Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I have just published a new book, Magic Creek. It is a stand-alone novel about two women who come to live on the same piece of land two hundred years apart. When she is only five, she sits high in the limbs of the cherry tree and declares, "I'll always do 'xactly as I please." She becomes a pioneer, settling her own piece of beloved land on Magic Creek. She almost dies during her first brutal winter with only a wildcat for company but when she emerges in the spring, her awed community calls her Magic. She faces both happiness and hardship on Magic Creek but her life is one of strength and independence.
Tory is the wife of an abusive controlling husband. He keeps her virtually captive in their lonely house abutting the state forest. She has no car, no cell phone, no internet. He reads her letters before he mails them. He listens to her side of every phone conversation. He doesn't hesitate to use violence to quash her slightest rebellion.
When Tory is digging in the dirt near a fallen stone foundation, she finds an silver spoon and begins to have dreams of a tall black-haired woman striding across the meadow with a wildcat or riding a moon-silver pony. How the lives of Magic and Tory intertwine completes the book.
Magic Creek is my baby. All my earliest years of writing were shaped by the need to to "spend words like dollars", making every one count, to pare down, to delete. This is what columnists do. Say what you have to say in 750 words or less.
When the idea of Magic first came to me, there was no Tory. It was a novella of about 100 pages and I thought it was complete. I was writing a political column for King Features Syndicate at the time. They were starting a book-publishing division and asked their columnists if they had any manuscripts lying around. I sent Magic Creek to them and received word back that they'd be interested in publishing it if I could expand it to 300+ pages.
That task seemed overwhelming for the writer I was at the time. Three hundred pages - no way! A short while later, my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. Magic was put away during the two years of chemotherapy and radiation, heart attacks and infections - and death- that followed.
Years later when I lost my job and had no money but lots of time, I returned to it. Tory arrived in my head and on the scene to take her place on Magic Creek. I disappeared into the book which was my salvation during the stress-filled nine months of my unemployment.
By the time I found another job, Magic Creek was 300 pages plus. I had written a novel!
It was years more before I tried to publish the book, then years more of rejection from publishers. The book was turned down twice because I wouldn't (couldn't!) change the ending.
Now Magic has found her place in the world of e-publishing. Magic and Tory were my first fictional characters. By now, they feel like old friends.