Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
People ask me where I connected with some of the dramatic circumstances that can be found in my novel–which is COMING in the next three to four weeks! (Yes, I’m excited!) I don’t know if my experience will prove helpful for you, but this is it:
My novel is not the first manuscript I’ve ever written, but it’s the first one in which I gave myself permission to write uncensored from a place deep inside. I wrote beyond rules and conventions. I wrote raw. (And then I tidied up!) I didn’t intend to draw from the following influences, but when I reached down into myself, there they were. My inspiration for the major themes came from three dramatic sources.
First was the film IMAGINING ARGENTINA with Emma Thompson and Antonio Banderas. The so-called “disappearances” in 1970’s Argentina—which were actually the mass murders and torture of anyone the military government of the time deemed to be a dissident—are the major focus of the film.
In reality, I was just beginning the most important aspects of my life during those years (my teaching career as well as my marriage), and I barely noticed the news reports that ran on American television. When my husband and I rented the Netflix DVD recently, I was shocked that I was so entirely ignorant of the atrocities portrayed. I used them as a springboard for my novel, although the vast majority of the story takes place in the United States and has nothing to do with Argentinian politics.
My second major outside influence arrived in the book FAR FROM THE TREE (by Andrew Solomon). Solomon delves deeply into many “horizontal identities”—identities that can separate a person from his or her birth family. For example, if a child is born homosexual, blind, deaf, autistic, or differently abled, those conditions can make that person identify with other people who share the same realities, especially if family members don’t.
Every chapter in the book was a window on a world I knew little, if anything, about, but the one that spoke most to my writing was the one on victims of rape (the one raped and the children who were products of rape). I have known several victims of rape, and the long-lasting damage to body and soul those women (or men or children) may endure has always impressed and saddened me.
My third influence came out of several profound events in my life and personal stories that happened to people around me—experiences of death, loss, PTSD, disillusionment, and unconditional love. Thus was born a novel that focuses on how ordinary people move beyond merely surviving traumatic experiences to find strength and prevail. Those who have read Death Lost Dominion so far have been touched by its power. I couldn’t ask for more.