Monday, November 22, 2021

Memories—and Books—Are Made of This

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

Cloudy Fall days call to me with a nostalgic song of … what? I hadn't stopped to examine why I love them so much. But this morning, as I set out to run an errand, that feeling of well-being and happiness overtook me. Today I realized why. 

It takes me back to my childhood.

I was, as most writers are in their youth, an avid reader. My mother had been a teacher, so at a very early age, she taught me to read long before most children. By first grade, I read at a fifth grade level, and I read every book I could get my hands on.

We moved right after my tenth birthday, and I discovered the world of the public library. That's where I found my first Trixie Belden mystery. As a tomboy, I identified with Trixie. When we moved, I left my lifelong best friend and there weren't any children in our neighborhood. Trixie and Honey became my friends.

Maybe the cloudy Autumn days call to me because of those books. The woods stood between Trixie and her brothers' house and that of their best friends, Honey and Jim. Most of the stories took place, it seemed, in Autumn when leaves fell to cover the path they walked, adding a crackling crunch to their footsteps. Smoke curling from a chimney perfuming the air. Hot apple cider to warm them when they came inside.

Those books left an impact that remains with me decades later. And that's what we as writers want to create in our books. That's why incorporating the five senses into our writing is so important. We all have a unique range of senses. Our sense organs take in the stimuli and a mental image or reaction results. 

As a ten-year-old, I wanted to solve mysteries like Trixie and her friends. I never found any good ones, so I lived vicariously through those books. And even now, a crisp cloudy day harkens me back to those times.

What sense evokes memories in you? Is it an aroma? A sound? What are some of the memories you recall? 


Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw Mary Martin in PETER PAN, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. Years later, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and The Write Conversation.


  1. All of the above Ms. Ane. Happy Thanksgiving this week my writerly friend.

  2. Wonderful post! My memories of autumn also bring feelings of joy and happiness. As a child, I always went with my dad to distribute Thanksgiving baskets to the "widow women" and "shut-ins" in the neighborhood. When we arrived back home, we were greeted with the aromas of turkey and dressing and all the trimmings as my mom was preparing the Thanksgiving meal. Thanks for the memories! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. What a sweet memory, Edwina. I can picture you helping your dad.

  3. Great post - certainly brought back fond memories. Thanks for writing it.

  4. I loved the Nancy Drew books. I could devour one in an afternoon. We had a small library in our town that was directly behind my house. I could walk there by myself and I was there every day. Thanks for bringing back these memories.

  5. Thank you for your post, dear Ane. I am reminded of Marcel Proust's novel, Remembrance of Things Past, in which a madeleine transports him back to his childhood as well. A particular sensory memory that draws me back to my past is the aroma of vanilla cake baking in my aunt's oven. She used to make it from scratch, and I got to enjoy it together with my cousins during my summer visits to their home.