Our Beginnings: The Root
We thank the Frost Place for being at the right place at the right time for us to notice, because that is where the seed of the idea for this site began. (For details on that moment, visit our New Hampshire page on Robert Frost.)
After the seed was planted, the project grew to a hobby. It then evolved into a full-on quest to discover authentic literary landmarks throughout the United States. Our website concept began soon after that. Research blossomed into the public launch of our services in 2014, and continues today through our in-person visits and studies of authentic historical places nationwide.
Before 2014, we could not find any website or organization that covered as full a menu of tour-able US literary landmarks as we were sure existed. After launching Author Adventures, the field grew, giving us confidence that we were on to something special.
Since we have been at it for nearly 20 years now, we believe Author Adventures was the first to bring together one place of information about authentic US literary landmarks nationwide, as fully as our dreams led us to do. Another distinction is that all time and expense toward launching were covered 100% through its creative team.
As teachers, librarians, and students, we know that people are more likely to read a book if they know a back story on the author, something personal that makes the reading experience more real.
What happened for us was that “a-ha” moment when you instantly realize why your idea strikes many people the same way. When just trying to be good at what you do every day is not enough. Something bigger awaits. The main point, the one beyond you, shakes you to the core, driving you to take that little idea, that small piece of conversation, and make the world a better place with it.
Ideas popped up when, on vacation traveling through major cities, old battlegrounds, and small farm towns, and I observed two things:
1: The United States has a major treasure trove of forgotten wonders. Jewels from its past that you have to see, personally, for their priceless value to sink in. Homes, schools, and workplaces where ideas were born, where creativity was relied upon to put food on the table, and where smartly crafted writing changed the way the nation thought.
With so many places like this still around, why are they forgotten? Sometimes a high ticket price keeps people out. Sometimes donations aren’t enough to keep it going. And, sometimes, visitors don’t know what to look for, what makes these places so fascinating.
2: Many parts of America are not doing as well as they did. Poverty is visible, from train stations to mountain lands. Parents struggling to feed their children, adults without work, and the elderly not getting quality care. It’s getting more and more common.
We’ve seen barefooted children running in the shadows of an enormous prison, and adults of working age with nowhere to go, looking worn and hopeless. We met families whose children were up before dawn to handle the chores for traveling strangers accommodated in their homes. Ironically, many historic landmarks are within easy reach of the same grounds that produced some of America’s finest thinkers.
Author Adventures was designed to help. Awakening travelers to the heritage of US writers would not only enrich family journeys, but would benefit the small businesses near the author sites too, which would then help people who live or work in the area to keep their jobs going, set dinner on their tables, pay their house bills, and provide for their families.
All this motivated me to work hard on the site, getting up early and staying up late to fill its pages. But, since I worked two jobs and had a busy home life, it did not take me long to realize the project was too ambitious to do alone. A team needed to be built. It now includes college students, educators who contribute research, writing, and photography, and a maker of historic literary dolls.
Without the team, along with ideas from our readers, this site would never have happened.
Over the past few years, we have heard some exciting success stories, such as:
- A grandfather used it to explain to younger generations of his family the importance of an author who was their ancestor.
- Fans of an author promoted the author’s Author Adventures page to raise awareness of their fundraising campaign to save the author’s home.
- A teacher received a fellowship that enabled her to create her own national literary itinerary using Author Adventures as a guidebook.
- Parents have commended us after taking their children on some of our trails.
- A retired editor of a major newspaper donated weeks of professional research to ensure literary landmark coverage of her city.
- College students from other nations were inspired by Author Adventures to ask how they could expand the idea to their home countries.
- Our cartographer was awarded a prestigious scholarship from American University, which identified Author Adventures as one of the reasons for her award, and later offered her a full 100% scholarship to its law school.
That is our story. Hope you enjoy Author Adventures as much as we enjoy bringing it to you!