The Idea for This Book

I’m sometimes asked, “How did you get started writing this story?”

I was working on a totally different book – a children’s historical novel – when I stumbled across an old newspaper story in the Boston Public Library. That story, dated 1863, was an interview with a man named Thomas Palmer. His father had spent a year in jail as a result of refusing to cut his long beard. Thomas, ten years old at the time, carried food into the jailhouse, then carried his father’s letters out under the used napkins.  I left the novel I was working on and took up researching that curious beard story. I drove straight up to N. Leominster to see Palmer’s gravestone with a beard on it, and then to the local library, the history society… following all the paths that researchers took before the internet was born.


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