Trana Mathews (Diane Hildebrandt), Author of The Mathews Family, Mathews Family Saga Book 1
Bobbi: Let’s jump right into your book, The Mathews Family, Mathews Family Saga Book 1. I love the fact that you write non-fiction. I enjoy reading about true life events. Just for a little clarification, to make sure I’m not reading facts into your bio… Dr. Increase Mathews was your 3rd great grandfather?
Diane: Yes, Dr. Increase Mathews was my third great-grandfather. His uncle (my fourth great-grand uncle) was Brigadier-General Rufus Putnam who is called the “Father of Ohio”. Rufus was appointed the first Surveyor General of the Northwest Territory by President George Washington. Increase’s older brother John was among the men sent by the Confederated Congress to survey the Seven Ranges then remained in the frontier.
Bobbi: I find family histories fascinating. Were there actual letters from people in your research to base characters off of?
Diane: I was very lucky because historian Samuel P. Hildreth gathered so much material. Marietta College has records for Rufus Putnam, John Mathews, and Samuel P. Hildreth within their Special Collection Department. When I perused the listing of John Mathews’s documents, I found mention of a personal letter from John to Increase. I wanted to know more, so I contacted the Special Collection Department and received transcripts of not only this one letter but several personal ones between family members! Many of these have been included in my novel and provided a lot of insight into family dynamics.
Bobbi: How did you choose your pen name? Was she a real person in your family?
Diane: There is another author with my name who writes technical reference books, so I decided to use the Mathews family surname. I wanted to use an old-fashioned first name and mentioned this to a friend. She told me her grandmother’s name was Trana, and she’d be honored if I would use it. Besides, Increase had an Aunt Thankful Mathews Josslyn who they called “Thana.” Since this was a similar name, I decided to use Trana Mathews.
Bobbi: How did you choose the perspective you were writing from?
Diane: I’m an avid reader, but I’ve never encountered a novel about what it was like for the families left on the farm when their men joined the Continental Army. Increase was less than age four when the war began. It seemed natural to me to write from Increase’s perspective. While The Mathews Family is about his entire family, it is also his coming of age story. Turbulent times continued in central Massachusetts and a battle took place in their hometown when he was just fourteen. His oldest sister Susannah, older brother John, and Uncle Rufus Putnam settled in the frontier and survived the Indian War. John was almost massacred!
Bobbi: I see this is just book 1… how many books do you envision for this project?
Diane: Three. It will be a family trilogy. The next book, Dr. Increase, begins with his 1798 journey from Massachusetts to Ohio and it is based upon a limited edition of his diary which was published for family members in 1932. The final book will be about his life in Ohio. Increase co-founded a town. The stone house he built in 1805 is now owned by the Muskingum Historical Society and is open for museum tours in the Putnam historic district of Zanesville, Ohio.
Bobbi: Thank you for submitting your story Christmas Ghost. I love the details. I actually felt cold when you described getting out of the car and getting into the house. It sounds like you wrote this story for your daughter. Did she remember the events the same way you did?
Diane: Tess said, “How could I forget? You’ve told the story so often!” so I guess she doesn’t even remember it. LOL
Bobbi: I see from your Bio that you live in Arizona now. Where did you live before that? Did you live in Indiana all your life until that point?
Diane: Yes, I lived in Northwest Indiana until I moved to Arizona after retiring. I fell in love with Arizona when I visited there in my thirties.
Bobbi: Tell us about your Blog.
Diane: Every Sunday, I like to post interviews for other self-published authors. As one myself, I understand how difficult it is to reach a new, wider audience!
Bobbi: Tell us something about Diane Hildebrandt that we couldn’t learn from reading your blog.
Diane: Since I don’t write about myself on the blog, you’ve left it wide open. Do you really want to know that much? LOL When I was fifty, I earned a degree in computer information systems, and I love to play with graphic design software. Though I’m creative, with many things I’m more of a modifier than making something new. For example, I could never come up with a new crochet pattern, but I can change an existing one into something better. Same with food recipes. By the way, I’ve been told I’m a fantastic cook. Enough?
Bobbi: Yes, that works. Thanks for sharing yourself, your time, and your writing with us.
Thanks so much for contributing to our Blog!