Many of the characters in my book, Daughters of Deliverance are real. They are not famous, but people who played a part in a true story. As I did the research I dug around to find more details, but often I had very little facts to bring these people alive in the book. That’s when the fictional side of the story breaks in — the fun part when my imagination takes over.
If you read my book, Daughters of Deliverance-, you’ll remember Ella Gilchrist, the young missionary doctor who came down with tuberculosis in China. I found her mentioned in a few articles about Katharine Bushnell’s early life in China and when Kate accompanied Ella home where she eventually died of TB.
Of course, as I wrote about her illness, the difficult sea voyage and train ride across America to Denver. Ella grew to be a real person in my mind. I could see her perspiring under the mosquito net at Kuikiang mission, and shivering with fever on the uncomfortable train journey. Never complaining, always wanting to serve Jesus, apologizing to cause Kate more work. But she only lived in my imagination until a week ago when I received an email from my friend Mimi.
Mim encouraged her friend Karen to read Daughters of Deliverance — and there Karen discovered that her great-great aunt, Ella Gilchreist (CORRECT SPELLING !) worked with Dr Bushnell at the Methodist Mission in Kuikiang, China. Of course, Karen had never met her Great-great Aunt Ella, but she’d heard stories about her — and, SHE HAD A PICTURE.
I finally got to meet Dr. Ella– and she looked amazingly like the image I carried in my mind. If you haven’t read Daughters of Deliverance yet, keep this picture and when you meet Ella in the story, bring it out. Do you think my Ella in the book matches her picture?