My father served on anti-submarine destroyer escorts in the North Atlantic Ocean during World War Two.

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Amazon River in Ecuador, South America

Learning about life on the Rio Aquarico, a tributary of the Amazon River in Ecuador, South America, gave me story ideas.

What similarities do you and your family share with ancestors? Think about your parents, grandparents and relatives then check any of the following that approximate your situation.

  1. A physical resemblance.
  2. A passion for sports.
  3. A job in the family business.
  4. Naming patterns for children.
  5. A yearning to travel.
  6. Cooking that reflects your heritage.
  7. An aptitude for music and the arts.
  8. An attachment to family cottage or home.
  9. Similar education/occupation.
  10. A love for nature and the outdoors.

Were you born with your great uncle’s auburn hair? Were you the only sibling to have your father’s “green thumb?” Did the ability to “fix things” come easy to you just like it had to the grandmother you’d never known? Whether it’s a physical characteristic, aptitude or interest, identifying connections can reveal family dynamics that link generations together.

Christianshaven District in Copenhagen Denmark

This canal scene in Christianshavn District would suit a novel set in Copenhagen, Denmark

What are the circles in your life?

Water represents a family dynamic that links four generations of my family together.

My grandparents emigrated from Italy in the early 1900’s. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean, landed at Ellis Island, New York and began new lives in Ontario, Canada. My father was a Naval Officer in World War Two and we lived in Sault Ste. Marie where he grew up. My mother was from Toronto and her family had a cottage on Lake Ontario. My father’s had a camp on Lake Superior. My parents loved “the water” and were excellent swimmers. We spent much time at the family cottages when I was young and I shared their connection to water. My husband and I live on Lake Superior close to the area where his family had a camp and my writing den faces the water. The dynamic continues with my children as my daughter is an excellent swimmer and my son, a skilled skater and avid fisherman.

Lake Superior Beach

Taking photos on Lake Superior beach walks helps me describe scenes in books.

Do you value authenticity?

Authenticity is important to me as a writer and my connection to water surfaces in The Inheritance.

The Tyrrhenian Sea plays a critical role in my novel. The sea is part of the Mediterranean. It is located off Italy’s western coast and Sicily is to its south. The Inheritance is set during 1897 to 1913 in Cetraro, a fishing village in Calabria, southern Italy on the Tyrrhenian coast. As part of my research, I travelled to Cetraro and photographed the Tyrrhenian Sea in order to portray it accurately in my writing.

In The Inheritance, the Tyrrhenian Sea’s rich marine life provides sustenance for the people but dangerous waves also crash against the rocky outcrops along the shoreline that are life-threatening. As a result, the sea serves as a metaphor for the opposing forces of good and evil in the novel and the conflicts they ignite, which are central to the story.

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What family dynamics do your ancestral connections reveal? I’d welcome your comments.

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Nana Caterina and Elvira

My Nana Caterina and her daughter, Elvira travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to begin new lives in Canada.

Arnold Joseph Perry with Naval Officer during WW2

My father, Arnold Joseph Perry (on the left) was a Naval Officer during World War Two.

Freighters on the St. Mary's River

Watching freighters on the St. Mary’s River reminds me of my grandparents’ journeys across the Atlantic Ocean.