Kitchen designer turns novelist with ‘One of Eleven’

By Mike Shearer, The Observer June 13, 2012 02:41 pm

Terrie Biggs in her  La Grande home office, where she has written two books and is working on two more. MIKE SHEARER photo
Terrie Biggs in her La Grande home office, where she has written two books and is working on two more. MIKE SHEARER photo

Until recently, Terrie Biggs modestly hesitated to call herself a writer, much less an author. “I’m a storyteller,” she would say.

But with the publication of “One of Eleven” this month, she is now proudly using the author label. 

Biggs lives in La Grande where she runs her own kitchen design business, Kitchens by Terrie. Her husband, Dan, is retired from the Sacramento City Police Department.

She has been writing what she calls “creative non-fiction novels” for 18 years.

She starts with a real story, gathering her facts as a journalist would, and then supplements the tale with some plausible fictional dialogue.

The first book she has published through Amazon’s CreateSpace is based on the life of Gary Kopperud, who has a drafting-design company in Pendleton. Kopperud designs houses, and frequently Biggs handles the cabinets and sometimes even the kitchen design for the houses he designs. They have worked together several years.

She said she met Kopperud in 1999 and they had offices across the hall from each other until 2010. It was over coffee one day that Kopperud told her the saga of his growing up as an adopted only child.

“Out of respect for the only parents Gary had known,” Biggs said, “he waited until both of them had passed away to call the orphanage in pursuit of medical history on his biological parents.” When he began his search, not only did he discover he had a brother who was searching for him but that he had 10 siblings.

‘One of Eleven’ cover designed by Steven Gonzalez.
‘One of Eleven’ cover designed by Steven Gonzalez.
 

Life-altering experience

To go from an only child to one of 11 (hence the title) was a life-altering experience for Kopperud, as was unraveling, with the help of Biggs and his newly-found siblings, the World War II-era tale of why his parents gave him up for adoption.

“His story was so profound,” said Biggs. “He would talk to me for hours. He has a photographic memory, and he’d started writing down his genealogy from his new family. I was captivated by his whole story.”

She admitted the favorite part of Kopperud’s birth family story is the story of his birth mother’s dealing with so many children, a husband off to war, and very little money. “Something about her just grabs my heart,” Biggs said.

She said she feels the story should appeal to readers interested in genealogy, adoptions, family relationships, and issues of separation of couples during World War II.

It is set in North Dakota, Oregon and Washington.

Readers can buy the book directly at www.createspace.com/3780565 or they reach it through Biggs’s own site, designed by her son, www.novelsbyterrie.com.

From her own site, one can also read about Biggs’ other projects. Next she plans to publish “Earth, Wind & Fire,” which was actually the first book she wrote. She said it is “an intimate account of Narcissa Whitman, a young lady from New York, and her remarkable and tragic journey.”

Biggs said her youngest son initially got her interested in the Whitman Mission, which led her do a lot of research, a play, and finally the 450-page book on “the first white women to travel overland from the United States to the ‘country’ of Oregon in the mid-1800s resulting in the great migration on the Oregon Trail.”

Biggs said she wrote poems and stories as a child but had no formal training as writer, only a passion for the stories themselves.

At her website, readers can also find out about her two works-in-progress.

Currently she is doing research for her “Bali Ram” book about the famous classical dancer born in Nepal, trained in India, and currently 76 years old and living in Bend.

Her other pending book will be a compilation of her great grandfather’s Civil War letters to his new bride.