Saturday, September 8, 2012

True Confession--What Writers Do

         I have a confession to make.
         I’ve been lying for the last few months as I’ve been blogging across the internet promoting my book Wild Point Island.
         Not intentionally, of course.  But I haven’t been telling the whole truth when I’ve been asked the question--what inspired you to write this story?
         It seemed like such a simple question, and I thought I knew the answer.
         But . . . it hit me like a brick a few weeks ago--when I went back with my sisters to visit my hometown--something I hadn’t done in years--that the story I’d written and recently gotten published--had been inspired by a lot of things, and the anwer to that question that people kept asking me was more complicated than I thought. 
         It all started when I published my first book a few months ago and as part of the usual promo, I did a blog tour which meant that I was expected to either write a blog or in some cases submit to an interview.
         Now imagine the poor interviewer, ie. a person who runs the blog.  They are trying their best to promote a book they probably haven’t even had the chance to read.  So the most likely question to ask the author is . . . What inspired your story? 
         And without batting an eyelash, I’d thought about my story Wild Point Island and thought I was telling the truth when I said that the first season of True Blood, that hot HBO drama on TV, had been my main inspiration.  After all, I had a clear memory of sitting there in front of my TV, watching with my mouth open, the doomed romance between Bill Compton, the 173 year old vampire and Sookie Stackhouse, the telepathic small town half fairy waitress of Bon Temps, Louisiana, and then wanting to immediately create a romance like that--two people who seemed destined to be together but who couldn’t for obvious reasons.  
         Now that part was true, but it wasn’t the whole truth, and I didn’t realize the entire truth until I went home and stood in the once woods but now a park behind my old backyard and peeked over the fence with my four sisters.  There we were--like a bunch of peeping Toms--staring into our old backyard, noticing that the giant oak tree was gone along with the sandpile and the garden and the pool and the hedges that had once surrounded the perimeter.  Now there was only grass, surrounded by a white slatted metal fence. 
         Had I actually expected my old backyard to look the same? 
         I wanted it to.  I wanted that yard to look exactly the way it had looked the last time I’d walked through it some twenty years before. 
         The awful truth struck me then.  
         What writers do.  
         I understood more clearly why and for whom we really write.  Although we may write for a lot of reasons, we write for ourselves and use our stories to recreate the world we want to have. 
         There is a scene in Wild Point Island that I wrote six months before I pilgrimaged to my home for real.  In the scene Ella Pattenson, my heroine, returns to the island after having been banished as a child, twenty years before.  She returns to her childhood home.  And what does she find?  Everything is exactly the same as she left it.  Nothing has changed.  There isn’t even dust on the furniture.   I wrote that scene never realizing how important it would be for me to have things stay the same.  

Ella's house on Wild Point Island

         In my story Ella returns home to rescue her father from imprisonment.  She hasn’t seen him in twenty years.  She fears he’s no longer alive.  She’s obsessed with the notion of getting her family back together.
         And this is where I admit that returning to my hometown was a very bad idea.  My dad passed away years ago, and there was no way I was going to catch a glimpse of  him in any of the usual haunts.  I knew this; of course, I did.  And yet my heart quickened everytime I glanced at those spots where he had once occupied space.               
         Now even the usual haunts had changed--the bakery and the church and diner.  They all played havoc with my memory.  All I had left is my memory.
         And, I guess, my writing. 
         Writing fiction is grand.  You can make it turn out anyway you want.  Ella can return home and find her childhood home exactly the way she left it.  She can find her father still alive and rescue him.  She can reunite her family.  And she can even find true love with Simon Viccars, a revenant, all in the pages of a paranormal romance. 
         So, yes, I lied when I said my book was inspired by True Blood.  It’s so much more complicated than that.  
         I wanted to set the record straight.
         If you'd like to read about how Ella rescues her father and falls in love with Simon, 
log onto and read the sample on your Kindle or you can log onto and read it on your nook.  You might enjoy this paranormal romance, which readers have been calling a real page turner.   And, please, don't think about those other things I shared--how writing the book helped me come to terms with my own life.
         It's what writers do, I suspect, all the time.  


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