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Some writers dream of seeing their books on the big screen. For Connie Lapallo, the dream has come true. In September, she shared how it happened at CBW’s Literary Luncheon Meeting in Williamsburg on Wednesday September 15. Lapallo described how she came to write three novels about the women and children of Jamestown in 1608-1649. Her son, Adam Lapallo, who wrote the screenplay shared how the film based on her novel Dark Enough to See the Stars
became a finalist in the 2021 Richmond International Film Festival and recently won a second award.
As Lapallo explains, success didn’t happen overnight. “I started collecting family tree information when I was eleven years old, directly from my great-grandmother who lived with us. Her turn-of-the-century memories fascinated me. Sometimes she told older family stories that her grandmother had passed on to her.” She continues, “I began researching in earnest in 1976 for a 9th grade family tree project inspired by the Bicentennial and Roots. Thirty-five years later, I’m still at work on the assignment!”
One day, in 1994, while researching at the Library of Virginia, Lapallo noticed a familiar name. It was an ancestor, Archer Cox, who lived in Mecklenburg, Virginia, in the early 1800s. The book traced him all the way back to Jamestown. “Suddenly I had links taking me all the way back to a woman named Temperance Bailey and to her mother, Cecily (or Sisley).” Cecily was one of nearly a hundred women and children who left England for Jamestown in 1609. As Lapallo learned, eleven year-old Cecily had been a Jamestown mystery for professional genealogists for 120 years. “Who was she, and why had she come to Virginia alone?”
Cecily’s trail continued in a used bookstore in Williamsburg when Lapallo found a volume called Ancient Adventurers,
by Samuel Bemiss. In a passage recalling Jamestown’s Starving Time, Bemiss wrote, “Ann Burras, Temperance Flowerdieu and Sisley Jordan can represent all the unsung heroines of that heroic age.”
Lapallo spent eight years working on Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky,
her first novel. Her daughter Sarah designed the book cover. It took Lapallo another five years to complete the sequel, When the Moon Has No More Silver
. Since completing the third novel in her trilogy, she has begun writing a biography of Sir Thomas Gates. Learn more at Connie Lapallo's website