In the end, I suspect grandmother Clara and grandfather Frank were more than distant memories. Perhaps unseen hands channeled the truth into the emotions that drove the characters in my story. Of course, we’ll never know for sure.
Meet M. Lee Buompensiero
I became a teller of tales early thanks to my life with grandmother Clara. While other kiddies feasted on more lighthearted fare, I was immersed in tales of grandmother’s early life in the backwoods of Canada. Stories with a paranormal edge and steeped in religious superstitions, she told of young women and men choosing the wrong decisions and always with devastating results. I would one day learn that grandmother’s “fables” were steeped in real-life experiences. Decades later, I would discover the truth—the tragic secret she had locked away in her heart.
I am, by nature, a skeptic. Years of immersion can result in immunity. So, it was with me. Then, the unimaginable happened—I was reunited with family I never knew existed. Like a big puzzle, our history began to take shape. Then I met my Cousin Linda (we are only a few years apart in age) through the miracle of online ancestry research begun by her eldest daughter Lynn. We bonded immediately and began to share our separate histories, finding one link after another, piecing together our grandparents’ histories until a picture emerged. From those fragmented threads, the tale of Sumerland took shape. When I started the novel, I thought I was creating fiction. By the time I finished, I knew there was more truth than fable. While the incidents in the story may be crafted in allegory, the emotional devastation wrought by the human failings of the characters—the lies, the betrayal, the deep hurt—are very real.
I may still be a skeptic in many ways, but there is one thing I’ve come to accept. When the door seems bolted shut, a stronger force than skepticism can fling it open.