Last weekend, Clif and I took our books to a big craft fair in Gorham, over an hour from where we live. Neither Clif and I are morning people, and we had to get up at God-awful-o’clock in the morning to go to Gorham and set up before the show opened. This we did, with only a bit of fuss. After all, Clif and I are no longer spring chickens. Even with a cart, lugging boxes of boxes, the table, and chairs is a lot of work for us.
But how worthwhile it was. Not only did we sell quite a few books, but I also met a customer—a woman about my age—whose story tickled me silly.
Coming over to the table, she smiled at me. “I want to buy the first book in the series.”
“Great” I replied.
“It’s for a girl named Maya.”
“And I’m her mémère.”
Delighted and nearly speechless, I stared at the woman. Now, I have had many grandmothers buy books for their granddaughters, and there have even been a few named Maya, but as far as I know, not one of the grandmothers went by the Franco-American term mémère.
A brief backstory for readers unfamiliar with my Great Library Series. Maya, as the title of the first book suggests, is the main character in the series. When Maya and the Book of Everything opens, Maya is traveling by train from New York to Maine to spend the summer with her mémère. (On that train, Maya gains possession of the mysterious Book of Everything.) Mémère becomes an important character in the series, and in Library Lost you might even say that she kicks butt.
Naturally, I related all this to the woman, and she was as delighted as I was. Unfortunately, in Maine—where at least 30% of the population are descendants of French Canadians—very few novels feature Franco-Americans who have mémères and pépères. To say Franco-Americans are underrepresented in Maine culture doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.
Although my books are fantasies, they are also rooted in reality, and it was important for me to bring my Franco-American heritage into the stories.
In my upcoming book, Of Time and Magic, Maya’s mémère continues to play a big role in the story. The series begins with her and ends with her.
It might even be fair to state that the Great Library books are a love letter to mémères everywhere.