Do we use our own background for writing our fiction? Many will say they don’t; I would be among them except for the fact that over the years I’ve seen a pattern develop in my writing that evolves around women taking charge of their lives, whether it’s our old friend Doll Reynolds who gathers her friends to protect the prince of Keegan Bay, or Janice, who is stranded in pre-revolutionary Iran and must help her father so they can escape the country.
I even found it in a song I wrote for my musical, Murder in Morocco, the Musical in 2002. The theme is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie murder where a group of Americans set sail in the late 1930’s. There is strife in the world, but that doesn’t concern them. Then, while they are touring Tangier, Morocco, a young girl shows up and this is the song she sings:
Karen, my name is Karen. I’ve been three long years from home.
Home? Where is your home?
Home, where is home? Everybody has a home.
I was a child in a house painted white.
It disappeared overnight.
My mother and father went out to celebrate,
They never returned. That was nineteen twenty-eight.
I was an orphan alone in this world
And I had no one to care.
So I went to school, a foundation paid the way.
That helped to make me what I am today.
I focused my life on archaeology.
Egypt’s my speciality.
Then I was stranded in arid desert sands.
No more foundation, no money in my hands.
Once more abandoned with no place to go,
And still there is no one to care.
During the play, one of the group is murdered and then through song, dance, and narrative, we learn the dark secrets of all the travelers. While Karen’s plight was caused by one of them, I’ll not spoil it for anyone who may eventually get to see the show. (BTW – it won 8 Outstanding Achievement Awards from the New York State Theater Association.)
The point is, nearly all of my women/girls are seeking a home and love. Elena, in Elena-the Girl with the Piano, travels with her family through war torn Europe, she matures and becomes the one seeking a home for herself and her family; Elisabeth in The Reluctant Daughters had a home, but she messed it up and now, late in her life, she takes steps to avenge the person she blames for her and her family’s plight.
My goodness, all that drama. When I stop to recognize the pattern, I recognize that I never had a home. My parents and I lived as vagabonds traveling the country and later, when I married, we traveled the world. Even now with my most precious spouse, we have no place to return to, no place to call home. When people ask, “Where are you from?” they expect him to say England because of his accent. I don’t know what they expect from me, but I can only say, “I was born in New York,” which does nothing to explain the many states and countries I lived in before we finally settled in Florida. He can say, “I was born in London,” but that also doesn’t explain the intervening years of living in several African countries, Ireland, the UK, and several American states.
I expect even my future books will contain an element of a woman seeking to create a home. As I am working on Talk to the Knife, a murder mystery, my protagonist is renovating an old school building to be her new place of business and home.
Wow. Who knew that once you write a bunch of books you can recognize your patterns and needs. “Home, where is home? Everybody has a home.”
Veronica Helen Hart’s most recent book, Silent Autumn, can be found at Champagne Books on line. Though not mentioned in the above blog, the protagonist here loses her home and finds herself wandering the North American continent in the year 2179, not quite alone, but with a baby to protect.