Over seventeen years ago I answered my son’s challenge to me during a conversation we were having about my having reached yet another decade. He asked me if there was anything that I wished I had done that I hadn’t up to that point.
“Write a novel!”
The words seemed to pop out of my mouth on their own. Oh, I had always loved words and word pictures and the flavour and feel of words coming out of my mouth and off the ends of my fingers on my computer. And I had sat on my back porch and read the last page of Listen For The Singing by Canadian author Jean Little. My tears had fallen at the absolutely amazing story the blind Ms. Little had put out into the world. I remember wishing and wishing that I could write like that.
I had, however, never really gone any further along the road to writing seriously. I was a retired English teacher and had spent the last few years doing other creative things: taking pottery lessons until I had nowhere else to gift my creations, learning to paint in acrylics until my walls and other people’s walls were covered, and writing about thirty songs until my muse left me.
Then Kevin challenged me by putting that idea in my head. The next week my husband and I were in Hilton Head SC where I went into the local Borders store and bought a book. How to Write and Sell Your First Novel became my go to book. I did something I never did. I underlined in red ink and wrote notes in the margin. I ate up that book, loving the learning as I munched.
And then I put it down. The author got into how to sell the book and other related chapters. Like any new writer, I figured I needed to actually have a book before thinking about selling it. Well, I know different now, but at that point I put the wonderful book back on the shelf and started to write.
I created characters, gave them life, researched the American Revolutionary War, and worked out how ordinary people would be affected by that famous war. And those people became extraordinary. Little did I know I had found the theme that jumps out from every book I’ve written.
This writing journey touches my heart. I get to meet all manner of people as I go to conventions, writers’ meetings, speaking gigs and even going about my everyday life. In this world where our media seems to be obsessed with showing what is sad or shocking or heart-breaking, I have realized that I can create stories and write about people who have risen to the occasion when horrible things happen to them. I can draw characters who, like all of us, have some negative parts in their makeup but who can rise up and become the people they need–and want–to be when the circumstances warrant it.
My Loyalist books (four of them) are historical fiction so there is a mix of real and fictional people in them. My biographical books (including my anthology) are about real people who have done unbelievable things in unimaginable circumstances. And I find that, in spite of the media choice to show only the negative in most cases, people can still be amazing. And that is what keeps me going. Well, that and talking to all kinds of people as I research for the next book!