How Our World Influences Our Writing
The answer to the title question is in your hands! I've thought a lot about it but, to be honest, I am distracted by my deadline.
Tracy wrote a wonderful essay last week about unrest in the England of 1817 and asked us to comment on how much we use what is happening in the world in the books we write.
Her question was fun to answer but as I was typing away I wondered how much what is going on in our world today effects what we write. “Our world” can be defined on so many levels. I thought about those different levels as I considered the subject.
My first thought was the world view we all share through the myopic eye of the media. The easiest one for me to pin down is my writer's response to September 11th. I have close ties to New York, children who live there and friends who died that day. In the long term though I was struck by how life can change in an instant. The first book I wrote after 9/11 – a novella for Kensington – had at its core what happens to a woman when her world is destroyed in a minute and without warning. In Carolyn Morton’s case she was suddenly responsible for a seven-year-old child who was made an orphan by the disastrous riot that led to her parent’s death in revolutionary France.
That story will always be one of my favorites, most probably because I could write with insight and the writing gave me more of the same.
Personally, I think that the increased popularity of the paranormal genre has a lot to do with the way our minds and hearts are trying to deal with terrorism – a culture with a mind set of hatred and murder that most of us cannot understand. The paranormal plays with the concept of the unknowable on a more bearable level and shows us one of two things: that compromise is possible or that we can beat the paranormal and reclaim our lives.
On another level stories come from personal life experience that influences our writing. In my case, the death of a friend, the wedding of our youngest son, the fabulous spiritual insight from our church community – all these have had a significant influence in what I have written and am writing now.
Even more micro are the moments or observations that give birth to a story. It is one of my favorite questions to ask a writer: What was the seminal idea for this book? Here's one of mine: a Christmas gift -- the Admiral Gardiner Shipwreck Coin -- was the object that made me wonder “what if this were magic” and that question became my novella “Poppy’s Coin” in The Bump in the Night anthology.
Would you care to share how the world view influences what you write? On the macro or micro level. And does anyone have an explanation for the increase in the number of romances featuring spies or former spies like the one that I have coming out in October? By the way I began writing this book more than five years ago?