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25.2.14

Where do ideas come from?

It is possible that this entire adventure began when I read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts.  My son and I were on a kick of reading narrative non-fiction, so I picked it up.  For what ever reason, I have always been fascinated by the 1920s, 30s and 40s.  I was doing a little research on my grandfather and his life in the late 20s.  I had written a few short stories, but was hitting a lot of brick walls when I looked for fact to balance the fiction.

In the meantime, my niece was diagnosed with asthma.  After a visit and seeing how tired her poor little nose was of the constant contact with paper tissue, I went looking for dainty hankies.  A dear friend offered me a few and I greedily took them.  There was just one problem, the monogram was an F, not a B.  So I decided to give the handkerchiefs a new life with a story.  As I sat down to write the story, deep in Larson's world of Germany, I began to write the story of an evacuee.  It was quite short and just explained how she would be in possession of a handkerchief with the wrong monogram, but Millie, my main character was born on those pages.

I tried to continue the work on the American Depression Era, but Millie wouldn't relent.  She is one of those needy children the Indigo Girls sing about.  And so, here I am writing her story.  This is it in a nut shell:

An unfeeling mother, Nazi bombs and youth conspire to expel Millie from her beloved London.  Remote country life brings only a string of tedious days until she discovers a British secret weapon and her own special gifts.  Combined, they bring Millie the family she never knew she needed and an end to the war.

On my trip to London, I found her house, the paths she would have walked and the city she adored.    What I found out while I was there was remarkable!  Now for the continued writing and research.

By the way, if any of you have every wondered about how Hitler rose to power or how we as Americans responded to that rise, you should check out this book.  If you have a kiddo who is interested in the topic, it is a curious look at that time, through the eyes of the newly appointed American Ambassador to Germany.  It is a hard truth, but any advanced reader 7th grade and up would be able to sort it out.

13.2.14

Back, but a bit changed

After reading fiction all of my life and making a living by leaning on my technical writing abilities, I have decided to try my hand at fiction.  I have been learning and practicing for the last year, and I have never done anything harder.  I am not sure if I will ever see my stories in print, but I am having a ball writing.  The shorts stories are growing up into a novel.  Characters I have grown to love and worry about are evolving and I am ready to share a bit of this experience.

So for now, I will be reading less and writing more.  Don't misunderstand, the reading is going to happen, but it will be more by my own design and less with my book club kids in mind.  My novel is a young adult (or maybe new adult, according to a fellow writer) historical fiction novel. I spent the last few month buried in pre-writing exercises.   This includes research and putting words on paper, or really a digital screen.  Meeting new characters has been the best part of the journey so far.  Working on the back stories so that I don't bore my reader, but can understand each person's motives has been energizing.  I often fall in love with the characters in my favorite novels.  I never imagined I would grow to know characters of my own creation so well.

But, place is kicking my _ _ _!  So I am on my way to London, to walk around Millie's home and get to know her better as I learn about her home.  I leave Saturday, facing floods of the quarter century, and I must admit I am excited.

In the mean time I would like to suggests you consider reading Elizabeth Wein's newest novel, Rose under fire.  I will warn you that it is a harsh look at humanity, but hope is always present, though at times only in whispers.  You will learn a lot about the German concentration camps.  But, you will also learn about heroism in unexpected places.  If you enjoyed Code Name Verity, you might be glad to see Maddie and Jamie again.  And, I am sure you will love Rose.