I first started this blog on 31 October 2011—Halloween. I don’t think there’s any hidden significance to that date. I don’t write about horror or ghosts or witches like you might associate with that day. Since then, I’ve been lucky to attract some followers, especially here in 2012. And so I thought I’d revisit a couple of early posts to introduce you to my fiction.
A few of you may have seen the original posts. But since most of us don’t have time to go back and peruse the archives of fellow bloggers, I thought I’d make it easy. So here’s a recap of how I came to write novels.
How Did Get Here? Part 1
So how does an archaeologist come to write fiction? Some of my associates in the other subfields of anthropology might tell you it’s no great leap – they think that’s what archaeologists do all the time. You can imagine how most of us feel about that joke.
Seriously, I never saw it coming. I always got As in English classes, and my teachers and professors said I was a good writer. But once I got to graduate school, all of my writing was academic. And trust me – professional archaeological writing will never appear on a bestseller list. It’s everything good fiction isn’t – wordy, passive, and jargon-filled. Have trouble sleeping? Pick up an archaeological site report. You’ll be out in no time.
Still, over the years I’d get some ideas and think they’d make an interesting book. But ideas are easy – writing a book is hard. Then, in late 2007 or early 2008, I watched a documentary about the Smithsonian Museums, and there was a segment about a naturally formed mummy. It grabbed my attention. Researchers couldn’t match the name on the headstone with local records from the time the guy lived and died. And some of his clothing wasn’t quite right.
Now there was an idea for a book. An archaeologist excavates a burial, and something doesn’t fit. When she examines the artifact more closely, she accidentally reactivates it and the adventure begins. I tried to start it then, but the Muse wouldn’t unlock the door to creative writing. And so the idea kicked around in the back of my head with no way out. But the Muse apparently had plans for 2009….
How Did I Get Here? Part 2
In late 2008, a friend told me she had started working on her novel again. And I told her what I said in my last post. I could come up with ideas, but writing them down was another story, so to speak. I envied her talent and perseverance. At the same time, another idea started taking shape in my head from various threads – string theory, the multiverse, alternate selves. Take a character through a slice of her life in a few different universes.
That idea kept going through me, taking more substantial form in my mind, although I still didn’t sit down at the computer. But on Easter Sunday in 2009 I was talking with my mother. And at one point she said, “You’re a good writer. You should write a book.”
Something clicked in my brain. She’s right, I thought – I should try to write this story. And in that conversation, my mother told me a family story I’d never heard before. It became the germ of the last idea I needed to start the book. (Sorry, I can’t tell you what it was – I don’t want to give away too much!) Two days later, I sat down at my computer and started writing a story I would ultimately call Summer at the Crossroads. This time, the words came. And they didn’t stop. I was writing a novel. Looking back, I think that clicking sound was the Muse unlocking the door to creative writing. And that’s how I got here.
If you’re still with me, you might be asking, “But what about the first idea? What happened to it?” Oh, it was still there. But that’s another post for another week.