Some people are more prone to be reflective and introspective than others.
Does one look back because one is a historian at heart or does one eventually become a historian because one looks back?
Impossible to say.
I only know I’ve always been keenly aware of those who’ve gone before me and to whom I owe a great debt: from the founders and propagators of my faith to the founders and patriots of my country, my own ancestors, scientists, composers, reformers, philosophers, laborers, explorers, theologians, inventors, educators, artists, musicians, and yes, authors.
I have long stated and still assert, “Charles Dickens is the greatest novelist who ever lived.” I have patterned my work after his “formula” as well as I could. My conclusion is unreservedly Dickensian. The final paragraphs of my favorite book, Nicholas Nickleby, resonated through my mind as I wrote. You’ll also find homage to him in two chapter titles, as well as Agnes’ reference to “A Christmas Carol” and the Charles Dickens print she plans to hang in her office.
Those who’ve never read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine may not recognize my attempt to recreate the atmosphere (both literal and familial) of Douglas Spalding’s boarding house.
I trust my affinity for libraries, which finds expression in William Saroyan’s marvelous chapter, “At the Public Library” in The Human Comedy, is apparent. There is a library in every segment of Agnes’ life—at Stanton-Giles University, at Brighton Park Community College and the local library in Dennisonville, North Carolina. All three librarians (and their assistants) provide timely assistance of crucial importance to Agnes.
There may very well be any number of phrases I’ve remembered and penned, the origin of which is so distant I could not possibly cite the place (most likely an old movie) I first heard the words.