by Kimberly MacCarron
As writers, don’t we love to read interesting stories? Some people wonder where we get our ideas. Sometimes there is a random story or an idea, but other times it could be just a day. Just another day.
Take February 19th for instance. Google it. Research some of the most interesting things that have happened on that date throughout history, and you have yourself a story. During my fun research project, I must admit that I’ve read more than I ever wanted to about cannibalism and murder for hire. But it sure does get your creative juices and just plain curiosity running.
Wouldn’t it be interesting for a character to know some strange and random piece of trivia like the first prize was inserted in a Cracker Jack box on this date back in 1913?
Or maybe one of the 800 people killed by one of the sixty tornadoes in the southern U.S. in 1884 was the great, great grandfather of the character in your book. Or—even better—the reincarnation of one of them.
If you’re into murder and suspense or a legal thriller, you might be interested to know that on this date in 1859 Daniel Sickles was the first man acquitted of a murder charge on the grounds of temporary insanity. And you should definitely check out that story! It seems that scandal in political circles was big back then as well. He killed the son of Francis Scott Key, who was the district attorney of the District of Columbia, and happened to be having a little thing on the side with Sickles’s wife. I guess Sickles didn’t much like that, so he shot Key right in front of the White House. Good times. Good times.
For those with a little thing for a mob story, you might be interested in the demise of Frank “The Dasher” Abbandando at the young age of thirty-two. This contract killer for the infamous Murder Inc., gang was executed at Sing Sing in New York on this date in 1942. Guess Dasher didn’t dash fast enough to avoid the electric chair.
Probably the most disturbing story of this date involved the famous Donner Party. And this wasn’t a party with streamers, balloons or tuxedo-clad men serving champagne. It’s sad. It’s disturbing. It’s tragic as tragic can get. After starting out from Missouri in May of 1846 on their way to California, this group of ninety got trapped in the snow in the Sierra Nevada. After starvation, disease and injury took the life of many in the party, most of the survivors resorted to cannibalism. Only forty-eight survived. The first of the rescuers reached them on this date back in 1847. Yes. You read that right. More than nine months under those awful conditions! While reading this story, I wanted to cry. There was an account of a young girl who actually took part in eating her own mother and sister. This story is a testament of what human beings will endure just to survive.
But on a happy note, how ‘bout that Cracker Jack fact?
I’m not saying that my next YA will be about cannibalism or mob activity or even a plea of temporary insanity, but researching a specific date might just get that creativity flowing.
Happy Birthday to Amy Tan, Victoria Justice, Jeff Kinney, Smokey Robinson, Seal, Jeff Daniels, and Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543)! Come on! I know he’s dead and all, but the guy discovered that the earth is round. We have to include him!
Happy February 19th, and may you all have an endless supply of Cracker Jacks.
Now you pick a random date and research it. It’s fun! I promise! Report back and tell me one interesting thing. 🙂