Getting my first novel Beyond Blood published even at the ripe old age of 65 still resonates. Especially when I dreamed for years of doing so but had to hold back on the writing required because I needed to do other stuff to earn a living.
That includes working as a secretary in what seems like another life. But some of this other stuff is and was writing – since 1976 (gulp) when I first started getting my humorous personal essays and feature articles published in a local Bradford, Ontario newspaper. Personal essays equals short memoir pieces and although the book-length memoir is still being rewritten, getting personal essays published early in my writing career apparently is a feat not easy to do – at least these days. All fodder for the memoir book.
As for Beyond Blood – it has been in the works off and on for around 15 years. Maybe longer, as my freelance writing and some of those secretarial positions provided information, research and impetus for Beyond Blood. For example, two of my main characters who are PIs, fraternal twins Dana Bowman and Bast Overture get some of their career history from me. Bast is a former crime reporter and although that wasn’t my main beat, I did write some crime stories. Dana has a history as a freelance PI, which I never did but being a journalist also requires a lot of digging around and interviewing people. And the main police officer in the novel, Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding was inspired by a sergeant when I worked as a clerk for the Toronto Police Services back in the 1970s. I also worked as a secretary in a legal office in the late 1980s. So my secretarial background did more than pay the bills.
Then there are my growing-up years when I became hooked on mystery fiction. My late Mom and I would watch the Perry Mason series (the older one in black and white) on TV every Saturday evening. My mystery reading started before that with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, moving on to Agatha Christie when I was 12 or 13 – and on to many other mystery authors since. I am still reading new mystery authors (new to me) and learning from them.
It goes to show that writing fiction digs back into your past. Who you were, who you have become and your experiences all factor in. As a child I was bullied by both a classmate/friend and one of the nun teachers. So I felt like the underdog – and that is an underlying theme in my mystery writing, especially where children are concerned. But not all children with horrific childhoods come through okay. And I use that too.
Writing fiction also uses my imagination. It is fiction, not fact. The plots can become devious and I should hope original. And the characters… Let’s just say Dana and Bast (Dana, in particular) tend to take over and rule the roost in my fiction writing.
That’s a good thing for me. Fiction writing can get you out of the misery of your life. But it is also a means to have things get solved, some resolution, some closure – which often doesn’t happen in life.
Of course, some things in fiction still carry over into the next book.
And the book cover at the top links to my book on Amazon.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes