By LAURA FREEMAN / Reporter
Posted Aug 16, 2017 at 10:45 AM
HUDSON — What if you wrote about a gangster’s moll in a non-fiction historical novel and a descendant of the woman called you?
What if the caller lived in the house behind you?
Award winning non-fiction author Jane Ann Turzillo, of Akron, had just such an experience. She will be the first speaker in the “Writing to Publish” series returning this year to the Hudson Library and Historical Society, discussing research for writers Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.
In Turzillo’s “Wicked Women of Northeast Ohio,” a woman named Akron Mary is a gangster’s girlfriend who likes having a good time.
“The book was out two weeks, and the phone rang, and the man was her grandson,” Turzillo said. “He was pleased with the way I wrote about her and told me much more about her that I didn’t know.”
It turned out the connection was closer than Turzillo thought, as she discovered the man lived in the house right behind her.
“I’m always careful what I write,” Turzillo said. “In my current book, I’ve talked to their descendants so they know what’s coming.”
As one of the original owners of an Ohio weekly newspaper, Turzillo covered police and fire news and wrote a historical column. Later, she taught writing and literature at the college level.
Her book, “Unsolved Murders and Disappearances in Northeast Ohio,” was nominated for an Agatha Award and won the Ohio Professional Writers award for adult nonfiction/history. It was given an Honorable Mention from the National Federation of Press Women. “Ohio Train Disasters” also won the Ohio Professional Writers award and won top honors from the National Federation of Press Women.
Research about murders and disasters is essentially historical detective work, Turzillo said.
“I like following the facts, following the trail,” Turzillo said. “When it comes to the disasters, I like to present the human side of the story and not just the crash, burn and explosion.”
Turzillo said she will discuss the best places for research such as libraries, historical societies, county archives and other places writers may not consider.
Research is more important than ever with fake news, Turzillo said.
“If you’re writing anything that is nonfiction, you have to be sure of your facts and know what you’re writing about,” she said. “You may have to defend what you’re writing about.”
Talks like Turzillo’s are part of a series begun by local best-selling mystery author Amanda Flower, who is also the adult service librarian at the Hudson library. The series offers insights into the competitive occupation of a published writer.
Other topics in the 2017 series include “Editing Your Work” with editor Jennifer Sawyer Fisher Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.; “Social Media Platforms for Writers” with literary agent Jennifer Wills Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.; and “Writing for Children” with author Tricia Springstubb Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. Registration is required. For more information visit hudsonlibrary.org or call 330-653-6658 ext. 1010.
A writer writes, Turzillo said, especially if they want to be published. Don’t allow distractions, she said.
“You can’t dream about it,” Turzillo said. “If you only write a sentence a day, just do it. You have to be tenacious. The more you do it, the better you get at it.”