It was mid-summer in 1999 when I told my wife that we needed to drive to San Francisco and visit the Sutro's ruins adjacent to the Cliff House. The bathhouse had opened in 1896 and burned to the ground in 1966. Carol asked why it was so important for us to visit the ruins that day. I had no answer but knew we had to go.
Later that morning, we pulled into the parking lot that sat above remnants of a concrete foundation, splashed by cool ocean waves. We walked down the trail, then sat on the weathered concrete. That's when it hit me, and I was unable to hold back the tears that had been building on the hike down.
As a young boy, my father had spent time in each of the seven pools. It was also a place where my grandfather had visited prior to returning to Armenia to help fund the Armenian resistance during the genocide. Several months after his departure, my grandmother received word that he had been murdered by Turkish soldiers.
As I sat on the dampened concrete, I knew that I had to write "Bloody Soil," an historical fiction novel, chronicling the journey of several families through hell.
After much research online and at the University of California Fresno's library, words began spilling out onto paper. Tears often welled as I tortured my characters much like family members had been, beginning in 1914. Some of my ancestors had reached Ellis Island, while others lay bloodied on rugged trails.
I believe all of us have had events in our lives that can be woven into novels. My manuscript, "Possum Belly Queen," is fiction, but a few of the characters are modeled after individuals I met while selling amusement park and carnival rides. I also created Armenian characters who will appear in future books. What I have discovered in my writing is that I should visit my personal library more often and browse through sixty, plus years of heartfelt material, some worthy of publication, some not.