Memories! It’s funny what provokes them. This morning as I answered questions on Paul Greci’s blog about why I came to be a writer and whether I had liked writing from an early age, I mentioned the influence of the Albert Payson Terhune dog stories I’d read as a young girl.
The memory sent me Googling for the names of other books Terhune had written besides Lad, a Dog and I was stunned at the length of the list… over sixty books! He is said to be “the world’s most prolific and successful writer of dog stories [but] he wrote stories about human beings for more than 20 years before he sold his first dog story….
“He wrote eleven hours a day, six days a week for some 30 years.
“His kennels, Sunnybank, became the most famed collie kennels in the U.S.” The forty-four acre Sunnybank estate, in Wayne, New Jersey was originally the Terhune’s summer home until 1912 when Terhune made it his permanent residence. It is now maintained as Terhune-Sunnybank Park and is open to the public. “Visitors can visit the graves of many of the dogs mentioned in Terhune’s works and view a collection of Terhune’s book and dog awards at the Van Riper-Hopper Historic House Museum.”
That’s probably more than you needed or wanted to know about Terhune, but the information touched a nerve for me. Is it because for thirty-five years I’ve bred Shetland Sheepdogs, the breed so often incorrectly identified as miniature collies? Or that Terhune’s father, Edward Payson Terhune, was a Presbyterian minister (so is my husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law and son-in-law)?
Or is it that I’ve just discovered something vaguely akin to roots in the writing world… a fellow writer from a Presbyterian family who loved dogs? I didn’t know anything about him when I was a girl lost in his stories, but in hindsight I am grateful for his influence.
If you reminisce a bit, how far back can you go to find your writing roots? Is there one author or book that inspired you?