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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Why We Write What We Write



By Velda Brotherton

Most of us have good reasons for writing each and every book. But have you ever wondered where those ‘good reasons’ are born? Is it really voices that won’t leave you alone, or does it go deeper?

When I began the Victorian series, a story of an English settlement in Kansas, it didn’t occur to me why I was so interested. I thought it was only because my husband and I visited Victoria, Kansas after a couple of book signings in Holton and Circleville.

My great-grandmother was a Victorian. She traveled to Kansas in a covered wagon when she was 13. Not to Victoria, but still there was the real connection. I sat at her feet many times and listened to her tales about that trip. This was the answer to why I was so interested in this subject. Why I had to write, not one book but a series about Victorians in Kansas.

It has occurred to me over the years in the researching and writing of 25 published and uncounted unpublished books, that we write about the curiosities that reside in our brain. Those that ask us who, what, where, when, why and how. Much like the reporter who must answer those questions in each story, we as fiction and nonfiction writers are plagued by them each time we sit down to write.

When I was a child my father went on a hunting trip each fall to Montana or Wyoming. I looked up the states, saw photos of majestic mountains, glorious valleys cut by ribbons of shimmering rivers, read about the historic battles between American Indians and soldiers. Even then I was hooked by an avid curiosity.

When I wrote my first western historical romances, I set them in Montana and spent months on research to make sure I had everything correct from the animals, trees, flowers, to the locales and dates of battles. All this because my mind had held on to that childhood curiosity. It became my way of going there.

While visiting my brother, the one in Circleville, he mentioned a gold mine there, the only one in Kansas. He took me out to look at it from a distance because it was on private property. It was a couple of years before those memories stored in the file cabinet in my mind hopped out and said it was time to learn more about this. Time to write a book about it.
                                                         
Ask yourself why you wrote your last book. What inquiries kept bothering you until you had to find the answers? I think you’ll find each and every book you wrote began with those niggling desires to learn the who or why or how of something. We’re told writers begin by saying what if? Others claim it’s the character. But it goes deeper than that. We are so thirsty for knowledge that we cannot resist that frantic dig into a subject that has haunted us. We’re hooked by our own need to know more.

Velda Brotherton writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements.  She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.



10 comments:

Gayle Gresham said...

What a great line, Velda! "We write about the curiosities that reside in our brain." Exactly!

Brigid Amos said...

I love your reference to "uncounted unpublished books!" It is true that sometimes what we write really is just for ourselves, even when we don't know it at the time. And there is nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerened.

Alice Trego said...

I really enjoyed this post! I am most intrigued by those little nuggets of history I discover when I'm deeply entrenched in research for another subject. More often than not I get caught up in the research so I can learn more, and "more" sometimes is not enough!

Anne Schroeder said...

Great post. And food for thought. I write about subjects that touch my heart and intrigue me as well. My historical western series is set in my hometown, in the two previous centuries before I lived there. I'm working my way up to the time that I lived there to remind us that many people's struggles brought us to where we are today.

Arletta Dawdy said...

Velda, Your "curiosities" have resulted in some mighty fine work. I recently read BEYOND THE MOON and often put it aside. I needed to feel and think about my own experience married to a Vietnam vet whose PTSD was much milder but still very traumatic for our family. I think when a writer touches others' curiosities, a special connection occurs, one that drives the reader to touch on their own lives. Thank you!

Carmen Peone said...

Great post! I think this said it all, I think you’ll find each and every book you wrote began with those niggling desires to learn the who or why or how of something. Yes. This is why we write. Well done.

Carmen Peone said...

Great post! I think this said it all, I think you’ll find each and every book you wrote began with those niggling desires to learn the who or why or how of something. Yes. This is why we write. Well done.

Carmen Peone said...

Great post! I think this said it all, I think you’ll find each and every book you wrote began with those niggling desires to learn the who or why or how of something. Yes. This is why we write. Well done.

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