I’d like to thank Kate for inviting me to guest blog today. Twitter is proving a good place for writers to hang out and connect with other writers from all over the world.
My writing journey has taken many twists and turns and crossed oceans. I’ve spent an almost equal amount of time in Europe as I have in the US, and that informs my writing on different levels, I’m sure.
But, to the stories:
It was a dark night one winter in Seattle, when I filled an antique fountain pen and let the ink flow into what is now a novella “Tales from the Fountain Pen”.
“Slowly my eyes adjust.
I am outside. The breeze is cold, but not unbearably so. Stars shine brightly overhead, but I see no sign of the moon. Perhaps that is why I am out this night. But what am I doing here on a deserted back road surrounded by farmland?
“Are you coming?” the familiar voice of my brother whispers. “We don’t want to get caught by a patrol.”
“Oh, right. I was just admiring the stars,” I say, and look at my brother. His face is almost hidden by the dark; I can barely make out his features.
He takes my arm and we walk along the empty road toward a structure in the distance. Of course: the Adema farm. I am taking my brother to the farm to hide him from the Germans.
But, wait. This is not the way to the Adema farm. Are we going even further away?
Just then, Theo puts his arm around my shoulder and pulls me close.
“Patrol, act married,” he hisses in my ear.
“Right.” I remember what our plan was now.
I snuggle against his shoulder. My left hand is in my pocket and I can feel our mother’s wedding band on my ring finger. Everything has been set up to give the appearance of a married couple.
“Halt,” a gruff voice behind us calls out.
We stop and slowly turn around to find a small German military vehicle with its headlights shuttered.
Fear spreads from the pit of my stomach through my whole body. This is no ordinary patrol. These are people on a special mission, I’m sure of it. There are twice as many soldiers on the vehicle as normal and they have a Gestapo member with them.”
I feel I had nothing to do with it other than to hold the pen and let it do its thing. And of course, refill it, which on that first night, I had to do three times. I finally had to stop writing when I was cold and shivering, and my hand cramped so badly that the pen shook, dripping ink.
Exploring the family stories that way proved successful. From there my life slipped into a dark period which pushed me into a different genre. My next novel was a YA thriller with a hint of paranormal in the form of remote viewing.
My lovely indie publisher Untreed Reads, again picked it up and not so very long ago “Out in the Dark” saw the light of day. Imagine my delight at holding an actual paperback in my hands with my …. pen name on it. Since I didn’t want to confuse my audience with both historical fiction and YA thrillers, I opted for the pen name, Nicola Adams, for YA. (And, yes, there is a story behind that choice of name too.)
“The image flashed across his brain again and Jake rubbed his eyes to make it go away. He knew what it was and why he was seeing it, but he didn’t want to deal with it. He shouldn’t have to, not at his age. He should be having a normal life, going to baseball practice, sneaking a smoke behind his mother’s back and cutting the occasional class to prove he was a normal teen—except that he wasn’t.
It was all his father’s fault. His father had taught him to see what nobody else could. To see far away and see what he was told to see. His father had taught him to read people, events and places from afar, and now his father was sending him images. Things Jake didn’t want to see.
The school bus bounced across the potholes like it had lost all suspension. It was the oldest bus in the fleet, used to pick up the rowdiest kids along the rural routes in Washington. The seat covers were torn and the windows covered in permanent marker graffiti; some good, most terrible and just about all of it lewd.
Jessica nudged him hard in the ribs. “Hey, you listening?”
“Yeah, I’m listening,” Jake grumbled. She might be his girlfriend, but he was getting tired of her constant chatter about clothes and parties and celebrities. “When’s the party and where?” he said in a gruff voice, the one he’d adopted after his father left for the Air Force base somewhere south.
It had only been a year since his dad got called up for a special and highly secret project, but it felt so much longer. Jake’s mother could barely cope, and Jake felt sure she would start something with Mr. Caruthers, the high school football coach. He’d been hanging around for weeks now, supposedly helping her out with chores around the house, but acting as if he was about to own the place.”
As my life slowly entered calmer waters I returned to historical fiction, stories without wild car-chases. A long email correspondence with a sometimes friend in Strasbourg, France, handed me more information than I could possible squeeze into one book. Not only was he able to get me detailed – first hand – accounts of the area during WWII, he also emailed me a treasure trove of pictures and fading, crumbling documents found in a suitcase hidden under a friend’s bed. These pictures and documents tell a fascinating story of a time between the two world wars. That story is now in the To-Be-Written stack of notebooks. My trusty Moleskine notebook stack is growing.
Right now, I’m shopping around a YA historical, the first in a trilogy set in WWII, The Coming Storm. The family saga starts in Strasbourg, France, and the surviving kids travel to Morocco to hide out and join Free France based there.
Phew … It’s been quite the journey from that dark night. My newfound freedom and more joyous life means my writing is freer. And, as contrarian as it sounds, I’m actually happily drafting a murder mystery.
Oh, and if you’re wondering where my interest in the ordinary, every-day, heroic stories from WWII comes from: I had a very, very attractive, young, high school history teacher who was obsessed with WWII and I had him for two years. Trust me when I say that most of us had serious crushes on the man and as a consequence got very good grades.
That’s a bit about my writing journey.
To learn more:
For the holidays I’m offering a giveaway of the ebook versions of Tales from the Fountain Pen and Out in the Dark.
Please indicate your preference for either historical fiction or YA thriller so you’ll be entered for the correct drawing. I will draw 1 winner each on Christmas Eve.