Many readers aren’t aware that fiction writers do research for their books, sometimes more than authors of nonfiction.
I was raised in Montgomery, Alabama, where my forthcoming Southern Gothic novel, SWEET BYE AND BYE, takes place in 1945. But I didn’t rely only on my memory to weave historical facts throughout the book. I researched the state that had been my home until I went to grad school at Florida State, then to Minneapolis, London, Italy and New York.
Some of my research never made it into the book, except through sense memory, and I don’t want to leave it on the cutting room floor. Here are fun facts about Alabama. They include a cast of characters whose names you’ll recognize. Enjoy.
FUN FACTS ABOUT ALABAMA by Anne Randolph, author of SWEET BYE AND BYE, a Southern Gothic novel set in Montgomery, Alabama 1945 www.AnneRandolph.com/blog
• The first Open Heart Surgery took place in Montgomery, Alabama in 1902. The patient lived to tell the tale.
• Two classical singers from Montgomery sang at the Metropolitan Opera: Nell Rankin and my brother, James Atherton, who at one time was an accompanist when Fanny Flagg became a finalist in the Miss Alabama pageant.
• Tony Tennille of Captain and Tennille, hit singer in the 1970s, was from Montgomery, Alabama. Her father owned Tennille’s Furniture Store.
• The musical group Alabama has a Museum in Fort Payne.
• The Wright Brothers flew airplanes in Montgomery at the site of Maxwell Air Force Base—my great-uncle, W.C. Thomas, Chief Justice of Alabama Supreme Court, once flew with them.
• Maxwell Air Force Base has more brass at the Air War College than the Pentagon.
• Alabama was the fourth state to secede from the Union in 1861, but the north east county of Winston, known as the Free State of Winston, seceded from Alabama during the Civil War.
• The Confederate flag was designed in Alabama in 1861 and was flown over the Alabama State Capital until 1993.
• Presidential candidate, Governor George C. Wallace served four terms as Alabama governor. His second wife taught me to water ski at Girl Scout Camp.
• My grandfather, Judge Jonathan Render Thomas was head of the Alabama Supreme Court when Martin Luther King, Jr. preached at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church across from the Supreme Court building in Montgomery.
• The Selma Civil Rights March started in Prattville across the Edmund Pettis Bridge which was named for one of my relatives. Also Prattville was named for a great-uncle.
• The bus shed at Court Square at the foot of Market Street-now Dexter Avenue in Montgomery was once a slave auction block.
• The famous command, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” was uttered during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.
• The Blue Moon Inn, the Green Lantern, and the Sahara Restaurant were popular places to eat.
• The First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, now in Cloverdale Park since 1932, began in 1829 downtown as the Court Street Methodist Church, the oldest church in Montgomery.
• Enterprise, Alabama displays the only Boll Weevil Monument that honors the role this insect played in changing Alabama crops from cotton to the peanut. Booker T. Washington explored uses of the peanut at the all black Tuskegee Institute from 1881 to his death in 1915.
These are my fun facts. If you write fiction, or non-fiction, share a Comment below and tell me something about where your book takes place. You can also follow me on Facebook where I share writing tips and inspiration for authors. Join my mailing list if you want me to give you a heads-up as soon as my novel, SWEET BYE AND BYE is for sale.