written words survive the Storm
Senior Life Newpaper, October 2006 by Mary Brotherton
“I don’t want that thing!” was Gloria Kenmare Grant’s protest when her son-in-law presented her with a computer four years ago, after she had fallen and broken many bones on her left side. What started as a simple means of “something to do while I recuperated,” has led to Grant’s third novel publication.
Grant decided to use the computer and other means to research her father’s family as far back as 1777, but she noticed that literally nothing had been recorded about the children who lived through the War Between the States. She had always been interested in writing, history, children, and one other feature that plays a strong part in her first novel, Can You Hear Me? Miss Sarah's Civil War Journals.
After nearly two years of research, Grant decided on a publisher and together they worked to make the book one that has found its way to local bookstores and libraries. Can You Hear Me? Miss Sarah's Civil War Journals is much more than a book about a woman in a comatose state, who listens to her own childhood memories as her daughter reads them aloud. This book is Gloria Kenmare Grant’s only personal possession that survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Grant was living less than two blocks from the shore in Waveland, Mississippi when Katrina, the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane formed and started its path toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Waveland is located east of New Orleans, and suffered extensive damage, as Katrina destroyed fifteen historic districts. Of the more than one hundred pre-Civil War houses located between Waveland and Bay St. Louis, only one endured the devastation caused by the thirty-foot storm surge. These buildings, previously considered indestructible, had survived Camille, an even stronger hurricane three decades earlier; yet Katrina plowed through them during the ten-hour bombardment of the Gulf.
When it became clear that evacuation from Katrina was her only choice, Grant left the area with her granddaughter. She remembered that her family had endured the battering of Camille, losing only a few shingles, and “stayed put.” Despite official evacuation orders, Grant wondered if she had made the right decision to run from the storm. She found her fears and worries intensified with each mile as she drove to her son’s home in Indian Harbor Beach. Within a few days, she learned that there was no trace of her home.
“My son let me piddle on the computer to occupy my time,” Grant said. “Someone told me she thought I must have had a cursed life, because of all the trouble I’d been through.”
Not long after that conversation, Grant decided to call her publisher to determine the status of her manuscript, and was overjoyed to learn that her publisher had been trying to reach her in Waveland. They were ready to deliver the first copies of her first book.
“I was delighted. Something had survived the storm: something I could hold in my hands and know was mine. God has continued to bless me after the storm. I got part of my insurance money-enough to buy me another small house-here in Melbourne,” she said.
“Remembering what my friend has said, I started wondering what would happen if someone was really cursed.”
This wondering led to Grant’s second novel, Curse of Claymore Manor, which is ready to for submission to her publisher. As soon as she finishes a few minor details on her third novel, Hate Moves In will be published.
Grant had self-published a collection of old family recipes that she gave to her family members. “I lost all the original recipes in the storm, but my granddaughter had a copy of the cookbook, which helped keep the recipes alive.”
A friend has convinced her to give a third person account of her evacuation from Katrina for an Internet talk show, and Grant now boasts, “That’s not bad for a woman who didn’t even want a computer four years ago.”
She is currently working with area libraries and bookstores to establish book signings and discussions of her work.
Email her at Glory1940 @hotmail.com or call 321-259-6229 to order a copy of one of her books, if you can’t find it at your local book seller.