What are you working on right now?
As many of my faithful blog readers know, I'm writing my first work of fiction, Half-Truths. This link will take you to a list of posts about the evolution of my book.
Although I've been working on the story for at least six years--my first blog post about researching the novel was in 2007--the story actually started out as a picture book about Wing Haven. I fell in love with this bird sanctuary and the history surrounding it when my youngest daughter and I visited when she was 5. (She will turn 22 soon, so you do the math!!).
There were too many stories to fit into a 2000-word-picture book (that was before picture books had a 6-800 word count) and the book morphed into a book for boy readers. I spent months devising a book based on a real story of a young boy rescuing a robin and bringing him to Wing Haven. When my son-in-law informed me that no boy would read a story about a robin--I went back to the drawing board.
This time, I started imagining a young woman (Kate Dinsmore) who moved from Cheraw, South Carolina into the high society of Myers Park. Her world radically changes when she meets the light-skinned granddaughter (Lillie Harris) of her grandmother's cook. After writing the book from Kate's POV, Mary Kate Castellani an editor at the 2011 SCBWI-Carolinas conference, recommended writing it from both girls POV. I completed that draft this summer and have begun the third "major" draft (there were many starts and stops that I haven't counted in that number!). I am deepening the characters and working on both girls' story arcs.
How does Half-Truths differ from other works in its genre?
As far as I can tell, there isn't another book that is set in Charlotte on the eve of the civil rights movement. In addition, I am hoping that the alternating points-of-view will deepen both white and black readers' perspectives on race, prejudice, and privilege.
Why do you write what you do?
Initially, I was intrigued with the challenge of finding the story in my own backyard that Carolyn Yoder posed to my friend, Joyce Hostetter. I also love seeing how the actions, thoughts, and decisions of previous generations influence a person's "now." And I think it's pretty cool to visit places that in Charlotte and think, "My story happened here."
Research (reading books about the era, civil rights, Charlotte history, dialect, fashion) and interviewing experts--folks who lived during this time period--are intermingled with my writing. I actually do less research now, but still find libraries I need to visit and people I want to talk to. I like to write for a few hours in the morning, but my days don't always unfold like that.
Don't give up, seek and receive input from writers who you trust, and believe in your story. But most of all,
|A path in Wing Haven that Kate and Lillie probably walked on |
as they persevered in their goal of friendship.