December 29 – By Katina Zentz
As the soft diffused late-morning light came through the windows of his home office, Charlie Ross stood up and walked over to his bookshelf. The wooden unit contained dozens of books, all neatly lined up in delicate rows. He ran his fingers over the different covers and stopped at the title he was looking for.
It was a book on the genealogy of his family.
Ross smiled as he flipped through the pages. Ross was born in Frederick and was deeply interested in this research. He then published his findings in multiple volumes after spending 25 years studying his family genealogy.
But although Ross had researched many of his family members, a parent’s story particularly piqued his interest. The details of his life captivated Ross, and he decided to investigate further.
Based on the true story of his sixth great-grandmother, Ross, 88, has published a series of four historical fiction novels that explore the life of Tamsen Meserve Ham Tibbetts. The books “Tamsen’s Quest”, “Tamsen’s Dilemma”, “Tamsen’s Fateful Journey” and “Tamsen’s False Accusers” are part of Tamsen’s Chronicle, in that order. All novels were published in late October 2021 through Ross’s self-publishing company, Ring Gold Publishing.
The series delves into the world of Tamsen, a mother living in New Hampshire in the 1720s. Her life takes a turn when her husband is killed and two of her daughters are abducted by the Abenaki tribe, an indigenous group located in parts of northeastern North America. The series follows Tamsen’s journey to reunite with her family, as the two daughters, Rachel and Anne, must adjust to the new challenges they face.
Ross explains that Tamsen was a bold and determined woman. She faced many life changing events at a young age and continued to persevere. At 22, she was scalped, which led to her sporting her vibrant auburn hair in a combed braid, as seen on the covers of the books. Living on the open lands of New Hampshire, Tamsen was an excellent horsewoman and “sniper,” according to Ross.
“I ran through [Tamsen], and I always wanted to write fiction, “Ross said.” She was a woman ahead of her time. “
Tamsen’s story offered a gateway to a new form of writing for Ross. Although this is his first fiction series, he has decades of experience writing non-fiction and researching his books. In addition to his published volumes on his family’s genealogy, Ross’s published non-fiction books include “Computer Systems for Occupational Safety and Health Management” and “Making Wooden Puzzles”.
“I’ve always been a writer,” Ross said.
Ross used many of those same research skills while writing Tamsen’s Chronicle. He analyzed historical documents and family records to clearly understand the chronology of major events throughout the series.
And his research doesn’t stop there. In 2017, Ross ventured into the archives in Concord, New Hampshire, to uncover files relating to a court case involved in the series. The legal document, written in Old English, took more time to decipher, but Ross knew accuracy was essential and sought out a spelling guide to help him translate the document.
“The investigation is in my DNA right now, so doing research is what I always do,” he said.
} Although the chronicle is based on actual events, Ross explains that novels are classified as fiction when the speaking parts are included. After gathering the information he needed from the historical records, he then added conversations and descriptions to tie the scenes together.
This task has not always been easy. Ross had to expand his research and study the intricate details of everyday life in the 1700s. But as he continued to put more material together, Ross began to really connect with his characters. Sometimes he felt like they were almost answering him. Sometimes this would cause her writing to take an unexpected turn from her original plan.
“One character would ask another character a question, and my story would take a different direction,” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t plan that.’ It’s an interesting process. “
Ross began chronicling in 2017, after completing his genealogy books in 2015. As part of his writing process, Ross would strive to write 1,000 words per day. He started his day after breakfast and began by editing the pages that were finished the day before.
By the time he finished the book, Ross realized that the novel would reach 1,600 pages if published. He then decided to divide his writing into separate novels, each containing around 400 to 500 pages. This led to the creation of Tamsen’s Chronicle four books, all of which are available on Amazon.
Although creative fiction is different from his previous works, Ross says he really enjoyed writing this series. He was drawn to historical fiction as a “skilled investigator” and appreciates the different directions the genre can take.
“When you get into fiction, you have more freedom,” Ross said.