Ohio’s Greatest Natural Disaster Inspires My Story–Surprised by Love

by Sandra Merville Hart

A school event for my daughter took us to Troy, Ohio. The quaint city captivated me from the first visit. It felt like something ought to happen there—and that was before I was writing!

A few years later, an opportunity arose to join fellow Ohio authors in a novella collection set in Ohio locations. My mind raced back to Troy. What could I write about? My husband and I drove there on a mission of discovery.

At the Museum of Troy History I learned about a terrible flood in 1913 that displaced many Troy citizens and even claimed lives of a few. The way the townspeople rallied together to meet the tragedy inspired me and led to the writing of this story.

We walked around the town square, visiting shops. Around About Books is a treasure. I’ve since participated in booksigning events there so this has become a special place to me.

We ate at a lovely diner, K’s Hamburger Shop, a place that has been on Troy’s Main Street since 1935. My story is set in 1913 so it wasn’t there during the flood, but the whole place gave me a feeling of historic nostalgia.

My imagination soared from my research. The first draft of the novella, Surprised by Love, was written in two weeks! That remains the record for me.

Researching The Flood of 1913—Ohio’s greatest natural disaster—and personal visits to Troy inspired this story of love and courage.

I hope you will read this story and all the others set in Ohio locations in “From the Lake to the River. Here’s a blurb for my historical romance, Surprised by Love:

Lottie’s feelings for an old school crush blossom again during the worst flood her town has endured in years.

Lottie shoulders the burden for her siblings after their mother’s death. Her seventeen-year-old brother’s disobedience troubles her, especially since she also cares for the boarders in their home. When the flooding river invades not only the town of Troy but also her home, Lottie and her family need to be rescued.

Desperate circumstances throw Lottie and Joe, her schoolgirl crush, together. Can tragedy unite the couple to make her long-buried dream of winning his love come true?