Friday, April 2, 2010

Universal themes, tapping the emotional bond

I recently won a wonderful book in a challenge on R.L. LaFevers blog. A 12-year-old heroine, in a primitive culture created totally in the fertile mind of Frances Hardinge, proves something more than just the sister of her village's most important person. "The Lost Conspiracy" is beautifully written, mystical, and entirely engaging. If Ms. LaFevers hadn't sent me that book I might never have found it on my own, and that would have been a loss. Here is a heroine who rises to every challenge with cleverness, perseverance, and courage. And an author who weaves the story skillfully from various angles, and with gorgeous language.

What do I have in common with a 12-year-old child under incredible stress, pulled by duty and torn loyalties? On the surface, not much. But when I finished the book I realized that I was completely on board with Hathin as she tries to keep her sister safe while also seeking revenge. I admire her intelligence and creativity. And I completely understand her struggle with her own identity and value.

To create a character who is both so different from the reader, and yet so like us at the heart, is something to strive for. To be able to tell that character's story in such an lyrical manner, rooted in a whole world of superstition and tradition, is an absolute God-given gift. That's a gift I always pray for.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Karen,

    Well, we have something more in common than just Max and George Abihider. I too am a writer, and have made some money, but mostly have not. LOL!

    If you are struggling with your novel, just think of it as a computer program. If, then, else.....

    I have written a novel for children and teenagers, but it has never been published. I called it, "Tag Day." I started out writing a story about my younger brother who fell out of a tree and broke his shoulder one day when he was supposed to be out "tagging" (collecting money) for his football team. I was taking courses at the Institute for Children's Literature, and my final assignment was to turn one of my stories into a novel. Well, I chose that story. As I wrote bits of this and bits of that, the story took on a life of its own, and I spent the next 6 months writing. I was addicted! In the long run, it turned out to be very therapeutic for me, so if it's never published, that would be ok too.

    Anyway, writing a novel is a daunting task, unless you just eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time. Have fun!

    Paula McClellan Hilbert