I love inspiration! It has the power to change lives for the better. I also love that it’s evenhanded. It happens to all of humanity: young and old; rich and poor; the 60-hour-per-week city worker and the organic farmer; employers and employees. It can happen when you’re happy or sad, busy or bored. It happens to people of every race and ethnicity, and in every region of the world. It also happens randomly. You just never know when it’ll strike. It may strike when you need it most or when you’re too busy to notice it. And it happens to you – you certainly can’t force it. It just happens. It strikes like a flash and then it’s gone. That’s why you have to pay attention to it.
Inspiration has the power to transform lives. Paying attention to WHAT inspires you, understanding WHY it’s important to you, and then taking action can lead your life in a direction you never could have imagined. That’s what happened to my dad, Paul Gersper.
My dad turned 80 years old today. Happy birthday, Dad! And he’s also about to become a first-time published novelist, at eighty! Writing a novel was not a part of his life plan, he just happened to be inspired by a few small boxes of letters he discovered as the executor of his late aunt’s estate. While he gave away, sold, or threw away her remaining possessions according to his aunt’s wishes, he felt compelled to take the boxes of letters with him as he returned home. What he discovered in those boxes inspired him to give voice to the now-departed lovers who had written them, his late aunt and uncle. Here’s my dad in his own words explaining WHAT inspired him and WHY it was so important that he pen Love Letters from the Grave.
Hi Dad. So why did you decide to take those boxes with you?
Well, when I discovered the letters what I noticed first is they were definitely old, and written on all kinds of random paper (factory invoices, time cards, scrap paper, etc.), folded very neatly, and obviously important to my aunt… So I read a few of them and was so intrigued I knew I needed to read more but there were too many to read right then… there were about 4 shoe box-sized boxes… so I decided to take them home with me and read them all…
How many letters were there?
About 130 letters… I read them all over two or three months, and I was just entranced… I discovered they wrote these letters when they were each in their early forties, and were both happily married at the time – to other people! And yet, they wrote all these amazing love letters to each other… So then I decided to read them all again…
What was in the letters that was so important that you decided to make them the basis for your first novel?
Well, I knew my uncle had been given a life sentence when he was a 15-year-old boy for driving a get-away car in one of the deadliest bank robberies in the midwest… And now I was reading love letters he had written as a happily married man to another woman… So, as I was reading the letters I started thinking about the two lovers’ story, their lives before they met each other, and their life after they married each other. I just figured that this was such a tender love story that it had to be shared. They lived such an inspired life and they loved each other intensely for the whole of the time they were together. I felt moved to write their story as an example, to inspire others.
How long did it take to write?
It took between four and five years from when I first read the letters. First I transcribed all the letters exactly as they were written, then I did some detailed research in order to learn about their lives by interviewing everyone I could find who knew something about them. After that I became really inspired to write their story, which I first wrote as a biography. Then I re-wrote it as a novel and now I am embarking on the process of getting it edited and published, hopefully before year’s end…
What are your hopes for the book?
I hope it sells well because I want lots of people to read it. My aunt and uncle lived a life that is a personal inspiration to me and can be a great inspiration to others, especially to young people. Their lives show us that it’s possible for two people to love each other, deeply and tenderly, for their entire lives.
There are three main themes in the book that I believe are important for readers. First, that personal redemption is possible. My uncle served twenty years in prison and then went on to create a most exemplary life. Second is the value of personal responsibility that our culture fostered in people in the early 1900’s. I think more of that is needed in our modern world. And the third theme is the importance of living lightly on our earth. These themes were all deeply engrained in my aunt and uncle’s life, and are all weaved into a most beautiful love story that I hope will impact the lives of everyone who reads it.
I was just so inspired writing their story, and I’m still inspired by it today. Now, as I near the end of the process, I’m very much looking forward to sharing their inspiration with others!
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