One Saturday, after giant hands slashed opened the grey sky and released continuous rain, I wasn’t inspired anymore (that day) after hours of re-writes. I bundled up and took the bus to my other home—the library. I love our central library (rain or shine), a magnificent structure of eleven floors of intricate shaped glass and steel, designed by two brilliant architects, Remment Lucas “Rem” Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus.
When I need inspiration, this library’s enormous fiction section has it in spades. Its national and international selections are a reader’s dream.
To me, there isn’t anything like the feel of a book.
I know the KINDLE has but all replaced the old-fashioned enjoyment of actually holding a real book. What I will say in whole, is that as a writer, touching a book, turning its pages, bookmarking where I left off, is one of the few remaining joys and inspirations in the craft and art of the writing. When I was in England, one thing that’s true (other than the rain), there are countless independent bookstores where the Classics are given full honor.
Not meaning to get off track—back to my trip to the library—I picked up a book by one of my favorite writers, Chilean author—Isabel Allende. I’ve read many of her novels. Isabel’s first story:The House of the Spirits really opened my eyes to solid storytelling. She created a visual complex of characters, whose conflicts wove like circles eights through each word, line, and page. Isabel’s writing is like eating hot peppers and chocolate with an exquisite wine… (alcohol is sometimes needed to open the doors of creativity!). The impact of Isabel’s writing has been one of my inspirations. I found a quote of hers that nails it. “WRITE WHAT SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN.”
I think that’s what a fiction writer should aim for: Not to just merely entertain, but to light a fire in the reader, giving them something to remember long after they’ve read the last word.
I’ve gravitated to creating real characters. I feel, in powerful storytelling, there’s a thin line between reality and fiction. The tension is touchable. The challenges are clear but the solutions aren’t clear. And the lessons taught and respected are achieved after a gauntlet of obstacles. After all, fiction is just life in Technicolor.
When I was writing my last book, The Last Merry Go Round, about a fractured marriage, I drew upon my volunteer experience at several shelters for battered women. I gave Diane (the wife) very few options against Richard (the husband) who is abusive and narcissistic. Diane rationalizes her staying married to an intolerable man is because of her children. The challenges she faces like abused women do, is HOW to survive as her life snowballs downhill—“A dutiful smile passes from her face to his. Richard is who I am, and what I am is lost between the beginning and the end of his sentences.”
I wanted to show a rawness of what people are capable of when cornered and trapped. Love has died or never was there in the first place. Fear, uncertainty, lost, terror, disappointment, forgiveness, violence, mistrust, deception, and redemption, all explored in The Last Merry Go Round—WRITTEN TO NOT BE FORGOTTEN.