Wednesday, April 08, 2009


[Edit: Dang! I wrote this for Chocolate on My Cranium's Wordful Wednesday. Except, now I see that it wasn't supposed to be this Wedneday, but next rather. Oh well, I screwed up. Sorry, Monts.]
I love to read. I especially love to read novels. Ever since I was a kid, I've dreamed up plots and characters for my own novels--the ones I would write some day. However, I never wrote one. Why? Because it seemed too hard when I made small attempts. Also, once I became an adult, I tried reading a few novels written for adults rather than the classics I grew up reading. Some were okay, but nothing inspired me to want to make my own contribution. I decided the really great books were written by past generations, so I went back to the classics and stubbornly stayed there.

In July of 2006, I read a book that was on our book group list for that year. I was reluctant to start it, since it was modern juvenile fiction. However, I was surprised and delighted by Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. The entire time I was reading it, I thought, "I wish I'd written this book." I realized that great and inspiring books (at least according to my taste--I know everyone's different) were being written now, and I could find them in the Young Adult, Teen, or Juvenile fiction aisles at my library or bookstore. I found that the books that most sparked my imagination and desire to write were fantasy, adventure, and historical fiction/fantasy. Previously, my list of favorite authors was fairly small, limited to Jane Austen, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Charles Dickens, Booth Tarkington, the Bronte sisters, and a few others. I joyfully added new favorites like Eva Ibbotson, Joan Aiken, Neil Gaiman, Nancy Farmer, and Laini Taylor.

Not only was I inspired by these books, I was also inspired and encouraged by the authors who wrote them. From reading author blog posts about their experiences, I realized that writing a book took a tremendous amount of time, dedication, and hard work. I learned many useful tips about writing books and I realized that I could do it.

Last summer I came up with an idea for a historical fiction novel. I developed a plot outline, setting, and characters. I spent many, many hours researching the time and place--medieval Spain. However, when I started writing the book, I realized that I needed to do a lot more research, and it wasn't going to be easy to find what I needed. I lost momentum on that project because I became tired and frustrated with the research dead end. I'm still excited about the possibilities for that book, but I decided it was a bit much to tackle for my first.

About a month ago, a new book idea occurred to me. I am really excited about it. It's historical fiction/fantasy, but the setting is much closer in time and geography. The research is so much easier. Actually, I already have an idea for a sequel!

Reading Princess Academy reawakened my desire to write novels. And that new desire to create recreated me. I feel like an entirely different person. I am more aware of beauty and I find inspiration everywhere. Life is suddenly so much more compelling, riveting, moving.

Who needs drugs?


Meg said...

I have no idea where that castle is...if it's real or computer generated...if you've been there or only dreamed it...but if it's on your "been there done that list" I am deep emerald with envy! That's amazing.

You know I give you two thumbs up for your writing and hope your dream comes true.

One last thing - I am not much for rewriting, remaking, "sequelling"- whatever you want to call it - the "classics". But seeing Joan Aiken on your list reminded me of one she did titled, "Jane Fairfax", written, of course, from Jane's point of view in Austen's "Emma".

Don't know if it would be your cup-o-tea but I just thought I would pass it on in case it is! :)

Welcome home.

Ave said...

You are being mysterious about the plot and setting of your new book. What is it? hmmmmmmm.

Calandria said...

Meg, that is Pena Palace in Portugal, and I have been there. But this photo is heavily Photoshopped. :)

Ave, it just sounds so dumb when I try to explain it. I wouldn't mind telling you about it on the phone.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Wow! A new book idea with a sequel to boot. That's amazing! I've quite enjoyed some of the Young Adult/Juvenile fiction books that have come out lately too. I think we've read many of the same ones.....and it doesn't hurt that my mom needs reviews for books she sells at her bookstore. :D

I think you need to talk J into moving to Spain for at least a year so that it's easier to do research for your first book idea.

Calandria said...

Choc, I think that's a marvelous idea.

Calandria said...

So Meg, did you like Jane Fairfax? When I discovered how much I liked Aiken, I saw that on her list of works. Like you, I'm skeptical of remakes so I haven't read it.