Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Library is Haunted!

I am pleased to celebrate publication of The Haunted Library: The Underground Ghosts, a new book by my fellow author and friend, Dori Hillestad Butler. And #10 in the series! I asked her: If you could haunt any library as a ghost, what library would you haunt and why? 

Dori Hillestad Butler replied:
If I ever do come back as a ghost, it probably will be to a library! Haha! The question is which one? At first I thought it was a toss up between the Library of Congress and the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library, but the more I think about it the more the scale tips in favor of the Seattle Public Library. 

Sure, the Library of Congress is beautiful and it's got 32 million cataloged books. But the Seattle Public Library is one of "my" libraries. I'm there fairly often, working in the writer's room. It's also a really interesting building and I don't think I'd run out of reading material there. 

I think my haunting would entail entertaining children as the resident ghost (entertaining, not scaring!), freaking out (okay, scaring!) people who are rude to librarians, and helping aspiring writers who use the writer's room. I think I could be very happy spending eternity haunting the Seattle Public Library as the resident ghost. And as I established in my Haunted Library #10, it's POSSIBLE there's more beneath that building than people know. Only the ghosts know what's really beneath the Seattle Public Library . . . .

Dori Hillestad Butler lives up to her 2011 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. I love that this book is linked to Underground Seattle, a very spooky place!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kiss Your Inspiration Goodbye

Inspiration is an important, but ultimately small part of writing a novel. Story blossoms are everywhere—in the lines of a book I’ve read, the shape of a tree I’ve seen, the experiences I’ve had, and the lifelong sojourning of my imagination. Inspiration is the wind that comes and sprinkles pollen onto one particular blossom. Then the capricious wind flits away, leaving me with the job of growing that blossom into a lush piece of fruit. I have to water the tree. Protect the blossom from frost. Keep the insects away. I have to stop the birds from pecking the fruit. Pray that the hail will not come, and that the well will not run dry. This has little to do with inspiration and everything to do with steadfast work.

What keeps me writing after the initial inspiration is the great glory of revelation— those flashes of insight where I suddenly see what the story is really about, suddenly see who the character really is, suddenly see what that character should really be doing. Such revelations mean that my story has come alive and is now running on ahead of me. If I’m lucky, if the work is a true one, the revelations come again and again as I chase after the true story.

Often this coming alive of the story means I have to abandon my initial inspiration. Perhaps I thought the blossom would become an apple, only to find it is really a peach. It can be gut-wrenching to abandon my inspiration. But I must, in order to see what is actually in front of me now, to see what the story has become and wants to become, rather than what I thought it was going to be. As a result of my own work and care, the story declares its independence. Like any parent, I must help it become what it was born to be, and must fight my reluctance to let it go,

If a writer honors the wonder and glory and kicking life of what she has miraculously created, then, with a kiss of blessing and thanks, she can let the capricious wind of inspiration blow away over another hill, and get on with the work at hand.