A-no’o-nus Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse. Hal’/lee a-me-ree-ga-tsee yem.
Hos yem.

My name is Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse. I am Armenian American.
I am here.DSC00675

It has been a while since I have posted about my Armenian book project. Happily, that is because I’ve been immersed in the edits and preparations for the publication of my fourth novel, The Eyes Have It. But thoughts and actions related to sharing a story about Armenians and their immigration to America during the genocide years under the Ottoman Turks have never been far from my mind.

My research into the early Armenian immigrants, including my grandparents, has been going slowly. As an example, I requested a copy of my grandmother’s death certificate and was told it would take 4-6 months. I know when she died, but no one, even the oldest surviving family members, knows the cause of her death at the age of fifty-five.

Since I anticipate writing this story as historical fiction rather than non-fiction, the exact cause of one character’s death isn’t essential. But it could provide some insights into her and her lifestyle.

Who, really, was Sultan?

Characters in any story must spring to life for the reader. The more I can learn about each of them, the more alive and real they will seem. What did they like to do? How did they spend their time each day? How did they interact with others, both family and non-family? How did their origin influence all of this?

How similar and different were they from other immigrants who may or may not be related? How did the immigrants from, say, Kharpoot (like my ancestors) differ from those who came from Van, or from Marash, or Adana, or Aleppo?

How did the circumstances surrounding their leaving Armenia or Turkey influence them? Their age? Before or after the worst of the massacres? Surely a woman—with or without children—who was driven on a forced march through the desert, watching the deaths of so many—including children—at the cruel hands of the Turkish soldiers, that woman, as a survivor, likely would have a different life view from one who fled the threat of massacre. One who watched family members gunned down or hung or otherwise tortured would evolve differently from someone who escaped before the worst of times.

And how did their experiences translate into how they interacted with their children, the first generation of Armenian Americans? And how did the experience of those first-generation children affect how they lived, married, and interacted with their own children?

These are the puzzle pieces I must locate and place into the bigger picture I hope to create–the tapestry woven by these Armenians and their families and friends.

Who are these people?

Early Sunday School

Bedk e meg-neem hee-ma.
Gu des-nu-veenk no-ren.

I must go now.
I’ll see you again

About Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse

I, like so many others, am a novelist struggling for recognition. My last three novels, THE EYES HAVE IT, IN HER MOTHER'S SHOES and STAR CATCHING, are available in e-book format through Amazon and other formats by request here or on my website. AUTUMN COLORS was my first novel and is still available through Amazon and B&N in multiple formats. My early writings are women's fiction, one also suitable for YA. My work-in-progress is a historical fiction about the Armenians who settled in Troy, NY in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Come visit me at my website:
This entry was posted in Armenians, family, Genocide, Grief and Loss, Immigrants, Resilience, Strength, survival and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Hi there! You are in the spotlight here I really enjoyed your article…


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