“I’m burying my body,” she said. “It died. They just put batteries in my stomach so I keep ticking. I want to fly home.”
The fox whipped its head, and it darted by her, brushing her cheek with its length of furry tail. It ran around the house, and she followed it, picking up her skirts to give chase. She ran through thistles, but she felt no sting. She ran to the drive, but she could not find the fox. She scanned the streets, but the blind animal had run on the wind and slipped down the path between worlds.
--Walking to the Otherworld with the Blind Fox by T. Fox Dunham
WRITING WHAT YOU LOVE
Our greatest resource as authors is our personal experience and the emotion with which we imbue these experiences. Without emotion, our work is dry, insipid, uninspired, and the reader will drop the story as fast as monochromatic stereo instructions.
Often I am asked for advice by other authors on their stories or story ideas, some wee wormwood plant they’re having trouble growing, and I see the same collywobbles. The problem is usually not in the prose or the plot. Crafting a story is different from telling it. The real issue is in the source material, the source emotion behind the story.
For a story to be vibrant and star-burning, it must be written from strong emotion. This supernova feeling will be enchanted into the plot and prose and will transfer to the reader. Your emotion will compel stronger writing, will drive you deeper as an author. Writing from this emotion will energize you, whether it is directly from events in your life or story elements inspired by your life. The strongest force in your writing will be those things you care about.
It goes back to the old writing wisdom: Write what you know. Well this partially works. I’ve never been in a zombie apocalypse, so how am I going to write about one? I write historic fiction, but I didn’t fight in The War to End All Wars (There have been several of them that didn’t deliver). So you can’t take this literally. I expand on it. Write what you care about. Write those things you feel. You all know my work about cancer as I explore my death and rebirth. It’s been a few years, but for me, it still feels like I never left that Radiation Oncology Ward at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I draw from experiences, but more importantly, I summon my deep emotions about what I and so many suffered. I make it personal, show it from my point of view. I make it my own. Truth is all these stories have been told over and over again. We can only write them again from our unique viewpoints. Philadelphia has significant meaning to me, so I often set my stories in the city. Stephen King loves Maine, so he’s made it famous as a dark and terrible place where loved ones rise out of the grave and clowns try to eat your face. (I’ve actually spent several summers in Maine and love it there, especially the fishing. I only saw a few wendigos and devils opening mom-and-pop stores.) What makes these stories successful is not the detail we know because we are familiar with these settings, though that’s vital. It’s our love of the place. Our readers feel this love.
So if you’ve got a problem with your story, go back to the source. Are you writing something about which you feel strongly? Or feel at all? Writers have an intellectual crafting mind and a heart. They need to be in union for your work to be successful. Draw from your mind and your heart. Should I write this story about a junkyard in Detroit where I’ve never been? Or in my grandfather’s apple orchard when I was a kid? What will be stronger? What will be easier for you to write? When it flows sans struggle. When it pours out of you like it’s bleeding from an artery severed by a sticky Coke bottle shard, then you’re writing with your mind and heart. This union of spirit and mind is holy for we Bards. We call it Impas.
INTERVIEW WITH SARAH E. HOLROYD of SLEEPING CAT BOOKS.
I have a treat for all you Fox Boys & Girls. I was recently included in the anthology Trip of a Lifetime from Sleeping Cat Books. Walking to the Otherworld with the Blind Fox. It’s a story based on some of my real journeys as a Bardic Shaman. I wrote from deep emotion.
“I can’t dream anymore,” Kate said. “I have moments in sleep when I hear a child sobbing, but I can’t look at her. If I could open my eyes, I’d see an angel. My heart couldn’t take an angel weeping. If I open my eyes, they’ll fall out.”
“Come away, my darling Kate of the Roses,” Fox said. “I can show you a place that exists in the ‘tweens, where the shore meets the ocean. I can take you home.”
--Walking to the Otherworld with the Blind Fox by T. Fox Dunham
I had the good fortune to interview Sarah E. Holroyd, editor and publisher of the anthology:
So tell my foxy readers about this new book of yours from Sleeping Cat Books.
Trip of a Lifetime is the second themed multi-author anthology from Sleeping Cat Books. The theme for this book is very personal to me. I thought I was making my “trip of a lifetime” when my husband got a job that took us from the United States to Germany for three years. While the experience was immensely rewarding, I also found living in a foreign country, where I did not speak the language or know all the nuances of social interaction, more distressing than I’d imagined while planning for the move. When the three years were over, I found myself relieved that we would be leaving, even though I knew there were many things I would miss—the easy opportunity to travel high among them.
Since we knew we may never get the chance to travel Europe again after returning to the US, we decided to take an extended holiday in Paris before flying back. So while sorting through our belongings, scheduling the movers, and dropping the car off for shipping back home, we booked a temporary apartment that would allow our cat and bought one-way train tickets.
This is, truly, the trip of my lifetime. As I sit here in a tiny Paris studio apartment (smaller than one of the three storeys of our German house) writing these words, I know that I never want to leave this city. What began as a simple vacation destination has turned into a newfound home. This personal revelation about my own trip prompted me to create a collection describing other trips.
Why should we spend minutes of our down-ticking lives to read it?
This book is an opportunity to experience the work of some great writers who may be new to you. I’ve always been a fan of short-story collections for this reason. You get to sample several different genres in bite-sized pieces, and hopefully discover writers whose work you want to explore further.
So why become a publisher when you could be a police officer or mine worker?
Or a better question would be, why become a publisher when you could be a writer. I have tried my hand at writing, and have had a couple of short pieces published, but I’ve consistently lacked the discipline to finish a novel manuscript, as has always been my dream, no matter how many times I start one. I’ve come to realize that my love of words and stories and imagination is much better served, and put to better use, by helping true authors hone their work, and then sharing it with the world at large. This is where I find fulfillment for both my analytical and creative sides.
What were some of your favorite stories in the anthology, those that you knew were going into the collection after the first few paragraphs?
Now, Fox, that’s not a fair question. That’s like asking a grade school teacher to choose a favorite among her pupils. I was drawn to each piece in this collection for different reasons, and they all have their own meanings to me, and their own reasons for being a part of the whole. I hope that each piece challenges the reader in as many ways as they challenged me when I had to make my decisions.
So how did you find yourself transplanted from the mid-American states to Paris?
[that’s part of the first answer]
And what will the Sleeping Cat do in the future once it wakes again?
Hmmm, wouldn’t you like to know? Like all cats, we like to maintain our mysteriousness. But stay tuned to the website and Facebook page because when the Cat does wake up, that’s where he goes first!
I thank you Sarah.http://sleepingcatbooks.com
TRIP OF LIFETIME
Available at Amazon.com
|Carol Alexander||Ken Goldman||Dawn Anderson Sevart|
|Carole Bellacera||Michelle Hartman||Mary Sexson|
|Dianne Bown-Wilson||Ann Howells||Gill Shutt|
|T. A. Branom||Susan L. Kaminga||JeFF Stumpo|
|Tony Wayne Brown||Priscilla Kipp||Bruce Turnbull|
|Ann Carter||Joshua J. Mark||Susan Vespoli|
|Krikor Der Hohannesian||Michael McLaughlin||Jon Wesick|
|Bruce Louis Dodson||James Olivieri||Jen White|
|T. Fox Dunham||Carl Palmer|
|Jay Faulkner||Eileen Dawson Peterson|