POINT PLEASANT — Everyone has a story though only a few literally write one.
Most know Hilda Austin as the director of the Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce. However, many more are discovering she’s also a published author.
Austin recently published her novel, “Grace’s Journey” which she describes as a story that takes place in the mid-1800’s, focusing on a young girl “thrust into a new world where people are generally considered to be backward or behind the times,” Austin said.
“There are no modern conveniences such as electricity, indoor plumbing, paved roads or telephones,” she added. “The girl is accepted into the new-found family and learns about all of the ways of living in the early rural setting.”
Ohio Valley Publishing recently asked Austin questions about the process of writing her novel and what she hopes readers take away from the experience. Who better to answer those questions than the author herself in her own words which appear below.
Why write the book?
“I wanted to ‘paint’ a picture of life from my parents’ early childhood and those ancestors before them for my granddaughters Chloe and Olivia. I wanted them to know about the basic goodness of people who were hard working, uncomplaining and about getting through their hardships. I wanted them to appreciate all of the luxuries we have today that we often take for granted.”
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
“My favorite part was the bringing out of memories and scenes that I had completely forgotten before actually writing them down. I also enjoyed creating the family members; their names, habits, quirks. These characters were waiting almost every day for me to get busy telling them what to do or say.”
What do you want readers to take away from your book?
“It would be great if they felt good after reading it. I want them to know they are privileged in this wonderful world we live in; that despite horrific tragedies around the globe and even personal sufferings, we are still blessed to have lived on this earth and that we humans are resilient and are able to re-create ourselves time after time.”
What was your biggest inspiration to write this book?
“My main inspiration were my granddaughters and God. When I felt unsure about writing, fearing it was a notion of a quirky old lady doing something out of her league, He would put a little teaser in front of me as His way of confirming that I should do this.”
Did you incorporate anything from your own life and experiences into this book?
“My dad, who was born in 1901, used to talk about rural living. When I was small, I went to hog butcherings with him. My mom had the task of preserving vegetables and caring for chickens; my dad made soap and chopped wood. I experienced getting up to cold wooden floors and steaming laundry hanging behind the coal and wood stoves. It was still a good life.”
What is something about you that most don’t know?
“You probably would never guess that I am basically a shy person. When I was eight to twelve years old, I would hide if we had visiting relatives or ‘company’ as we called it then. I would often hide in the woods so that my mother couldn’t find me! I’ve always been insecure about my everything; looks, personality, mixing with large groups of people. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that all of us, myself included, have positive attributes. We all have something; a talent that’s unique to each of us. While I don’t need to apologize for not feeling confident early on, I wonder if I just might have been a successful writer back then instead of waiting until I was seventy-five years old to follow my dream?”
(Editor’s note: Austin began writing “Grace’s Jounrey” in October 2018 and finished it later that year. The novel can be purchased online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. Austin also keeps copies at the Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street in Point Pleasant. Austin has written a total of three novels and is currently working on her fourth.)
Beth Sergent contributed to this article.