I’ve always been a big believer in moving forward. I’m presently working on the fourth version of an outline for my new novel, a book that is a significant departure from my Kate Lange legal thriller series. This is a book that spans three continents against the background of war – and it is set in the late 18th century.
It has challenged me on many levels. Firstly, I needed to become an “expert” in the period about which I am writing. I have spent the past twelve months researching various facets of my book, utilizing the excellent university library system we have in Halifax. I finally feel that I have reached a point where I can understand my characters, the events that shaped their lives, and the places in which they live.
However, it has not been an easy process to develop the characters, create a suspense plot framed around historic events, and define the scope of the book. In fact, it feels very much like I am mired at times, trying to dig deeper, move faster, and get to the final destination before the story is ready to yield.
What is interesting is the personal journey that has been evolving behind the story building process. I think this professional and creative challenge I created for myself has spurred a desire to take on other challenges.
Last April, I returned to running, after giving it up years ago when I tore each of my knees in skiing accidents, and then developed a chronic shoulder injury due to a car accident. With three runs under my belt, I committed myself to downloading the Nike running app. At my daughter’s suggestion, I created the username, “powerpam.” Within an hour of logging in, I had been taken out at the knees by a large dog, crashed on the back of my head, and suffered a concussion that took several months of recovery, and a sprained knee that took even more. I really didn’t think I’d be able to return to running. My knees had taken enough abuse.
But in October, powerpam powered up again (and so did powerpeaches, my pug), and this week I’ll hit the 50 km level on my Nike running app. Despite the myriad of aches in my body, it feels great to accomplish this.
Then, my eldest daughter asked me if she could take French lessons to improve her oral fluency for her International Baccalaureate French exam in February. It was just the impetus I needed. My main character in my work in progress is half French. I have been reading many translated memoirs and digitized archival letters written in that period. My goal is to visit the settings in my book after the first draft is written, and hopefully view original documents in museums and libraries in those settings. I had been privately lamenting the loss of my fluency in French.
Thus, when my daughter requested French tutoring, I asked her if she wanted a practice partner. Et voilà, we are now enrolled in bi-weekly semi-private lessons. We had our first oral assessment today. It was, shall we say, a bit rough. I have not been in a French class in 25 years. But I could not resist the opportunity to take French lessons with my daughter, who is the same age I was when I spent the summer in Montreal, studying French. It is fun to rediscover this journey with her. The bonus is the French school is next door to a French bakery. Croissants, mes amis?
I was recently interviewed for the Dalhousie Magazine in their Alumni Spotlight. The editor asked me if there was anything I wanted their readers to know about me. My answer: I am a lifelong learner. That is one reason why I love being an author. I can explore so many subject matters, meet so many interesting people, and have a dialogue with my readers.
And hopefully, run those croissants off along the way.