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Photo courtesy of Heather Skaggs.
One of Skaggs’ favorite photo finds in her latest book for Arcadia Publishing was this early shot of William H. Hoover.
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Hoover history book 2014
As soon as she held those first complimentary copies of her first book, Bluff Park, Heather Skaggs knew she’d gotten the writer’s bug. Already an accomplished curator of historical and community news (Robin Schultz along with Skaggs are the talent behind the highly trafficked bluffparkal.org), she knew she wanted to pursue an additional title for Arcadia Publishing.
“The idea for this originated in 2012 when I first began talking with Arcadia,” said Skaggs. “They were asking me to do a Bluff Park section of the overall project, but there was such rich history with that area that it ended up becoming its own title.”
To date, Bluff Park has sold more than 3,000 copies. Given the book’s popularity, Arcadia returned to Skaggs asking her to revisit the idea of a title devoted to the larger city of Hoover.
Skaggs said that her biggest challenge was to pare down Hoover’s abundant history to meet Arcadia’s standards for the Images of America series, which limits content to no more than 128 pages.
“I had to get really creative in my approach to encompassing as much Hoover history as I could, with so much more material,” said Skaggs. “I ended up selecting a theme of ‘first’ within the communities of Bluff Park, Shades Mountain, Green Valley, Patton Chapel and Rocky Ridge.”
During her research, which took Skaggs the better part of a year, she discovered all manner of historical gems, including the occasional error.
“A big find of mine turned out to be a mistake on the historical plaque at Rocky Ridge School,” she said. “The first teacher’s name is spelled wrong.”
During that time, Skaggs pored over scrapbooks from various civic groups and clubs throughout the community. “In one of them, I even found a photo of my mom!”
Skaggs is quick to admit that the process is a labor of love.
“There are some tedious aspects,” she said, citing that she had to devote considerable time rescanning images to match the publisher’s standards. That said, Skaggs added that making connections with those all over the region who have ties to Hoover was one of her favorite parts of the creative process.
“It was so interesting to connect with individuals who heard about my work on the project, even people from out of state, who reached out with all kinds of images,” said Skaggs. “Those connections will likely prove fruitful for another Arcadia project I am planning — an anniversary book for Hoover’s 50th anniversary.”
In the meantime, Skaggs said she continues to take on more freelance assignments as she continues to hone her craft.
Hoover is slated for publication on October 6. To keep up with Skaggs’ schedule, including book signings or to schedule her for a speaking event, visit heatherskaggs.com, bluffparkal.org/ioa_events.htm or facebook.com/bluffparkal.org.