I grew up in the small town of Painted Post, New York, a suburb of Corning, and actually our house was in Riverside between the two. We didn’t have a swimming pool but went to the local park pool and every summer my parents took us to Wellsboro beach in Pennsylvania. When I started to write Breadline Blue, I wanted to place him in the Appalachian region but not too far south because I wanted to be somewhat familiar with the territory. I chose the Wellsboro area as his birthplace and childhood home to fit my needs and also for personal nostalgia.

Now, I’m no spring chicken but I can walk four miles inside the local mall in under an hour, so I figured Blue could do that too. His home is a small farm about four miles outside town. His family owns a truck, of course, but as with my during the Depression, he and is father put it up on blocks and the family walks to church, and into town when they need anything. They grow most of what they need on their farm. They have a cow and a few chickens, trading eggs and chores for what they can’t buy.

I’ll be telling you more of their back-story and more about the book (no spoilers) in the days and weeks ahead. For now, I wanted to break my exciting news. Blue is going home! That’s right. From My Shelf Bookstore in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania is hosting us for a book event. And we’re really excited! It will be Friday, September 4 at 6pm. Our theme is all about Hobos and people are invited to dress down to the part.

FYI: The slang for the Hobo was “Bo.” A Hobo is someone who travels from place to place, not staying anywhere for long. He is homeless or has a wanderlust. A tramp is considered less than a hobo, unscrupulous, a cheat and often a criminal. Never call a bo a tramp unless you want a fight.
The idea for Breadline Blue came from when I sang with a band that did music from the Great Depression, The Blue Eagle String Band. I always wanted to sing with a band! One day, I saw an ad in the paper that they were looking for a female singing. I auditioned with "You are my Sunshine" and got the gig. 

There were three of us, two men and myself. One of the guys played guitar and banjo, the other played guitar and mandolin. My fiddling wasn't good enough, or at least my confidence wasn't. I tried autoharp but I guess they didn't think that was so good. But I think I sang pretty good. We had a radio spot with WXRL and when we heard it played back, I did sound a lot like Rose Carter.

I convinced the guys to get dressed up and so did I. We looked and sounded the part. We played often at a local cafe. The whole idea was that was practice because the program was intended to be a historical presentation for schools and museums. 

Anybody who has ever been in a band knows the whole band culture, and even though small and educational, stuff happens. I wasn't really privy to the "stuff," and just got notified that we weren't a group anymore. I was saddened by that, but enriched by the experience.

One of the tunes we played was titled Breadline Blues. The subject matter, other than being from the period, had nothing to do with my book, but I loved the title. I talked at length with our group leader who didn't think I could pull off the delicate issues of a young person riding the rails. He read the book and disagreed with himself. I DID pull it off, and with his blessing. For all the difficulties a band can have, he was well studied on the subject. 

I learned a lot about the time period from the songs, from the band, and from my own research, too. It's a very important part of American history and my hope is Breadline Blue will inspire young people to know more about it. Did you know: At least 500,000 youth were homeless and on the road? That's relevant.  
Mistakes happen. But when you are writing historical works, readers expect you to have done your homework. They trust you and they trust your facts. Nevertheless, authors are not mystical oracles--all knowing and all seeing. A responsible author will do everything in her power to make sure readers get the correct information, but mistakes do happen. It is so heartwarming when readers bring these to the author's attention without bad-mouthing the writer. Alas, for all my hard work and diligence, I too sometimes get it wrong. A reader recently contacted me to inform me of some facts gone awry in Native American and Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York. Two of the cited facts are still being checked by me, so I won't put them here, but one mistake was so glaring and so important to me that you know the correct information, I do want to share it. Chief Skenandoa was a great Iroquois leader and should be known by everyone for his work. But I said he is buried in Hamilton. You won't find him there because I was wrong. He is buried at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. An easy mistake as you can see, but a biggie. I apologize and hope you can now find him where he rests in the grave beside his good friend Kirkland.