Monday, August 20, 2012

Where in the World . . .?



I'm very excited about the release of my new novel, Unraveled.




When my interview was posted a few days ago, Megan Sayer asked what made me select Moldova for the setting. Some decisions I make when I begin a novel are purely arbitrary. The choice of Moldova was not.

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As I worked on the story line for Unraveled over a period of several months I knew, of course, it would deal with human trafficking. What I didn't know was where one character's abduction would occur. I didn't want to place that part of the story anywhere in Asia, because to me that seemed too obvious a choice. So then, where?

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As a Christian I rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit in so many areas of my life, including my writing. I prayed for an answer to my question, "Where in the world should I set it?" because I felt the location would be an integral part of the story. I didn't receive a clear answer to my prayers until the very week I planned to start writing the novel. I shared my dilemma with my husband, Rick, who, as many of you know, travels all over the world physically and strategically building the kingdom of God. He printed out a newsletter he had just received from a missionary he knows in Moldova -- a country I'd never even heard of. Rick had never been to Moldova, but he had met the Moldovan missionary, Andy Raatz, in Armenia the year before.

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Andy's newsletter that arrived in Rick's inbox that week just happened to deal with the very issue I planned to address in my novel. Just happened. Mhm. He wrote about what a major problem it is in that part of the world, and what he and his wife Nancy hoped to accomplish in ministry there, and I knew I had my answer.

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I contacted Andy and Nancy and told them what I was going to write about and asked for their help. They were an invaluable resource throughout the writing of the novel, sending me photographs of the local community and answers to all the questions I had. They even took time to read the manuscript when I finished it.

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But more than location came out of that answered prayer. Several elements of the story came because of that particular location, elements I hadn't planned, but that rose organically from the setting to add much to the story. That type of inspiration has occurred more than once in my writing life. As I prepare to begin another novel, I can't help wonder what kind of "surprises" are in store for me.

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What about you? How has inspiration affected your work?

8 comments:

Megan Sayer said...

Sharon I'm impressed! The story read with such authenticity that I presumed that you or your husband had been there on a missions trip. Not that I can vouch for the authenticity of my feeling of authenticity mind you - I've never been there either : ) Just goes to show, I guess, that if you present something well enough people will believe you.
Love how the inspiration came about too. God is so funny like that some times.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

My to-be-released novel "Paint Chips" involves human trafficking, too. However, it takes place in my city of Grand Rapids, MI. Originally, I hadn't intended for trafficking to occur. In fact, I battled against that idea. Eventually, I gave in to the inspiration. I hope that that part of my story can help others see that trafficking happens all around us.

The research was easy. I'm involved in a Grand Rapids Anti-Trafficking group. I already had a HUGE passion for the subject.

Sharon, I'm working through my to-read pile. I'm looking forward to reaching your book.

Lynn Perrizo said...

Sharon, I loved the book. But now that I've finished it I want the characters to continue! They can't just stop! I want to get to know Anya better and what ever happens to Andy and Aria? Great read. Couldn't put it down and there are all these veggies I'm suppose to be canning! See how I am? I'd rather be lost in a good book than be anywhere else.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Every word I write under the 'Influence' blows my mind, causes me to worship and say, "I'm glad You're writing this as opposed to me." Every word I write outside the 'Influence' stinks and breaks my heart.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Megan, thank you. I'm glad it has an authentic feel. That's so important.

Susie, I look forward to reading Paint Chips. I'd be interested in learning more about that anti-trafficking group.

Lynn, thank you! I love when readers dont want to let go of my characters. I personally love books like that. I'm impressed with anyone who cans fruits and veggies. My baby sister lives in Tenneessee and cans everything!

S. F. Foxfire said...

Sharon,

I have yet to read the book, but I WANT TO SO BAD! I think I'll skip on over to amazon and place it in my ever-expanding cart . . . right now.

There! Now when I get to order my cart, it'll be within my grasp. (MUAHAHAHA!)

Anyway, about inspiration. I find that I have a lot of little elements within my stories that are unexplained until I start plotting--REALLY plotting--it out. God does this amazingly wonderful, stupendously dumbfounding thing by raveling and unraveling (HA) things I never saw coming.

For instance. I'm about to start the fourth and final book in a series I'm doing with huge help from my brother. I was plotting it out with him yesterday, and he came up with this idea that two of my characters become romantically inclined. Later, when the girl's supposedly-dead beloved returns, the supposedly-dead one gets a fatal wound and lays dying. Now, the original element I'd had since book one was that the guy was to going to sacrifice his own life to save the beloved's life (this is fantasy, by the way). What I never knew was: WHY! Because he wanted the girl and her beloved to be together! So he sacrifices his life for the sake of his loved one's happiness! BAAAAA! I NEVER SAW IT COMING!!!! WHOA!

I love it when God does that. :D

wanderer said...

Sharon, I've been to Moldova twice and looked across the Prut River at it many times, but I've never read a book set there. I'm fixing to change that soon here and I'm excited.

Pamela King Cable said...

I’m inspired by other writers, their endurance and tenacity, I’m inspired by my family of storytellers, and I’m inspired by my beautiful surroundings as I live on a working horse farm. But above everything else, my key inspirational force is my spirituality. I am a seeker and the older I get, the more questions I have. It is my firm belief that unless a writer suffers real pain, he/she cannot write about it. You can research a person, place, or thing and write a pretty good story, but unless you experience some of the emotions you write about, it doesn’t ring true to your readers. After surviving life’s heartaches and hardships, it gave me plenty to draw from as I wrote Televenge.