by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Ellinore Ask’s family members were keeping something hidden. Ask had written a book over the course of a few years, but the manuscript had not seen the light of day in some time. However, her family members had rediscovered it recently and, unbeknownst to Ask, published it. They wrapped the book up like a gift and prepared for a video call with Ask to finally reveal their secret and present her with the finished novel. “I think she was honestly surprised,” Ask’s daughter Karla Nelson said.
For Houston resident Ask, who will celebrate her 99th birthday this year, having “The Twists of Fate” published is another accomplishment she can add to her list. She remains surprised by the publication, but thankful for everything her family did to bring it about. The publication also brought a bit of light into her life at an assisted living facility during the pandemic. “I’m still overwhelmed by it, because even though it’s something when I first finished it I thought it’d be good to have published, some of my friends thought I should, but now, after all this time ... I hope people find it worth reading, and I hope it is worthwhile,” she said.
“The Twists of Fate” is a historical fiction novel set mostly in Athens, Greece, in 461 B.C. Characters include two friends at a military academy, a teacher for a wealthy Athenian family and a woman who finds out she was born to a different family than the one she grew up in. Several historical figures, such as Sophocles and Pericles, make appearances in the novel and interact with the fictional characters. As the characters interact, there is a common thread between them: the divine. “I guess that’s what I’d like the theme to be: God working in people’s lives,” Ask said.
Many of Ask’s family members played a role in making the book happen, and she is grateful to them. She received a book about life in ancient Greece from a family member, and the details in that book helped her write her own story that became “The Twists of Fate.” Another family member came across a copy of the manuscript of her book while moving and thought it should be published, so he let other family members know. “We thought, ‘This is too good to not do something with,’” Nelson said. Family members then spent months going through the manuscript to proofread and prepare it for publication. A family member wrote the summary on the back of the book, and Nelson tried to discreetly ask her mother questions about her life to write a biography of the author.
Ask brought together several of her passions and skills to write the book. “I always liked history, especially ancient history,” Ask said. A high school history teacher helped inspire her enthusiasm for the field. As a child, she enjoyed daydreaming; now, she lets ideas come to her at night before falling asleep. “I’ve written stories in my mind I’ve never written down,” she said. Something she does put down on paper currently is poetry. She is a reader, as well, and her ideas come from what she reads.
Years ago, Ask had the idea for the book, but she finally got the time to put pen to paper after retiring. From what she remembers, she wrote it over the course of a couple years and finished it in 2000.
“The Twists of Fate” is available on Amazon and Kindle, as well as at the Winona Public Library.