BEDFORD – Rebecca Rule grew up in New Hampshire, but still doesn’t call herself a Granite State expert.
“Fourth graders give me a run for my money,” joked the Northwood author.
For years, Rule has been writing books about the state, like a (kind of) dictionary of New Hampshire terms and phrases, and a children’s book about life in the state.
“I’m trying to capture the culture,” she said.
New Hampshire, she said, is home to a dry sense of humor and unique traditions. Her books combine stories from her experiences as well as others’.
And, she says, they’re “accurate for the most part.”
“I play fast and loose with the truth in these,” she said.
Take the time she was meeting with a group of elementary school students in Plaistow. She was talking to them about Benning Wentworth, the first colonial governor of the state, and asking what towns were named after him.
After guessing the correct two – Bennington and Wentworth – one student asked if Plaistow was named after him as well. Not skipping a beat, Rule replied that it was; Plaistow was his middle name.
“I think their teacher corrected them shortly after,” Rule said.
But one of her most recent books – “Moved and Seconded: Town Meeting in New Hampshire” – takes a historical yet humorous look at the tradition of town meetings in the state. It took three years for Rule to finish the book, spending weeks researching and collecting stories and essays.
Town meeting lends itself to humor, Rule said, with its cast of characters – like the man who starts his 20-minute speech by saying “I’ll be brief,” or the woman who sits, knitting, soaking in every detail of every warrant article – and its deeply traditional rules of procedure.
“It’s just so down to earth,” Rule said. “I love that.”
Rule also hosts writing-related shows on New Hampshire Public Television, where for 10 years she hosted the New Hampshire Author Series, which, as the name suggests, showcased local authors and their work.
Now, she’s going around to all the towns in the state to interview key characters and have them tell their stories. The show – “Our Hometown” – has already put out a few episodes, and with more than 200 towns in the state, Rule said she expects to continue working on the series well into her 100s.
“It’s called job security,” she joked.