Stories have always been part of my life. My older sisters read to me, and enjoyed changing the story to see me object. I had the stories memorized before I could read. Then, my sisters married and moved away, my mother became ill, and Dad decided I was too old for bedtime stories. I remember resolving to tell my own stories. For a couple of years, I whispered them until I fell asleep.
During World War II, children’s radio programs contained propaganda. My after-school hero was Hop Harrigan, an American pilot. Hans Seifert, his nemesis was a German spy. One day, as I was prattling on about Herr Seifert’s evils, Dad told me I was part German. Oh horrors!
Somehow, Germans and the war entered my bedtime stories and I began to write them down. Mother passed away, and my only stories came from the radio or those I made up. Then, in fourth grade, the teacher told us to write about an Indian. My paper earned an A. In high school, a teacher said, “Write a paper on any subject you like.” From then on, I loved the writing assignments others hated.
I helped edit our small high school newspaper. When news from the student body was sparse, I started a serial as filler. Moving to a city school, I added an elective to my secretarial major – Journalism. It taught me about the 5 W’s — who, what, where, when and why. I still refer to them as I write.