I WRITE HISTORY BECAUSE I AM HISTORY
I've always loved history, and not in a particularly sterile or scholarly way. When I was a child, I could tell you as much about Tutankhamun's family as I could my own—and once I fell in love with the legacy of a world swallowed by time, I started making connections. It wasn't enough to know the facts—that Tutankhamun lived in the 18th Dynasty, the 1330s BC wasn't enough. I wanted to put him in context.
What did he see when he stepped onto his porch? What was happening around him? The pyramids were already 1100 years old by the time Tutankhamun set eyes on them. They were as ancient to him as the construction of Reims Cathedral is to us. While Tutankhamun ruled over all of Egypt, a family buried a young woman in Egtved, Denmark. They interred her with with a blanket, and a spray of yarrow flowers.
The Myceneans are concentrating their power against invasions of people we will eventually call the first three Greek waves. In what will become Mexico, the Olmecs have started carving giant stone heads. At the same time, men and women are building earthwork mounds and establishing city complexes along the Mississippi River. At the same time, Shang Dynasty astronomers in China were mapping the stars, and writing down the earliest scientific observances of comets and the planet Mars.
These people all breathed the same air, saw the same sky, they lived and walked on the same day. That's what history is. It's not the dates or the timeline or the dull order of things—it's seeing into the lives of people who are just like us, who came before us. It's understanding our place in the march of time and realizing that one day, we'll be someone else's history.
The ancient Egyptians believed that you could only be destroyed if your name is forgotten. And so I write books—about the present, about the past—about a girl who can see the future from Baltimore 1889, in the hopes that my name will be remembered. If I'm very, very lucky, one day I'll be part of the tapestry of an ancient world that to me, at this moment, is the modern day.
If you're very, very lucky, you'll be remembered there, too.
Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture-deliverer and a layout waxer. She's dodged trains, endured basic training, and hitchhiked from Montana to California. She teaches herself languages, raises children, and makes paper for fun. She's also a screenwriter and executive producer for Fresh Films and the author of Shadowed Summer and the forthcoming The Vespertine and The Springsweet. She always picks truth; dares are too easy.
Thanks so much, Saundra!
I also have some awesome The Vespertine bookmarks to giveaway to one lucky commenter!