SIDNEY — For the second year in a row, the Shakespeare Book Club hosted a Christmas luncheon for local literary fans in the Community Room of the Amos Memorial Public Library.
This year’s luncheon was held on Friday, Dec. 7, and was catered by The Spot.
The event featured author and Dayton Daily News columnist Sharon Short, of Dayton. Short spoke briefly about her book, “My One Square Inch of Alaska,” giving attendees, most of whom had themselves read the book, snippets and details of the story and how it came to fruition.
“I had finished up a humorous mystery series and I played with a little of this, a little of that, and I just couldn’t find the right idea,” she said. “I had set aside scraps of ideas; 50 pages here, 20 pages there, almost to the point of thinking, ‘I must be done; nothing is working.’
Short said it was at a book club meeting where she inadvertently stumbled upon the idea for the novel.
“I don’t remember much about the book we were reading, or about the meeting,” she said. “Except that I heard someone say, ‘Hey, does anybody remember those deeds you used to get to one square inch of Alaska?’ I was riveted by the phrase, ‘one square inch of Alaska.”
It seems this unidentified book club attendee was referring to the Klondike Big Inch Land marketing promotion run by the Quaker Oats Company in 1955, during which the company bought 19.11 acres of land in the Yukon Territory of Canada and printed 21 million deeds for each square inch of land.
The promotion was linked to the Sergeant Preston of the Yukon radio show, which Quaker Oats sponsored at the time, and prompted people to mail a form, along with a box top from a Quaker Oats cereal box, to the company in exchange for a deed.
The imagery-inducing phrase made such an impact on Short that the book’s subject began to take shape virtually as soon as she heard it.
“These shadowy characters just began to show in my head,” she said. “They were not very well-defined, at all; they were like silhouettes, but I could hear this voice telling me, ‘When are you going to tell the story of our one square inch of Alaska?’”
Short said it was then that she knew she would commit herself to years of writing the novel, and she did. “My One Square Inch of Alaska” was released in 2013.
The novel is not Short’s first, nor will it be her last. She has had 11 published, and self-published a compilation of her columns from DDN. Next year, “The Widows” will hit shelves, and yet another book is already in the works.
Short said she has enjoyed literature from a young age.
“I’ve been writing since I was a little girl,” she said. “I’m one of those people. I’ve always known this is what I want to do.”
To learn more about Short, who also writes under the pen name Jess Montgomery, visit jess montgomeryauthor.com.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.