One of my beta readers for Honddu Vale said, "I can't wait to find out what happens with Teg"--the witch who nursed Colin through his injuries when he literally fell into her ravine in Honddu Vale. The trouble was, I hadn't intended to write about Teg! I had a completely different idea for a third book. Teg was just an interesting twist on the disappearance of the cup.
But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn't get Teg out of my mind. God had invaded her world. How would she react? How would he woo her? Delving into the mind of someone whose life experiences and attitude toward Jesus Christ were the complete antithesis of my own freed me to express bitterness and resentment and other things I didn't normally say out loud. It was a lot more fun than I expected! Fortunately, my research trip to Wales when I was writing Honddu Vale had included some time plunging into ancient Celtic culture.
I also wanted to tell Alice's story as she entered a life completely different from what she had grown up with. She carries a lot of my own feelings of inadequacy, and the pain of someone dear to me who has suffered with infertility. How tempting it would be to take shortcuts to prove our worth. In the beginning I was afraid to try to write from two different points of view. Eventually I realized that an old witch and a young bride were completely different characters with different voices, and decided to take on the challenge. I'm glad I did.
This book took a long time to write--partly because of the subject matter and partly because I am easily distracted by other projects, including editing other people's writing. Part 3 was not a part of the original manuscript, but as I began sharing the story with my critique group, it became clear that some of the events told there could not be brief flashbacks as I originally had them, but needed their full telling. As it happens, during the course of those years, I ended up traveling to one of the countries Teg would travel through. I didn't even realize at the time that my trip would serve as research, helpful in making Part 3 come alive.
And my choral group contributed to the story. We sang a mournful Czech song of a blackbird returning to her mother's garden only to be sent away because it was no longer her rightful home. Every rehearsal made me more certain that this was Joan's story.
Be ready for your story to take unexpected turns. They may be suggested by your writing partners or arise out of your own experiences of travel or music or something else in your life. Those twists are exactly what makes creating your own story so satisfying and exciting.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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