Author Torone returns home
edited: Monday, February 10, 2003
By Nell Torone
Posted: Monday, February 10, 2003
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February 7, 2003
Written by Sabina Lohr
Obscure and tragic historical events blended with romance set the tone of Nell Lagana Torone's new novel, Within Sacred Walls. The author, born and raised in Southington, has always been intrigued with the past.
As a child she spent hours hiking the hills of Mount Southington, imagining what it would feel like to wander the same wilderness a hundred years earlier.
This fascination with the past combined with a fondness for romance novels and an interest in real-life tragedy helped her to create a novel snatched up by a publisher just a few weeks after she put it in the mail.
Nell Lagana Torone will be signing and selling her book Within Sacred Walls at the Southington Public Library on Saturday, February 22 from 11:00a.m. to 1:00p.m.
After graduating from Central Connecticut State University in 1983, Nell became an accountant and worked in the insurance industry. She tolerated tax work but thrived on research. "I'd be sitting in a tax library and just loving it," she says.
She didn't stop researching once the workday ended. Her interest in history prompted her to research the past.
Once her youngest child began kindergarten, Nell decided to stay home and create literature from her research.
She found the genesis for Within Sacred WAlls by surfing the Internet to look for a tragic historical event. Once she found one that piqued the high end of her interest, she dug until she unearthed enough material to write a story around it.
In Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1834, a group of Protestant men burned a convent to the ground because of rumors surrounding a couple of runaway nuns.
Nell recreated the cast of characters, then imagined them into scenes and events, re-writing the true bit of history into Within Sacred Walls.
In her novel Nell invents a Catholic schoolgirl who commits suicide after giving birth to a baby boy. Her son returns years later as an investigative reporter working undercover as a hired hand at the convent.
He is intent on digging up the secrets that led to his mother's death. Once inside, he meets a girl named Brianna. A romance comes to light along with the long-buried secrets.
Brianna is what Nell calls a magnified version of herself, "very timid, not an out-going person," she says. "I guess that's why I write books."
Nell has authored two previous novels, and is still working on publishing both.
A ship called the Eastland docked in Chicago in 1915, waiting to take a couple of thousand people on a company picnic. As they were boarding, the ship tipped and flipped onto the side of the dock, killing over 800 people and giving Nell the idea for her first novel, Days Gone By.
Nell discovers plenty of little-known catastrophes when doing the research she loves. In order for her to select a particular event, though, "it really has to pull at me," she says.
Nell was moved by another tragedy she learned about from relatives in Boston. They told her that each Christmas season the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia gives the city of Boston a Christmas tree. When Nell asked why, they told her it was a continual thank-you for help Boston gave Halifax after a tragedy in 1917. Off the shore of Halifax two ships collided and caught fire. People on shore watched as the ships drifted toward them. Once they hit land, they exploded, killing thousands.
The turn of the century tragedy inspired, The Shieling, Nell's second novel. She visited Halifax for a week's onsite research to give her novel a more realistic and personal feel.
She is currently re-editing it to submit for publication.
In her West Suffield, Connecticut home Nell spends about six hours a day writing in her living room in front of her wood-burning stove while her three children are at school and her husband is at work.
She is beginning a fourth novel, which she believes will focus on a hidden treasure on an island off of Nova Scotia.
Nell finds that all of her novels develop differently. Her first novel she wrote scene by scene. The second just flowed onto her keyboard. She has yet to discover how her fourth novel will develop. "It depends on how I relate to the characters that I've created."
In addition to her book signing at the library, Nell will be appearing at the Enfield Barnes and Noble on March 29.