Today, please welcome Joan Hall to The Write Stuff. Joan is going to tell us a bit about her short story, House of Sorrow, and she also has a wonderful excerpt to share, as well. I’ve read this story, and I can attest to it being a perfect lead-in to her next series, and a great stand-alone short story of its own, even with the lingering mystery at the end. I’m very happy to have Joan here, especially since she’s talking about an era I remember all too well. Joan, the floor is all yours!
House of Sorrow: Vietnam
Thank you for hosting me today, Marcia. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with your readers and to talk about my newest release.
House of Sorrow is a short-story prequel to my upcoming novel Cold Dark Night, book one of my Legends of Madeira series. It’s the story of Ruth Hazelton, a reclusive older woman who lives in a two-story Victorian house in the fictional town of Madeira, New Mexico. Ruth reflects on her life, particularly when she and her husband Lee first moved to town.
Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s, so I included historical events into the story as well as a few personal memories. One of the biggest stories about that period is the Vietnam War.
As a child, I remember Dad turned on the NBC Nightly News with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Every. Single. Night. Naturally, there were always stories about the war.
Vietnam wasn’t a popular war (not that any of them are) but the men who fought in Southeast Asia didn’t receive a hero’s welcome when they came home.
They were told to keep a low profile. I know of at least one veteran who was advised not to wear his uniform upon arriving in the states. It’s sad because those who fought didn’t have a choice. I had two cousins who served there, one in the Army, the other in the Navy. One carried the scars of that war until he died.
Vietnam Memorial Photo by Joan Hall
Today, the Vietnam Memorial and Wall is one of the most popular tourist attractions in DC. The Wall lists the names of over 58 thousand who died or declared missing in action.
In the early seventies, MIA and POW bracelets became popular items. Between 1970 and 1976 approximately 5 million bracelets were sold. Those who wore them vowed to keep them on until the soldier named on the bracelet, or their remains, were returned to America.
In House of Sorrow, Ruth’s brother was listed as missing in action after his plane was shot down. Ruth wears a commemorative bracelet.
“Is that a new piece of jewelry?” Margaret asked as Ruth entered the room.
She extended her arm. “Yes. It’s an MIA bracelet.”
“I’ve heard a lot of people are wearing them. It’s a wonderful way to remember those who are missing. Shows their families that others care.”
“This one is pretty special to me.”
Margaret read the inscription.
Lt. Col. Michael Morgan, USAF, 12 April 1967, Laos.
“Any particular reason, dear?”
“Michael Morgan is my brother.”
“Oh, my. I had no idea.”
“I don’t talk about it a lot. So many people are against the war. You never know how some will react.”
“Honey, you can tell me anything. I’m not judgmental. As far as the war, it doesn’t matter if a person is for or against it. The men who are fighting aren’t there by choice. It’s foolish to blame them.”
“I agree. It’s hard enough not knowing Mike’s whereabouts. We don’t even know if he’s still alive.”
Margaret patted Ruth’s arm. “Not knowing can be worse.”
Dream home or damned home?
Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.
But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.
Until the unthinkable happens.
Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.
Buy House of Sorrow HERE
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