Synkroniciti is proud to introduce the winner of our “Ritual” short story contest, “Grace” by Jamie McArdle. The contest was extremely competitive–we are currently hoping to include several of these stories in the March 1st issue–and “Grace,” the first published work by an extremely talented writer, stole our hearts. The characters are so well fleshed out and human that you will finish wanting more about this new American family. Basing her stories on 19th-century census entries describing her ancestors, McArdle imagines what it meant to be a first-generation American and a republican patriot at that time. Prejudice has always existed, but there is also something tremendously exciting about transcending that prejudice to become better people.
“Grace is based on a discovery I made while researching my ancestry in Door County, WI. My family, some of whom still live in Door County today, and draws primarily from French Canada (one branch has been on the North American continent since 1610), Ireland, and Norway. In one mid-19th-century census, one household included a husband, wife, several children in a range of ages up to about 20, and a man, newly arrived in the United States, termed “laborer.” In the next census, that laborer was now a head of household, a citizen, and married to one of the daughters of the house.
My hope with this story was to explore the rhythms of 19th-century farming, the sense of not just geographic but also social place that had been the norm for most societies for most of human history, and one of the ways in which the American project could – and apparently in my own family actually did – disrupt that norm. I bookend the story with two references to a Catholic table grace, originating in two cultures different in history, economic advantage, and social status but sharing a common faith lineage.”
Jamie McArdle, native of Wisconsin, resident of Katy, TX, for the past six years, learned early that stories were the real thing; the world perceptible had nothing on the world envisioned. She began writing in childhood, composing songs and what she did not know were essays, moving on to what no one knew would one day be called “fanfic” about her favorite book characters, then original short stories in genres from science fiction to historical fiction to romance – and has never stopped. Only in recent years has she forayed into novels, with the unflagging support of her husband and three grown children. “Grace” is her first published work, but she hopes not her last.
Congratulations, Jamie! We feel confident that this will not be your last published piece. Bravo!