I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child. At first it was comic books, then fairy tales and fantasies. As I got older, I moved on to murder mysteries, romances, detective stories and thrillers. I haunted the library when I was a kid, bringing home piles of books, often reading under the covers at night with a flashlight to escape the “ten o’clock lights out” dictated by my parents.
Books excited and informed me. They taught me about real and unreal worlds, about people and places I had never visited, would never visit. I travelled to remote islands, castles, underground caverns, battlefields, jungles, intimate beaches and outer space, all through the books I read.
I yearned to become a writer and to amuse and enchant others, the way I had been amused and enchanted. I created stories and poems for my own amusement, writing them in notebooks and three ring binders.
In high school I wrote for the school paper. I entered a writing contest, won an award and had my picture taken with the Governor of Maryland. I attended Syracuse University and majored in journalism/sociology. While there I wrote for Syracuse 10, the campus literary magazine.
Later, while raising four daughters, I freelanced for magazines and newspapers in New Jersey, writing everything from restaurant reviews to humor, business articles to op-ed pieces. But, I always dreamed of writing a novel.
My book would be a thriller, a page turner, something that would keep the reader up late into the night. It would be fact-based fiction, grounded in reality with believable character and dialogue that resonated.
I became a Girl Scout Leader. One night, when I was camping in the Pine Barrens with my troop, I went outside the cabin. A black stillness enveloped me. No lights from distant houses or cars, no noises in the thick layers of pine needles, no rustling leaves, no voices. Chills ran up and down my spine. Right then, I knew my first book would take place in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
Later, with kids grown and raised, FIND EDSELL! was born.
I spent two intense years in the Pine Barrens, working with the Forestry Department, attending Pine Barrens Conferences, reading books, interviewing dozens of people.
Finally, the story was embedded in my mind, ready to be born. I needed a place to write, away from my house, the doorbell, phones and drop-in friends.
I rented a tiny office in the basement of a Real Estate firm and six months later, I had a first draft. Time flew as words, paragraphs and pages flowed onto the computer screen. It felt like I was writing about a movie that I had already seen.
Tune in next week for The Birth of a Novel, Part 2. We’ll talk about writing what you know.
In the meantime, think about writing your own book. Everyone has a story to tell