Osoyoos author tells family tree tales from the vault

The novel is based on stories told by her grandmother Polly and, as the book title states, tells the tale of a very twisted family tree.

Osoyoos author Sandy Latka is celebrating the release of her first novel

Osoyoos author Sandy Latka has a gold sovereign she wears as a reminder of her grandmother.

The coin and her grandmother are key players in her first novel, Twisted Trees, which was recently published.

“I always wear a sovereign and they have always meant a lot to me. They played such a big part in my family’s history and in this book,” said Latka.

The story of Twisted Trees unfolds in Derbyshire, England, spanning the years between 1861 to 1934. The novel is based on stories told by her grandmother Polly and, as the book title states, tells the tale of a very twisted family tree.

“One in which brothers and sisters were encouraged to marry their step-siblings as part of a devious plan to acquire land and wealth,” said Latka. “Through all sorts of adversity the one thing that remains constant was Polly’s strength and determination and her love of family.”

Latka said her great-grandfather’s wife died after the birth of her seventh child and he re-married a widow who also had seven children. While some had married and left, there was still quite a few living at home.

“The second wife engineered this request that he had for his children of a certain amount of gold sovereigns and if her children married his children they would get twice the gold sovereigns. It worked and three of the step-siblings married,” said Latka. “It is quite the story and goes through interesting, turbulent times in England.”

Latka recorded her  90-year-old grandmother recounting the family’s twisted tree. It took her back to England to research. In the process she has learned much about herself and the family.

“My grandmother was such an inspiration and had to overcome so much. I learned you can overcome an awful lot if you keep the faith and do the right thing. My grandmother also taught me strength and the importance of family,” said Latka. “I found it extremely interesting and I believe others will too.”

Latka said it was her own family that inspired her to continue writing and get Twisted Trees published. Her granddaughter Amanda Lewis is a published author of a book of poems.

“She is 25 years old and has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair and when I was working on my book she was the catalyst that started me down the road to publishing. She introduced me to Yasmin John-Thorpe and from there it went,” said Latka. “Amanda is definitely an inspiration.”

The book is typed in larger print to make it easy to read. Latka is also pursuing putting Twisted Trees on tape and has plans for more books to create a series. She is hosting a book signing on Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Hooked On Books.