April 26th, 2015:

WRITING MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE

Mel book cover #1
Writing a book is a fascinating process, a great deal of it unconscious. While you’re in the act of creation, you’re thinking about the story, planning how you’re going to do it, making notes, maybe using index cards for the various scenes. In my case, since I wrote an historical fiction novel, I needed to do lots of research into the 16th century, a process I enjoyed. The Internet wasn’t the effective tool it is today and I used libraries for most of my research.

When I needed to describe a 16th century ship or the variety of clothing worn then, I headed for the children’s section of bookstores (when there were lots of them) or libraries. Picture books were just the thing. I had to know how my heroine was going to accomplish her daring feat, how she would look, and what her family home looked like. The various Time-Life historical series were a great help; they always had lots of graphics. I’ve always been a history buff and had attended many a Renaissance Faire where I’d seen Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake in action, not to mention all the hired characters and faire-goers in costume.

It doesn’t take long before the story and its characters take control. You’re living with them in your head, so no wonder. Many authors verify that oddity. Behind-the-scenes, your subconscious and your own past mingles together in the ethers, at least that’s how I explain it. I did a lot of creating while I was swimming in a pool. Water was the best element to get my “flow” going, especially since I was devising a sea adventure.

I finished the book, after five years of creating, letting it lie dormant and then recreating. During one of my last readings/proofing of the book, I began to realize why many of my feelings had come forward, unconsciously, in the book. I had given my heroine a kindly, generous father and three brothers who spoiled her. She needed one brother’s help to fulfill her dream adventure of sailing with Francis Drake on one of his early voyages to the Caribbean.

My stepfather, the US Army officer who raised me, was a very thrifty taskmaster. He saved his charm mostly for others, his strong sense of discipline for the family. It was comforting for me to create an imaginary father, who spoiled my heroine! What fun it was to write about a heroine who, despite the ups and downs, succeeds in her adventure! In inventing Melaynie’s part of the story, I found actual history made it easy to manipulate and blend real facts with my imagination.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading an excellent biography about the clever and daring Francis Drake before I started on my project, and made sure his part of the story was accurate.

I’ve always been an adventurer, but certainly not as bold as my heroine, Melaynie. Of course, she has many of my traits—how could she not! Her feminist ideas and determination were mostly mine, but I wasn’t consciously creating them in the book. All these factors snuck up on me! Or did they?

 

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