Novelists often reveal themselves in their writing. While telling a great story is always the most important part – not the writer’s life – the creators are behind the scenes leaving breadcrumbs for readers to follow along the way.
My latest novel, Temple Secrets, may not be about my life exactly, but it certainly reveals what fascinates, intrigues and interests me.
If you’ve read more than one of my novels or short stories you will start to see themes and patterns that are like my fingerprint as a writer. I’m putting more of myself into each successive novel, so my latest one, Temple Secrets reveals than most.
With that in mind, here is a list of 13 Things I reveal about myself in the writing of Temple Secrets:
1. Ancestors are important to me. The sense that we aren’t alone; that people came before us; that some may even be watching over us.
2. Secrets make people do strange things. Everybody has them. Sometimes we even keep secrets from ourselves.
3. The spirit world, or the invisible world, (think ghosts, spirits, the secret sense) is very much underestimated.
4. Female characters and female voices are underrepresented in our culture, so I have a mission is to get more female characters out into the world who are courageous and have integrity and humor.
5. I think characters over forty are the most interesting.
6. I think happy endings are possible in life, and that it’s only to the level that we’ve experienced sorrow that we can experience joy. Readers have told me that my books make them laugh and cry. This pleases me.
7. I love to make people laugh, so my books often have humor in them. When I was younger, I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. As a girl, I would sneak into the den late at night to watch Joan Rivers on Johnny Carson. Since my comedy act never hit the road, I became a writer instead. Well, first I became a teacher, then a psychotherapist, and then a writer. It was by no means a straight path to writing. I grew into it.
8. The archetype of the old wise woman shows up in nearly everything I write because I have trouble finding them in real life. Women, in general, are very reluctant to claim these parts of themselves. We need this wisdom more than ever.
9. I am fascinated with death, so there is usually at least one death in my stories. To me, it’s the bigger story. However, I rarely kill off an animal, especially a dog. (The exception was Aunt Sadie’s dog dying of old age in The Secret Sense of Wildflower. I’m still sad about that.)
10. I think laughter opens us to a deeper emotional experience.
11. Sometimes when people are obnoxious in real life, I create a character with some of the same characteristics and then kill them off in the course of a story. Or they are found out for who they really are. I am very good at disguising these real people in the skins of my fictional characters. By the way, it’s not just me. A lot of novelists do this!
12. I always write about things that interest me. I write the story that I would love to read, trusting that other people will enjoy it, too. Since I spend years writing a book, I have to love the characters and understand them. After I release a book, I often grieve the loss of not having the story in my life every day.
13. I think we are all trying to find our way “home,” in one way or another. Home being a place where we feel the most authentic.
Does anything surprise you? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Comment here or email me at susan (at) susangabriel.com. If you’re feeling a little shy, instead of commenting, please consider posting this on your favorite social media platform.