Discovery; not just a TV channel
I started my novel, "A Fog In Charleston" as my project for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) in 2009, based off a dream I had been having off and on for years. ‘Fog’ is the story of a modern day Civil War Historian, Caroline Porter, who finds herself transported to 1861, a few weeks before the start of the Civil War. As the story unfolds she befriends General Beauregard and a number of other notable Southern figures and faces a dilemma; if you could change history, would you?
As a licensed tour guide for the City of Charleston, SC, I already knew quite a bit about the history of Charleston during the American Civil War, but I wanted to be as accurate as possible. I began researching the city and in the process discovered for myself photographs and stories of the people during that difficult time. I was amazed at the tenacity of the people I researched and touched by their personal codes of valor, the atrocities of the war and the depth of their potential for human depravity. I was inspired by the conviction with which each side fought, for right or wrong. Their belief in themselves, in their country and in their God was probably the hardest element to capture in my novel.
With all the research I did, I figured a follow-up to "Fog" was inevitable but after living in 1861 for two years, I needed a break. I wrote a short story based on another dream I had (this is why keeping a journal next to your bed is such a great idea). I figured it was the ginger to the tuna roll of ‘Fog’, cleansing the palate before I started the next book. A friend read the short story at a critique group and afterward the people who heard it wanted to know where the rest of the story was. I took that as a good sign, so I kept writing. A little over 38,000 words later I was finished with the first draft of ‘The Singer’. I read and re –read the draft and realized that I could write more.
I wanted to continue, but when asked to describe it, I had a hard time doing so.
“It’s set in a world, not too dissimilar from ours, where there is a little industry and magic…”
“So it’s a Fantasy novel?”
“No, it really is our world set in the future, after a great apocalypse and the rebuild after that…”
“So it’s a Science-Fiction novel.”
“Then what is it?”
Cue the blank look on my face.
The time for some self-discovery had come.
My problem was that I wrote Historical fiction. I couldn’t conceive of myself as a Fantasy or Science Fiction writer, I was not familiar with those genres. Yet, when I wrote "The Singer," I just wrote the story I wanted to write. So it ended up a little bit Sci-fi and a lot more Fantasy, but I got over my label issues and the story is now something that I am quite proud of. I call it the Fantasy for the Anti-Fantasy crowd. It was incredibly liberating writing outside my “genre” and it is now something that I plan to do again and again.
"The Singer," book one in “The Singer Series,” follows a group of four young ladies as they grow from girls who were selected to wake the Master to women forced to deal with the betrayal of friends and lovers. When you give someone naive the keys to the kingdom, havoc will ensue, so it is no surprise how bad it truly gets when they make decisions and have to live with the consequences. When NaNoWriMo came back around in 2011, I was so invested in the story that I wrote the second and third books to the series in one month.
While I am currently editing ‘The Dever’ book two of “The Singer Series”, I have returned to the world of "Fog." I have discovered that it is possible to be invested in, and actively work on, two wildly different works at the same time.
Plus, General Beauregard is not done telling his story. Anne Rice has talked about Lestat hanging around while she typed out the Vampire Chronicles. Beauregard (or Beau, as I affectionately call him) does the same thing to me. He keeps nagging me to tell another story about him. I actually wrote a follow up to ‘Fog’ that was so horrible! The idea was Caroline and Beau would come forward in time. It went off the rails horribly.
When I write these days I like to listen to music. Music is an important part of the creative process for me. The music works as my muse, inspiring me and leading me to those hidden gems, those undiscovered character developments, and I have even noticed that certain characters voices only come out when certain music is playing. Through it I did discover that Beau loves Lady Gaga.
You never know what will come up when you're writing, and for me, discovering these things makes the work all worthwhile.
Both ‘A Fog in Charleston’ and the first book of The Singer Series; ‘The Singer’ will be released in 2012. To keep informed of both book releases and/or to follow L. Anne Beard further, you can find her lurking in any of these spots;
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