Monday, November 15, 2010

Far From Here

So I'm working on my sixth book. Yup, you read that right. My fourth book, Beneath the Night Tree, will hit stores in the new year. And my fifth book, a quasi-mystery called Sleeping in Eden, is cooling its heels awaiting the completion and publication of the manuscript I'm currently working on. I feel like I have my little fingers in a bunch of different pots right now. But only one book is consuming my every waking minute (and much of my nighttime dreams as well).

Far From Here is a story that began with a picture. When I was a little girl my dad kept a photograph in his bedroom of a young man in front of an airplane. He's a handsome guy with longish, dark hair and a dimpled half-smile. He's standing almost shyly in front of a small red and white aircraft, the glint in his eyes at once awe-filled and somehow tinged with disbelief. He seems very happy (and a little surprised) to be exactly where he is: standing on a tarmac in some tiny Alaskan town.

Apparently, I met him once. I was a couple of days old and my dad's best friend stopped in to hold the baby (me) and say congratulations. Then he took off for Alaska where he had just accepted a job as a bush pilot. On his first ever solo flight, he disappeared out of Kotzebue and was never seen again.

Doesn't that just send a shiver down your spine? Me, too. I think it's so true what they say: truth is stranger than fiction. And though I never, never want to take advantage of anyone's pain or loss, I can't help but see stories wherever I look: in relationships, tragedies, joys, and even the mundanities of life. So that dog-eared, much beloved photograph was a starting point for me, a launchpad for my next book, Far From Here. It really has nothing at all to do with my dad's best friend, but my imagination was sparked, and this book has been weaving itself in my mind for over a decade. I can't wait to tell you more about it. Stop back later this week as I share my slant on a story of love and loss.

Your turn: What life event from your own history could you see turning into a book or movie? I'd love to hear where you draw inspiration!


  1. I remember you talking about the picture of your dad's friend and how you were going to write about it someday. That was a few years go, I think! So glad you are doing it and I can't wait to read it!

    I might write a book about right now - a time of craziness amidst a lot of growing. I think I might be the only one that reads it though =)

  2. Oh! That sounds so eerie and mysterious. I can't wait to read more about it, although I'm really sorry about your dad's friend. That must have been an odd way to handle a loss through outright untraceable disappearance.

    I actually went to a baby shower a few weeks before my high school graduation where the woman the shower was thrown for was pregnant with twins. Her cousin, who I cheered with, had just finished her first year at college and was going to Japan for two weeks, then coming back to help out with the twins. Something there sparked my imagination. I started seeing a young girl coming home from school to help care for her sister's newborn twins. Of course, now, three years later her sister doesn't have babies anymore, and the girl is coming home to help her sister arrange their father's funeral. It's funny the way one spark can create something big, even if it changes along the way.

  3. I've always wanted to write a story about my grandma and her 2 sisters. Back in "the day" a rough man spoke for her sister but the sister was in love with a soldier and the other sister went in her place...for sunday dinner...and stayed with him, never came home, and married him and had a hard life. My grandma was younger and married a wonderful man....the third sister married the soldier...

  4. What a mysteriously fascinating story prompt, Nicole! I'm looking forward to discovering how you developed your plot and characters. Sounds like it will be a great read!

    Most of my family is from the Appalachain Mountains of Tennessee (more specifically, what is known now as the Great Smoky Mountains). I was fortunate enough to get to know my great grandfather when I was a teenager, during the short years before he died. He was a full-blooded native American of the Cherokee tribe. He became a Christian in his early twenties when a white missionary visited his home far atop a mountain. He soon left his home and his people and became a minister at a tiny church in the valley. He ended up marrying the missionary's daughter (my great grandmother). They had six children together. Their youngest daughter, however, became very sick with pneumonia when she was only two years old. My great grandfather spent days in prayer at her bedside. When she died, my great grandfather grew angry with God and gave up his faith. He decided to try to re-establish himself with his Cherokee family, but was met with a lot of anger and resentment from them. He and my great grandmother built a home nearby anyway. God soon drew my great grandfather back to Him, though, and my great grandfather ended up leading many of his family and fellow Cherokee to the Lord. During his ministry to the Cherokee, he ended up starting a church that melded the practice and dedication of the Christian faith with Cherokee traditions. For example, the Cherokee pray with their eyes open so that they can see the miracle of God's creation during their prayers.

    I always loved hearing my grandfather and great grandfather tell their stories of times spent on the mountain and of how the Lord grew their faith when it seened that He was far away.

  5. Jaymi, I'd love to read your crazy book! :)

    Lauren, you're so right. Most book ideas start as a spark, then slowly evolve into something that only faintly resembles the original concept. It's like having a conversation with me! I'm a derailed train of thought story-teller. Anyway, I think your idea is compelling. Question: Where's the conflict? What does your protag need/want? Just curious.

    Nikolyn, oh I'd love to write that story! Wow. What a sacrifice. What a deep, deep love between sisters. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Sherry, your family has a remarkable legacy. Do you take part in any of the Cherokee rituals? I love Native American culture, though I'm an admirer from afar--I don't know nearly as much about it as I'd like to. Anyway, I don't know if you have any inclinations to write a book, but you've got a doozie there.

    Thanks so much for sharing everyone! I had so much fun reading your story starters. :)