When offered the opportunity to share my thoughts on any topic about writing I remembered a creative writing course I took many years ago. I’ve always wanted to write stories. Back then I expected the course would be the catalyst for getting my ideas on paper. One night a week for two hours, we’d listen to our instructor, participate in classroom discussions and practice. The first assignment we received was to write a short essay on “Why We Want to Write”. This is how I ended that essay:
'Characters float through my mind as ships with no anchors. Mental ghosts with no names or purpose look through my eyes wanting to become legitimate and cultivate themselves on paper.
Spaceships laying idle, diamonds unmined, sculptures uncarved, swords unforged, anger unvented, sorrow not realized, love not yet manifest, all are waiting for the rightful time and place to appear, guided by my reluctant hand. Characters yearning to become real, to be loved, admired or hated.'
Will lessons still unlearned bring them into being? I can only hope so, because I want to write.
That was in September 1990. I didn’t start writing until 2009. As usual I yakked about writing until finally one day, my wife suggested to me that it was time to start or time to stop talking about it. It so happened at the same time as my wife’s ‘friendly’ suggestion, I read a short biography of my favorite author, Bryce Courtenay. I had just finished reading his wonderful tale of Matthew Flinder’s Cat, which to this day is still my all-time favorite novel. Courtenay started writing when he was 55 years old. I was 56. That was when I knew it was never too late to get started.
I already had my main character in my mind, even his name, Drake Alexander. I knew he wouldn’t be a superhero but I figured his heart would be in the right place. He’d be a leader of men, he’d stand up for them and if necessary take a bullet for them and they in return would follow him, no matter what danger waited around the next corner. I knew he’d be intelligent, handsome and a Canadian and an ex-soldier. He would have a close friend that would not be a fighter but a man of wealth and information, thus Williston Payne came into being.
I’d already had a story in mind, I’d outlined a rough draft that involved Incan gold, Spanish raiders and my hero. The story would weave back and forth between the 14th century and the present. It would take my readers from Peru to the coast of British Columbia. I was ready to start. But what did I discover? Clive Cussler published a story in 1994 titled Incan Gold. I hadn’t read the story but I was naive and worried that I would be accused of plagiarizing an established author. As if I could compete with Cussler! Disappointed, I but that idea away and started on the Dark Side of a Promise.
I’ve always been intrigued by novels that are international in scope and wanted my book to be the same, take the reader around the world. To tell this story I needed a country that had many Muslim people living there. That is how I stumbled upon Bangladesh. I stuck a bit of information about Peru too by having a family from Cuzco that was brought out of poverty and sponsored to come to Canada by Drake’s father. Little did I know then that they would be key characters in my next book.
I knew that the story would begin in Cocagne, New Brunswick. I wanted the reader to know about my village, the beauty of the bay that greets me each day, the inspiration I get from the rising and setting of the sun over the waters that can be as peaceful as a warm dream on some days or turbulent and angry on others. It would be a tale of revenge.
In 2014 I started a story about Incan gold. I’d read Clive Cussler’s book by then and of course, it was nothing like the story I wanted to tell. The Wall of War was created. It changed from the outline I’d done many years before but it still tells of the mighty Inca, the gold that they mined and shaped into works of art and ceremonial knives and other tools. It tells of Spanish raiders, their greed for gold. Danger and intrigue line the pages. Caves and mountains, deadly weapons and heroic deeds, love of family and the bonds of friendship shape the words.
It’s almost ready for publication. Watch for it in the fall and join me on the journey.
Allan Hudson Blogs through his brilliant South Branch Scribbler. Check it out! http://allanhudson.blogspot.ca/