Writing a novel is an interesting experience, and I am learning that not all readers are wired the same. Just as each author has a unique story to tell that only he or she can tell, each reader is different and will react to a story and its characters based on their own personal tastes and preferences and their life experiences.
I think to fully appreciate my stories you have to have a sense of fantasy and be willing to travel along with my heroines into the past. The readers I find who can do this are highly imaginative and intuitive. They are willing to suspend their disbelief and easily allow themselves to be drawn into an alternative time reality. Then there are those readers who prefer and are more comfortable with straightforward story-line that follows a clear-cut linear path or a story firmly rooted in the present.
To me the past influences the present. It continues to echo and remind us of past mistakes and things we need to remember. Learning about a historical figure, I genuinely believe can still cause a ripple effect that can even mold and shape the present.
One reader wrote: “I wonder why Nora’s friends worry about her when her thoughts drift off, and she thinks about the past? Don’t they find her a bit anti-social?” I laughed when I read that. Well, don’t we all lose ourselves in our own thought processes? Personally, I think it is a perfectly lovely way to spend one’s time imagining conversations that might have occurred in the past. Besides, I think it is a far better pastime than looking at a cell phone and checking a social media feed. Friends should be more concerned about that kind of anti-social and uncreative behavior don’t you think? I for one, readily channel the voices of the past…it is the reason, after all, that I write fiction!
Following this theme of how I structure the time elements
in my books a “Waking Isabella” reader asks:
This book starts in the distant past, then continues in the future with flashbacks occurring occasionally. How hard was it to keep track of the parallel history lines and to blend them smoothly into one story?
I love getting questions like this! Here is my response.
I like to incorporate scenes from the past because it is what fascinates me the most about fiction writing. I love to get inside the head and the thought processes of my historical characters to paint a picture of their lives through their thoughts, words, and actions. For me, that is what fiction writing is all about.
The historical characters are important, but at the same time so are the modern protagonists. It is just as interesting to me to contrast the past with the present. In so doing I hope to create a dichotomy and a tension to demonstrate how things are today with how they were in the past. It is a fascinating glimpse into how far we have come and yet again, a reminder of how far we still need to go.
So, since my stories take place in a contemporary setting, it is necessary to create a means for my modern-day heroines to “channel” these historical characters. In my first novel “Dreaming Sophia” I used Sophia’s daydreams as a means for her to dip back in time and visit with characters from a different period. In “Waking Isabella,” I use the fact that Nora is an empath and very sensitive to the feelings of others as the vehicle through which she can channel thoughts and feelings not only of those around her, but also the energy of personalities from previous eras.
In “Waking Isabella” it was especially important that readers get to know Isabella’s character personally, so that they would have a greater appreciation for the story or her missing painting in the twentieth-century and why it was important for Nora to find it and bring her back to life. It was also necessary to develop Margherita’s character and her storyline as it was essential to understanding how and why the painting went missing in the first place.
For me, it wasn’t hard to jump back in time and let the voices of Margherita and Isabella chime in throughout the book. As I wrote, I could well imagine what they had to say! In fact, I had the most fun writing the scenes that take place in the fifteenth century and those that took place in the 1940s during WWII.
If you are the kind of reader who enjoys the romance of previous eras and wonders what it must have been like to live in a different period in history, I write for you. You are my people!
Thank you to all those who travel with me in my novels and however, you may be wired – I hope you learn a little something from Isabella, Margherita, and Nora!