she died in 2011, I gathered all her letters and copies of her books as I recollected her life. Rarely does one even have a few letters saved, much less 10 years’ worth plus more than twenty books!
We felt we had discovered a rare treasure and realized that her writings were worth sharing. She had made little effort to get them published in the 1980’s. Then we discovered a document that transferred all publishing rights to me!
Richard and I have prepared the first three of twenty unpublished works as e-books. We are also sharing her letters, some of her short stories, poems, and whatever else we discover, on solopress2.wordpress.com blog. This blog is about her, but it is about us as well. When I can remember life going on around us at the time of her writing, I insert it to fill out the stories. I kept her letters and she kept many of mine.
Looking forward to all that is “Past and Present”.
Alexis Campbell-Jansky and Richard Jansky
The Story Behind the Book
The following was written in 1983 by Gwen as she was musing about writing her first novel.
At age 50 I have discovered that I should have been a researcher and I am so lucky that I wasn’t. I would have gotten lost in some library or vault and would never have written anything. Now the thing I found out this week is that writing is so much FUN.
When I tried to write before, the thinking part was fun but the putting down on paper was not. Now that part is fun, too. I tend to agonize a bit but then that is my nature, isn’t it?
Now I just had the nicest bit of good luck with EAB. (referring to the mystery novel Disappearance of E.A.B.). I decided to have Wendell and Amelia come from New Hampshire and don’t ask why, because I don’t know. Maybe I liked the way the name sounds or something. So then I decided where approximately in the state the town of Wellman would be.
I got really serious about where it would be and I had a problem. The town--courthouse, newspaper and graveyard--had to disappear; I pondered over several ways this could happen. For a town to be large enough to have a newspaper it has to be about 5,000 in population, and to have a town that size disappear, is hard.
I first thought of having it swallowed up by a larger city which has happened to Mesa and Tempe, Arizona, by Phoenix. But then New Hampshire isn’t Phoenix and there hasn’t been that much growth, for God’s sake, in the whole state of New Hampshire.
I began looking at my several maps and what do you know? In the last 20 years or so they built a reservoir right smack dab where I wanted Wellman. Several little towns that had been from 100-200 population 20 years ago are zip today. So there I had it. I had an explosive truck blow up and demolish the courthouse and newspaper so the records couldn’t be moved. I had it happen in war time so it would be too hard to re-build and then the war would also have drawn a lot of people out of town. Also I had the state condemn the land for the reservoir and since there are two rivers running into the area, it probably flooded out and the people were glad to sell and get out.
Wellman is under the Franklin Falls Reservoir. You go north on US4 out of Concord, turn off on US3 at Webster and go to Tilton, then turn left on County 3A for 6 miles and there you are.
Gwen always wrote by hand with a specific favorite type of pen at her freshly cleared off dining room table. She would transcribe her work soon afterwards. In the early 80’s she would copy her handwritten manuscripts with an IBM Selectric typewriter then in later years a desktop computer with Word Star software. She did keep copies of her work on 3½” floppy disks which we were able to read and convert to MS Word for publishing today as ebooks.
Read an excerpt of “The Disappearance of E.A.B.”:
For the first time, Anna was actually glad to be teaching. The students were such a distraction they kept her from thinking, and she had a lot to not think about. Still school took up only so much time and that left a lot of hours to fill. Time seemed to expand, isolating her from the world. She felt enclosed in time. Time now ran backwards as well as forwards, and she found herself thinking of the old days of her childhood, hating the memories, and yet unable to ignore them. It was like touching an aching tooth. It didn’t relieve the pain but at least gave the illusion of doing something. She would get home from teaching and just take off her shoes and sit. Then she’d get up, make some coffee and listen to the radio.
Before Christmas, before Wendell died, she had planned her time so she wouldn’t be alone too much. Weekends were always busy, and at least one or two dinner dates during the week made her grateful for some time alone on the weekends. This gave her space to take care of life’s necessary chores, like shopping, cleaning and paying the bills. Since Easter, she hadn’t wanted to go out. That week had been too much, and not enough. She couldn’t let go of Danny and found herself thinking about him often. She was at odds with herself and everyone around her and found it hard to get interested in conversation or people.
She couldn’t get those seven newspapers out of her mind. She couldn’t get any of the newspapers out of her mind. The numbers, the sheer numbers of the papers haunted her. If there had just been the seven, she might have dismissed the whole thing, but stacks and stacks of them were too much. She started going through Wendell’s papers from the file drawers. Mostly it was just boring, but she did have some pain and anxiety in going through them anyway. Picking up the scraps, the bits and pieces of his whole life, created a feeling she found hard to identify; sort of a swelling or fullness in her throat that wouldn’t let go. She cried. She hadn’t cried at the funeral or afterwards, but these odds and ends of a life brought tears, and she didn’t know why.
Genre Mystery, Romance
Publisher Solo Press II
Date published February 2014
Word count 74,000, approx.127 pages
Other books by Gwen E. Campbell
Catch up with the author –
WordPress Blog http://solopress2.wordpress.com
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gwen-E-Campbell/198460377010741?ref=profile
Gwen E. Campbell 1933-2011
During her almost 80 years of life, Gwen was an avid reader who by the age of nine realized that she was going to be an author. As a young girl in the 1930’s and 40’s she and her mother travel through quaint, dusty towns of southwest Texas, Oklahoma and California. Later in her adult life she settled in southern Oregon and went on to write twenty fictional books, a book of short stories and poems, several children’s books, and two dozen genealogical books.
Before she wrote her first fictional book in 1983, she had spent twenty years as an accomplished weaver, spinner, and quilter.
Her daughter Alexis Campbell Jansky and her son-in-law Richard Jansky are responsible for editing and publishing all her written works.