I have yet another new author to introduce to you this month. Betty Kulich has a novella in the same anthology my inverse mystery short story “Bovine” appears in, Ohio Trail Mix. Her story, “The Mask”, is genre-bending, mixing history and fantasy. Tell us all about your story, Betty!
How can someone write creative fiction based on historical facts? Good question and one that I had to answer to write a short novella for an anthology assignment for my Ohio Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. It all started with two independent elements: first, a creative fictional concept of a mask possessing supernatural powers and second, how to link its fantasy with facts about the Ohio Literary Trail. How would I create the connection?
I started by gathering history about various Ohio Literary Trail sites (homes, farms, and estates), and why they were relevant to the Ohio Literary Trail. It took several visits to different locals before I found places and facts that intrigued me enough to write about them. I was always fascinated with the Civil War and loved the romance of the era since I watched the epic cinematic production of Margaret Mitchell’s novel – Gone with the Wind. My research revealed several Ohio Literary Trail locations had ties to the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. With these Ohio historical connectors, a fictional story began to gel in my mind.
The House of Four Pillars in Toledo along the Maumee River intrigued me. The appearance of the home and its architecture spoke Civil War era to me. Internet searches and information from both old newspapers and historical societies documented that the house existed during the Civil War era and had been used as a station for the Underground Railroad. It became easy to imagine a trunk full of long forgotten items in the attic of the House of Four Pillars. An old steamer trunk was perfect for a supernatural mask to rest, maintaining its secrets until the time of revelation for its next heir! Now I had a relevant element to begin weaving a story. The image of a dusty old trunk would transport readers back in time. Now I could begin interspersing history with fictional characters around an intriguing story line that could connect the past to the present—all connected to the supernatural mask.
My continued research took me to the Harriet Beecher-Stowe house in Cincinnati, followed by a full day trip to Ripley touring the John Rankin House, museum, and the Underground Railroad Museum. These venues provided contextual historical information—details that I could use as the backdrop for my fictional story of a supernatural mask that somehow appeared in Ohio during slavery times. With the historical side of the story line developing, I now had to ponder on how the mask was supernatural, why had it become supernatural, who had created it, and for what purpose? What would happen when the mask was worn?
To learn the answers to these questions, come back next week for the second part of “Mixing History and Fantasy” by Betty Kulich.
Ohio is full of literary connections. Libraries, museums, homes of authors, historical sites.Did you know Superman was born in Ohio?Did you know Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in the Cincinnati area?Check out the Ohio Literary Trail, compiled by Ohioana, for more interesting facts.
But before that, we invite you to enjoy some stories inspired by visits to a handful of Ohio Literary Trail sites in the last year. Your imagination might be sparked. Or at the very least, your curiosity!
“Mazza Mystery” by Bettie Boswell: Just who was the woman pretending to be a known artist? Why?
“Bovine” by JPC Allen: An elitist author comes to a backwater Ohio county, thinking he’s found the perfect setting for the perfect crime.
“Between Semicolons and Plot Twisters” by Rebecca Waters: An author finds more in common with Harriet Beecher Stowe than she ever would have guessed, when modern-day slavery comes close to home.
“The Mask” by Betty Kulich: A gift of true love is passed through the ages.
“Books: Caged and Free” by Michelle L. Levigne: On a moonlit night, old books come to life to share their stories.
Betty Kulich is an ordained pastor and serves as an Associate Pastor with her husband,
Rick of 50 years at Redeemer’s Church, Columbus, Ohio. Betty is the Director of Women’s Ministry for Harvest Preparation International Ministries (HPIM) of Sarasota, Florida for Mexico and Central America. Winner of the 2021 CIPA Book Award for General Fiction (The River & El Rio). Author of The Mask: A Historical Fiction Novella for an anthology based around the Ohio Literary Trail. Devotional author for Guidepost Books & Abundant Books. Winner of the 2020 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to being an international speaker & author, she hosts short vlogs on Facebook called “Life Outside the Pages” and a YouTube ministry channel for Hispanic Women. Betty is a certified P.O.W.E.R. speaker through AWSA. Member of AWSA, WW, ACFW, CIPA, Blue Ridge. Connect with Betty on her website, FB page, or contact page.