One of the things I always tell voice students is that we are all stuck with certain themes and ideas and motifs that will show up in our work. As I’ve been going through backlist titles to get them ready for sale as ebooks, I’m struck by how much of my writing voice was there, even in the earliest books.
In the book I am finishing for Bantam, The Garden of Happy Endings (out in May 2012), there is food and a good, smart dog, and a woman who has some issues with the Church. There is a pilgrimage that starts the whole tumble of events in the book, and a garden that provides a center of healing.
I recently reread A Winter Ballad, a medieval historical romance that was originally published in 1993 (and is now available again in e-book form) . There is a woman who is at war with the Catholic Church, and a dog who has been a loyal companion to a knight, and the book culminates with a pilgrimage across France, to Avignon and beyond. The main character is a healer who knows all the medicinal plants in the garden. (There is also a cat named Esmerelda, which astonished me…that my cat, who only died in January, had been in my life THAT long!)
In virtually every novel I have written, in any genre, some major scenes will take place in a kitchen. There will be scenes written around food, the preparation of food, the feeding of people. There will be dogs and/or cats, because it’s completely impossible to imagine having a life without the companionship of pets. There are hints of the mysterious and the miraculous in them, too, and always a strong love story. I am in love with England and Spain and walking and dogs and good food and the possibilities of faith and hope. Those things all show up in my books, and have from the beginning.
Can you identify themes in your own life? Things you love that run through your work?
NEWS: The wonderful Sharon Schlicht and I are working on two collections of Girls in the Basement essays on the writing life, with a goal of releasing them by August 15th. The first is The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement, an upbeat guide to the writing life; the second is the GITB Year of Celebration. Stay tuned!