Peter Serko

Hattie’s War – A Novel

An accidental hit in the head and an overheard conversation. Who would think these two everyday events had much in common, let alone any significance? Yet, to fourteen-year-old Hattie Howell, they mean everything. 

When classmate Arthur Phelps grabs her chalkboard at school one day, Hattie forcefully yanks it back. It hits Arthur’s head with a loud thud. Hattie’s half-hearted apology the next day and a plate of cookies spark a slow, smoldering courtship between the two. Hattie is dragging her feet. She dreams of being an artist like her late father. Could she follow her dreams and be a wife and mother too? In her teenage mind, the answer is NO.

Hattie is the youngest of five children. Smart, ambitious, and a tad rebellious, she’s artistically inclined and speaks her mind, occasionally to her detriment. The problem is, that she’s obsessed with her father’s death, a father she never knew. He and his two brothers volunteered to fight in the Union Army at the outset of the Civil War. Five months later, Hattie was born. Her father never came home. His body was never identified, his final resting place unknown. Why did leave his family and her behind? Hattie needs answers. But from where? From who?

Complicating matters even further, Hattie has inherited the family curse: melancholy (depression). She calls her melancholy—Raven. Raven grabs hold of her and won’t easily let go. When she overhears the family doctor recommend Willard Insane Asylum, she panics. Desperate, she turns to her best friend Marion for help. Marion plans a secret meeting with a gypsy fortune-teller. The gypsy predicts that answers await her, but her journey will be long and hard. A life-changing 

Hattie’s War draws on a real-life story—Hattie is my Gr-Gr-Grandmother Harriet. Arthur is my Gr-Gr Grandfather. Hattie’s father, Hannibal, and mother Charlotte are my Gr-Gr-Gr Grandparents. 

 

Creating Hattie’s War

I knew the title of the book before I’d even written a word. Writing began in May 2021. In this section, I share background on the story, how it developed, and what went into writing the manuscript. I suggest reading #1- A Daughter He Never Knew first.

#11- Hannibal Howell’s Military Service 

The New York 76th Volunteer Regiment Through Gettysburg The 76th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment lost 12 officers and 161 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 1 officer and 156 enlisted men to disease during …

#10- Query, query, query…

These days getting published requires a literary agent. Few if any publishers accept submissions directly from writers unless, of course, you are someone with a track record. This means that the next task is to …

#9 – The Lady from Texas

The Hattie’s War manuscript began with a series of letters written between Hattie and her uncle Bryon.  Day one was April 11, 2020, at 3:10 pm. How do I know this? Google Docs and the …

#8 – Letters of Hannibal Howell

From the start, I dreamed of finding Hannibal’s letters.  I knew it was a long shot and had pretty much given up hope.   Besides, the letters were not something critical to Hattie’s story, at least …

#7 – Who is Hattie?

Hattie’s War is a work of historical fiction loosely based on threads of known information.  Once I decided the story should be told by Hattie I needed to figure out who exactly MY Hattie was.  …

#6 – Photos and Drawings… the gory details

The Civil War was the first war to be photo-documented, leaving us a vast collection of graphic imagery of the horrors of war. The best-known photographer of the war was Mathew Brady but there were …

#5 – Books

Fortunately, a treasure trove of materials exists ranging from memoirs to historical fiction, to academic writings dating from the time of the conflict up until today.  The massive two-volume, The Blue and the Gray; The …

#4 – Who, When, Where

It’s said that no other topic has more written about it than the American Civil War.    Every aspect of the war has been documented, dissected, debated, and written about for the last 150 years.  …

#3 – Pvt. Hannibal Howell

Long before beginning work on Hattie’s War, I spent considerable time digging for information about Hannibal Howell, my gr gr gr grandfather.  There are tidbits of information about him, but not much.  If Hannibal hadn’t …

#2 – So Many Questions

Hannibal Howell and his two younger brothers, Byron and Tappan, responded to President Lincoln’s plea in 1861 for volunteers to bolster the Union Army in the early days of the Civil War. The Howell brothers …

#1 – A Daughter He Never Knew

Hattie Howell is spitting mad; the boys in her class are making fun of her chalk drawings again. When Arthur Phelps reaches for her chalkboard, she yanks it back with all her might, accidentally hitting …

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