As I get closer to releasing Janet’s Yellow Butterflies, I have been reflecting on some of the literature, media and memories that inspired ideas for it.
Today’s inspiration is the memory of starting my family history journey, I can actually pinpoint the moment! When I was a child, my great aunty ran a sewing shop, and I would sometimes visit on my walk home from school. One day when I was about 10, she gave me a small album of photos of four generations of our family – my great grandparents, my grandparents, my father and aunty, and my cousin. The photos shown span from 1895 to 1974, and represent all four generations. My Pop is in all but one, as a baby (1923), a young man, a father and a grandfather.
To this day, I don’t know why my great aunty picked me to entrust these precious photos to, but I’ll be forever grateful that she did. That moment made me realise that I wanted to learn as much as I could about my ancestry.
Thanks to some very knowledgeable relatives, some family history uni studies, and a lot of trawling through online databases like Ancestry, I have compiled family history documents for both sides of my family, as well as photo boards and a 230 x 110 centimetre (90 x 43 inch) family tree. I have even traced and made contact with a descendant from an arm of the family my ancestors lost contact with over 100 years ago.
These experiences are heavily integrated into Janet’s Yellow Butterflies. Modern day characters Tahlia and Annie gradually piece together the story of Mairi, who vanished just before she was due to be executed in 1727. Their storyline is strongly influenced by my own journey and aspirations.