I (Jennifer) was happy to have the chance to ask author Brenda Baker to our site today to share something about her love of reading and writing. Born in Toronto, Brenda spent 35 years writing computer programs in Canada, the United States and the Netherlands, before becoming a novelist. Her passion is exploring new cultures, with knitting and reading tied for second place. She likes cats, but resists owning one herself, since everyone knows little old ladies can’t stop at just one.
Brenda’s recently released book, The Elusive Mr. McCoy (linked to Jennifer’s review) is a richly emotional journey of two women drawn together by an unexpected and unwanted bond. To read an excerpt from the novel, visit www.brendalbaker.com
When Jennifer asked what fascinates me about the stories I write, I had to stop and think.
I am fairly new to novel writing and while the process of creating one still intrigues me, I wouldn’t use the word fascinating to describe the days spent tugging at my hair and banging my forehead on the keyboard in the struggle to create a story. Amusing, maybe, if I were watching someone else doing it.
Then I realized the important word in the question, at least for me, was “stories.”
I’ve been passionately in love with stories ever since my appendix burst when I was eight years old. Abdominal surgery was a big deal back then, and I had been ill for a while before my parents realized I wasn’t faking a stomach ache to stay home from school. So I was in pretty rough shape when I woke up in the hospital the day after surgery. My stomach still ached. I was starving, but the only safe thing to eat was Jell-O. Television hadn’t made it into hospital rooms yet, so I was bored as well. To stop my whining, or maybe just to get me far enough away from the nursing station that she didn’t have to listen to it, one of the nurses put me in a wheelchair and rolled me to the children’s section of the patients’ library. I pulled a book off the shelf at random (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis) and flipped it open. By the middle of the second page, I had forgotten about my sore, hungry tummy. By the end of the first chapter, I was addicted to fiction.
Fiction is so much better than real life. It brings a sense of order to the chaos of reality. The characters in novels have understandable motives, unlike real people who do weird stuff for no apparent reason at all. In stories, cause and effect is obvious, while real life is chock-full of seemingly random events. Best of all, novels have satisfying endings and the good guy almost always wins. How often can you say that about real life?
What fascinates me about the stories I write is the same thing that fascinates me about the stories I read: they portray the world the way I wish it were instead of the way it really is. We have to live in reality; no getting around that. But there’s no rule against taking a break from it every once in a while.