The Journey From Here....
I have just completed my eighth novel. The story springs from a subject that has haunted me for years: the London School explosion in rural New London, Texas, on March 18th, 1937.
The novel begins more than forty years after the incident, in 1978. The narrator, a retired teacher and poet, recalls details of the dreadful day when she lost her mother and many of her schoolmates, and barely escaped with her life. In trying to make sense of it all, she reflects not only on the tragedy itself but on the misguided actions by certain officials, cloaked in secrecy, that led to it.
She also reexamines decisions she made while struggling to put her life back together– choices that appeared foregone at the time, yet in the end further complicated the effects of the great loss she suffered; and, most regrettably, led her to squander the one great romance of her life.
As she weighs both the joys and the sorrows of the single life she ultimately forged for herself as an adult, she comes to terms with the reality that, for her, the tragedy in New London can never be overcome; only, in small but significant ways, redeemed.
Since finishing the novel, I’ve been thinking about just what it is that has driven me as a writer so far, and what I hope to achieve as I continue to write.
As is the case with most fiction writers, the reason I first aspired to write stories was that I loved to read them; so I have taken stock of what I expect to find in a novel when I sit down to read. I discover that, while my reading tastes have changed as I’ve grown older, my expectations haven’t changed appreciably over the years.
Certainly I am looking for a well-written story that introduces me to new experiences I might never encounter except in the pages of a book. I want the characters to be fully drawn and believable, and totally involving. I want the plot to be well developed and convincing; and so absorbing that when I am focused on those pages, the world outside them ceases to exist.
I hope ultimately the story will touch on themes that are universal throughout history, and thereby resonate with today’s world, no matter the period in which the story is set; and that the author will arrive at some truth that is recognizable.
By way of illustration, lately I’ve been devoting a lot of time to the study of poetry, which has fascinated me for years. I have found inspiration in the works of a variety of gifted poets, both classical and contemporary. In her enlightening and helpful guide, A POETRY HANDBOOK, poet Mary Oliver cautions against using “informational language,” words that “do not ever desire to throw two shadows.”
It strikes me that throwing two shadows is also what good fiction writing is about.
Finally, when I read a book, I hope to wind up satisfied that the end of the story has been developing, inevitably, right from page one. I don’t ask for a happy ending. I just want to feel something stir deep inside me when I read that last sentence; I want to know that I am, somehow, richer for all those hours I invested, and maybe a little wiser too.
Naturally, these expectations have always been in my mind when writing novels, whether or not I was conscious of them. So if you decide to read one of my books, I hope you will enjoy it, and come away satisfied that I lived up to the proposition.
I would like to think that, whatever I choose to write in the future, my words will throw two shadows; and inevitably my life will too.
P.S. If you would like to know a bit more about how my career as a novelist began, I invite you to click on the “Blog” tab. Thanks for your time.
-- Gazette Telegraph, Colorado Springs
-- Publishers Weekly"Imaginative gusto... feverish... seductive"
-- Harper's Bookletter
-- Library Journal