ABOUT

TRUE STORIES, MOSTLY

This site is my writing blog, a place to pay tribute to writers and screenwriters I admire, and to create picture shows of my own. This site also includes detail about an historical novel I wrote, The Color of Prayer, and the Lybarger family history it’s based on. You’ll find an excerpt, too, of a memoir I’m writing now, with the working title After a Little Rain on Thursday.

JENNIFER WILKE

My first published writing was a column in my hometown Alaska newspaper, when I was young and had an opinion about everything. 

After owning a coffee house before there were coffee houses, I ran for city council (lost), then spent a season commercial fishing, which led to divorcing the erstwhile fisherman and peace activist who turned out not to be a peaceful person. My luck improved when my writing led to a job involving travel to most of the villages and schools in rural Alaska. (Small plane bush travel advice: fly with the oldest pilot; wear all the clothes you’d need to survive on the ground if the plane went down and you survived the crash.)  

I wrote a stage play, inspired by an aunt who always carried an umbrella (It pays to be prepared), which got produced on stage in my hometown. Sweet. I ended up leaving Alaska to study screenwriting at USC in Los Angeles. Culture shock ensued. I had a few screenplays optioned, none produced. Met some wise and some dastardly people. Leaving LA was like falling off the merry-go-round, leaving me bruised but still alive.

My great-grandfather picked me up and dusted me off, by letting my aunt (with the umbrella) find all his Civil War diaries, papers, and letters in the attic. I devoted myself to writing his story, my first historical novel, The Color of Prayer. I was inspired by his being wounded in the knee at the Battle of Corinth in 1862, learning to walk again, and returning to his regiment to fight to the end of the war in 1865. My novel is a way of sharing the trials of all the men and women on the Union side, risking all because they wanted the country to be what it should be, and they didn’t want to let down George Washington.

I’m working on a memoir now, After a Little Rain on Thursday, from a Ukrainian idiom similar to “a month of Sundays.” My memoir is about love and loss, the movies, the dreams we follow. But when your dreams don’t quite work out, what’s the next best test of courage and character? Letting go of a grand dream and getting a dog, or choosing a new grand dream and getting a dog?