Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marian Allen Models Her Book After Her Spunky Aunt Ruth

Aunt Ruth
One Aunt Inspires Another

When I was growing up, the head of the family was my Aunt Ruth and her second-in-command was her twin sister, Aunt Rose. Through one of those peculiar juxtapositions of birth orders of siblings and siblings' siblings, they were the same age as my grandfather AND his aunts.

They grew up bossy, especially Aunt Ruth. When she said she was praying for something, we knew part of her report was going to include the words, "So I told Him...."

EEL'S REVERENCE called for a spunky senior, a female priest of small stature but immense inner strength. Naturally, I thought of Aunt Ruth. The character, Aunt Libby, became her own person as I wrote her, of course, but I kept her true to my vision of her by measuring her against Aunt Ruth.

Now that I'm a senior, myself, I appreciate my aunt even more. She was born early in the century, lived through two world wars and the Great Depression, raised three children and mentored many.

Aunt Ruth ran a popular teen club in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church for years. The only refreshments she ever served: dill pickles and potato chips. She directed the Youth Choir. She called anybody younger than 45 "kiddoes" and said teenagers had to be handled with kid gloves to keep them involved.

Our whole family was poor -- er, financially minimal -- but I was never ashamed in any company and I never looked for somebody to look down on to make myself feel big. Why? Because I was raised hearing Aunt Ruth say, "We're no better than anybody else, but we're every bit as good!"

One night, after a full day of chauffering women younger than she was to the grocery and doctor appointments (she called them "my old ladies"), she sat down in the living room under her picture of Jesus and went to sleep. She never woke up.

I used Aunt Ruth to model Pearl, the main character in my short story "The Dragon of North 24th Street", and I couldn't have written EEL'S REVERENCE without thinking of her; her fire and compassion were exactly what I wanted for Aunt Libby. My dream casting for the role would be Betty White, if the director can refrain from making her do her "naughty" thing. I loved the way she worked on the tv show Boston Legal, so I know she has depth and breadth.

Thanks again, Aunt Ruth!
Marian Allen was born in Louisville, Kentucky and now lives in rural Indiana. For as long as she can remember, she has loved telling and being told stories. She writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, humor, horror, mainstream, and anything else she can wrestle into fixed form.

Allen has had stories in on-line and print publications, on coffee cans and the wall of an Indian restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky.

She is a member of the Southern Indiana Writers Group.

Allen is active in the Friends of Harrison County Library, Woman's Literary Club of Corydon and Community Unity, which promotes diversity appreciation and non-violent problem solving.

She posts at the group blog Fatal Foodies on Tuesdays and monthly on The Write Type, That Book Place and Echelon Exploration.

The Eel -- Where the coast meets the sea. Where merfolk with snake-like tails mingle with land-dwellers in uneasy truce. Where that truce is about to explode into violence.

Aunt Libby -- A crone, a short-tempered scrapper, a True Priest of Micah.

Loach -- A genderless young mermayd not above a spot of robbery.

When corrupt priests, greedy merchants, and local revolutionaries try to use Aunt Libby to enflame one side against another, they all learn that an old woman and a young mermayd make a serious stumbling block to their plans. Libby and Loach race against time, before the sea of the Eel runs red with blood.

Read "Line of Descent", a free short story set in the EEL'S REVERENCE world.

Available in eBook formats only.

Facebook Author page


  1. Your Aunt Ruth sounds like she was quite a character!

    Morgan Mandel

  2. You got that right, Morgan! The scene in "The Dragon of North 24th Street" about Pearl and the ... working girl ... was one Aunt Ruth told on herself, almost word-for-word. ~grin~

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  3. I agree. I would have loved to have met Aunt Ruth. Thanks for sharing her with us.

  4. You're welcome, Cheryl. She was, as she would have said, "a pistol".

  5. I grew up financially minimal, too, and wish I had had an Aunt Ruth to tell us we were just as good as anybody else. Lots of discrimination in my formative years.

    I'm sure your aunt is well pleased that you have kept her spirit alive through your character, Marian.

  6. Mine was an Aunt Helen (Ellen, really, which is my middle name, but for some reason she preferred to be known as Helen.) What a Spunky Senior she was ... the oldest of four first generation Americans who came of age in the Great Depression ... when we ran out of beds downstairs, she invited me upstairs to live with her and Uncle Adam. Sweet, Stern, Sympathetic and Savvy - no one quite like her ... except maybe me!

  7. Maryann, I appreciate Aunt Ruth's attitude a lot. I know other people who grew up feeling insecure and inferior, some of them desperate for somebody to feel superior to. Aunt Ruth was a perfect antidote to all that. :)

    Terry, Your Aunt Helen sounds like a treasure! You, too! :)

  8. Oh, I love Aunt Ruth. Mine was Aunt Nellie. She made it into a book of mine, too.

    Great post!

  9. Hi, Liz! Aunt Ruth was one strong lady. I feel very blessed to have had her in my life. :)


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