Thursday, September 29, 2016

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Where Were You When you Wrote...?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Where Were You When you Wrote...?

Last week, on the twenty-fifth annivesary of The Challenger, I read and responded to several Facebook posts of, "What were doing when the space shuttle exploded?"

Certain memories for us are so vivid we can recall their ancillary details. With The Challenger, I remember hustling three kids under four through the grocery store (Eagle, in Crest Hill), so I could watch the take-off. I remember gaping in horror at what I was really watching and holding Joshua, who was four months old at the time and still dressed in a tan snowsuit my mother had bought him.

I have writing memories like that, too.

When you've pecked at your first novel as long I have, you'd think the particulars would be long buried under more important life moments, but some of them, for whatever reason, are as clear as they day I experienced them. For instance:

* One evening, near dusk, my oldest kids and their friends were modifying the backyard playhouse, so I threw some toys on the floor for my crawler (Timothy, now 20), shut the bedroom door, and wrote a scene where Melissa is alone at home (everyone else had gone to the movies) and searching near Simons Mansion for Snowbell (that scene never made it to the first draft).

* I was taking my daily power walk in Marcrest subdivision in Joliet (where we used to live) when I created a piece of dialogue for Henry that would be my unspoken tag line for many years. I also mentally wrote one of the scenes still featured in Bryony, although I later changed the location in the house. BTW, for anyone familiar with Marycrest, I was walking on St. Joseph, past Marmion and Madonna and around the bend to St. Francis. The sun was shining, too, and it was about 11:00 in the morning.

* The afternoon John Simons' hair lightened and came down, I was driving north on Infantry Lane in Joliet, past a paper carrier acquaintance's house, on my way to pick up a kid nicknamed "Doc." I was listening to Adia by Sarah McLachlan when the image popped into my head. I couldn't wait for a red light to mentally describe my vision of John playing a grand piano inside Simons Mansion, except it wasn't in the music room, but near the grand staircase. At the time, I was a new single parent and my teens had talked me into managing a crew of kids selling newspaper subscriptions. By then, I was writing for the paper and delivering it, too. Hardly the most opportune time in my life to work on a novel, but I always kept paper and pen in my van and jotted notes for Bryony whever I had a chance.

I was pacing the floor with colicky newborn (Timothy, again) when I created the very ill Frank Marchellis. Three years later, I was pacing the floor with a colickly newborn (Rebekah) when I created two characters for Staked!, the third novel in the BryonySeries, although at the time, it was only one, yet unamed, book.

* The inspiration for a confrontation between Melissa and Henry--actually the character of Henry himself--a favorite with those who have read a Bryony draft (including two of my editors) came from a dream I had regarding an argument with a Henry-like character.

Does anyone else have memories like that?

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