HARRISBURG -- Local author Gradie Austin Ewell says her imagination is a wellspring of ideas.
"We can be driving down the road and see an old rundown house, and I'll say "there were seven children who grew up in that home, and later they all moved across the country when they were grown. They didn't have a lot of money, but their mother learned to knit and crochet, and every year, when they'd come home for Christmas, she had all kinds of knit items for them for Christmas presents, because she'd been working on them all year."
The example she gives is an impromptu one, and illustrates how she's inspired by old homes, unusual natural locations and other points of interests to quickly dream up stories that may one day find a home in one of her novels.
"I began writing books about 3 1/2 years ago, but I've always loved to read, ever since I learned how before first grade," Ewell, who grew up in Hardin County, spent many years in Saline County and now lives in Marion, said. "One of my jobs as a child was to clean out drawer, which were lined with newspaper. I always used to pull out the newspapers and read just about every story in them, and my mom would say I'd never get done because I was too busy reading."
Ewell said she'll be signing copies of her first two novels, "Cave in the Rock," a story set in the late 1800s around the time of the Civil War in Pennsylvania, and "Peters Creek: During World War II," which, as the title suggests, takes place during the second World War.
"The titles are inspirations from places in Hardin County, but the settings are elsewhere," Ewell said.
She said she is particularly fond of the late 1800s, likely in part because her grandparents were born during that time period.
She said a third book is in the works.
Ewell will sign her books from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Harrisburg Public Library.