After years of writing about reality, Eden Prairie resident Ames Sheldon and author of “Eleanor’s Wars” was ready to enter the world of fiction. And after retiring two years ago, she could finally get cracking.
“I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was 9 years old,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon worked as a journalist for small newspapers, worked in publicity for various companies and became a grant writer for the Sierra Club, the University of St. Thomas and the Minnesota Historical Society. Then, after hearing the music of an operetta written by her late uncle, Sheldon was once again inspired to dive into fiction writing.
The operetta, which follows the life of a fictional student growing up in a boarding school in the 1940s, motivated Sheldon to tackle the large topic of life during World War II.
“The songs were so moving, and I loved the way they depicted the experiences of a boy trying to find his way during the war,” Sheldon said.
Then, after working with her writing coach, Sheldon decided to adapt the story for a novel, adding more characters along the way. Sheldon ended up focusing most on Eleanor, the mother. No stranger to women’s history (Sheldon helped write a women’s history reference book in 1979), Sheldon incorporated her knowledge into a story that would illustrate life during World War II.
“It’s important for people to read both fiction and non-fiction books about that war and others in order for us to get a sense of what it was like to live through that time,” Sheldon said.
The novel follows the life of a woman who struggles to fight the war on the homefront while long-buried memories rooted in her service driving an ambulance in France during World War I come to light, threatening her marriage and the security of her children. Her husband leaves for the front line, and her children wrestle with shocking revelations as they grow into adulthood, according to a press release.
Sheldon said one of the most difficult aspects of writing the book was finding and securing a publisher.
“It was heartbreaking to find that a publishing group didn’t want to go through with the book,” Sheldon said.
So, the author took matters into her own hands and reached out to independent publisher Beaver’s Pond Press in Edina.
The novel was released Nov. 16 and can be ordered online through Itasca Books. Sheldon will also read from the book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Open Book, 1011 S. Washington Ave. in Minneapolis, and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, at Excelsior Bay Books, 36 Water St. in Excelsior.
Contact Michelle Doeden at [email protected]