I find that most of my clients who have written multiple books usually have a common element that can be found in each of their books. This is true of my writing as well. The one common thread that runs through each of my books is a theme that focuses on something that cannot be explained. I am not talking about fantasy, but rather those happerstances in life that occur without any logical or rational explanation.
I first got the idea for my novel, Shyla’s Initiative, when I read a news report about a little-known offshoot from the ancient religion, Santeria. The story explained how even today it is practiced throughout the country, especially in South Florida. I immediately began visiting all of the Botanicas I could locate and interviewing Santeria priests. Eventually I got invited to attend a ritualistic service. This background paved the way for my novel—a story with an underlying, mysterious thread that completely alters the personality of Shyla, my protagonist, and her purpose in life through the mystical practices of Santeria.
I decided to take a more direct approach when I wrote The Coach’s Wife. Set around the NCAA Division 1 Basketball Tournament, it is a story that reveals what takes place behind the scenes of a major university when a national championship is at stake. I was married to the late Willis Casey, Athletics Director at NC State University, when Head Coach Jim Valvano took the Wolfpack team to Albuquerque in l983 and won the NCAA National Basketball Championship. ESPN and other national television networks still show the video of Coach Valvano rushing around the basketball court after winning the final game looking for someone to hug. The first person he found was Willis. I was the second. The Coach’s Wife is a mystery full of suspense, but even here I introduce a theme of the “unexplained.”
The House of Kane once again reveals an unexplained mystery of life. The story is set around a major publishing house in New York where a homeless man, eccentric and somewhat haunted, has a skewed perception of reality that reveals truths others are unable to see. It is his perception, however, that Aislinn Marchánt, a writer and editorial consultant hired by the publisher, accepts, eventually revealing a crime of plagiarism and theft inside the world of publishing.
In Just like Family one of my characters, an elderly Vietnamese woman, keeps a psychomanteum in her bedroom that she visits regularly in order to see visions in a reflective surface and communicate with her deceased husband. Suong’s three housemates, Cora, Vince, and Charlie, each from different backgrounds and also elderly, don’t share or even understand her ability, but they love her because of it—or maybe in spite of it—as they go about fixing up an old mansion that they can live in.
In my latest novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, once again I delve into the unknown and unexplained. Three of my primary characters are orphans who happen to have IQs in the genius range. Each girl was born with a gift she excels in. Dara is gifted in foreign languages, Mackenzie has exceptional abilities in math and problem solving, and Jennifer is talented in music and art. The girls, or FIGs (Females of Intellectual Genius) as they call themselves, use their special gifts to help their teacher discover the connection between her own birth and the most mysterious document in the world—the Voynich Manuscript.
For me, writing about the unexplained keeps my interest alive and my stories fresh. It makes the whole process fun. Do you have a common thread that runs through your stories? If so, let me know about them. I would enjoy hearing from you.