Local author Jan Shinpaugh is stepping outside the box with her new book titled “Mary Margaret Mellon,” whose life during the 1940s was anything but uneventful.
“The idea for this book started with just a name and that was it,” said Shinpaugh. “Actually, I was walking across my living room when it hit. In some cases, the book writes itself and the characters write themselves. That describes this book. I knew I had to write whatever was pushing me to be written and it consumed my life for four months.”
The book begins in the latter months of 1941 when Mary, the naive and feisty teenage daughter of share croppers, loses both her parents in a very short span and makes the fateful decision to relocate from her small town to a big city for a new life. After moving, she meets relatives she didn’t know she had and characters such as Theodore Baer, Mr. Johnny Boy Jones, Uncle Moses, Miss Ava and Miss Adna.
The fresh start also brought with it experiences with racism, sexual harassment, Klu Klux Klan, World War ll, spies, espionage, arson, romance, and murder.
Shinpaugh says the book has everything, including a cornbread skillet Mary uses when she discovers the murderer.
“This book has got everything but the kitchen sink in it,” she said. “I decided I needed to make a series. Book two will be the home front action. Book three is set about 10 days before D-Day, June 6, 1944. I’m still doing research.”
Shinpaugh has written several books, including “Better Late ‘N Never,” “Madder ‘N a Wet Hen,” “Crazier ‘N a Bessie Bug,” “Deader ‘N a Doornail,” and “When Pigs Fly.” She has also written several plays and is a children’s book author with the adventures of Cat Girl and Squeaky Mouse in a series of five books.
All the works by Shinpaugh are fiction, including “Mary Margaret Mellon.” However, because the time period was the 1940s, the book required much more research than any of the others.
“This book is a big deviation from what I normally do,” said Shinpaugh. “It required a lot of historical research into life during the 1940s, especially for the little things like soaps, radios, when USA first learned officially of the Pearl Harbor attack, grocery stores, Hershey’s chocolate, when refrigerators became familiar household appliances, etc. It was a lot of work.”
“Mary Margaret Mellon” is currently on Google’s ebooks. No time has been set for the book to be released in paperback.