With my learn-by-doing approach to writing and maneuvering the blogosphere, I’ve seen several authors give their own take of their stories. I’ll take up some cyber-space with my own essay about my work with the sincerest of promise that I will not do this on a daily basis. A publicist advised me to become more comfortable talking out loud about my work and to keep an outline and very brief synopsis available for last-minute radio/TV interviews. I appreciate the good advice, and if I followed it, it would be even better.
As I’ve stated in radio/blog interviews, I began my creative writing journey many years ago following the death of my sister from a domestic violence incident. While I keep the details of her death private, the effect it had on my family and myself remains as I think about it every day like it just occurred. I remember coming home from working that night after midnight, and going straight to bed. The telephone rang; waking me up around 3am. I didn’t catch it but saw it was from my brother. I called him back then and he told me in a monotone voice that she was found dead in her house. All I could do was gasp, tell him thanks for letting me know, and I dropped the telephone in the bed. I stood up, walked into the bathroom and turned on the light. I saw my face in the mirror age at least five years. I had just seen her two days before when I delivered her a Christmas gift.
My husband and I went to my grandmother’s house and my family just sat together and said nothing. We sat quietly for at least an hour. As daytime approached, we began the nightmarish task of informing our friends/family and to make funeral arrangements. This part is a blur, as I felt like a robot performing assigned tasks. My voice trembled, I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t sleep. After the funeral, I repeatedly swept the floor, vacuumed the carpet, and washed dishes by hand. I didn’t even know why I was doing it; I just couldn’t stop moving. My best friend called and she could tell in my voice that something terrible happened. I returned to work immediately after, hoping it would take my mind off things. It helped some and over time normalcy returned. Time is the best remedy for such a situation and though it helps the days drag by in the beginning.
A few months after her death, I sat at our desktop computer and typed a chapter of a fantasy story. I immediately realized writing was difficult, but I liked channeling my energy into creativity to give me closure. Over the years and many throw away, start-over stories it gradually evolved into the Gastar Series. While writing it, I never thought of a character as my sister, or any other people in my life. I just thought of what I would like out of a fictional story and applied it to my writing. I’m not a writer by trade, so it was difficult and still is.
The Gastar series itself is not a self-embodiment of my family tragedy, but it is the result. The hardest part was not the writing; it was the final edit before publishing. For each of the two novellas, I felt like I was stepping off a cliff in a “leap of faith” that my foot would land on a ledge. When readers and reviewers mention the names I chose for my characters as odd, I couldn’t agree more. In seeking names, I decided to name some characters weird names, like Shevata, the lead character. I knew I wanted a feminine name that wasn’t heard everyday, and I wanted three syllables for some reason. “Gastar” to me doesn’t sound particularly imaginative and that’s what I wanted in the title; something that’s sounds like fantasy but with a conceptual subtitle. The first book, “Act of Redemption” introduces the reader to Gastar and to Shevata by laying out the steps she must take to re-gain her soul.
I never doubted that I wanted to write a dark fantasy, action/adventure series; with a flawed anti-heroine with a dark past that kicks “serious booty” (as one Tweeter stated). The main antagonist, Zermon, is based on the personality of my older brother (a family joke these days). After watching interviews of famous authors, for example, Shelby Foote on his Civil War series; he recommended new authors to read and learn from other authors. So I thought of books that I like and extrapolated their writing style (the example I use most often is Michael Crichton’s Timeline, with the breaking of scenes mid-chapter to create a page-turner). Other influences are Anne Rice, non-fiction biographies, film documentaries, and all kinds of movies. (I have migraine headaches, so when critical reviewers say that I want the reader to “see” the story; it’s actually a compliment. Headaches make reading difficult).
Authors have their own personal reasons that drive them to write. In reading many biographies of authors, sometimes tragedy throws them into the writing sphere, others write instinctively. Whatever the reason, if writing makes you the person you want to be, then go forth and write. For me, it brings me peace, closure, and joy. I hope it brings the same for other new authors.