Monday, June 25, 2012

Write What You Read

It is pretty much accepted that writers write what they read.

I was a voracious reader from the moment I learned to read. I don't know if I was a chubby little girl because I read or if I was a chubby little girl and therefore, in the loneliness of the rejection by my classmates and my own self-consciousness, I read. Whatever was the cause, by the time I was twelve, my mother was letting me read whatever came through her Book of the Month Club. That summer I read every book in her library (a room with every wall covered floor to ceiling with books, except for the two windows and three doors in the room). That was my favorite room in the house.
That Christmas I asked for Peyton Place, Lady Chatterley's Lover and Spoon River Anthology. Quite an odd selection for a twelve year old. I finished Peyton Place Christmas day. Where I had ever heard of Lady Chatterley's Lover I really cannot remember! But I read it. Under the covers. With a flashlight! I still remember the vivid imagery in that novel. D. H. Lawrence was a gifted writer so while the content might not have been the most appropriate for a twelve year old, the exposure to a writer with such a vivid style was probably a good example for a budding author. I had been exposed to Spoon River Anthology in school and loved it! Each tombstone told the story of the individual there interred.

Perhaps that selection of books was prophetic. The type of books I now write tell the story of an individual (Spoon River Anthology) with an interesting love story (Lady Chatterley's Lover) interacting in a community (Peyton Place).

I now write historical fiction set in an environment that creates conflict through which I build the story around characters who, like all of the rest of us, are motivated by one of the strongest of all human urges, the need to love and be loved. That is what separates historical fiction from nonfiction -- introducing and developing characters with whom the reader can develop empathy.

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