“I’ll never write fiction,” I told myself many times. “I don’t have any interest in making up stories and besides, I don’t even have ideas for books.”
All that changed in February 2018.
Up to that point my writing had primarily been academic non-fiction. My first published work was the thesis for my Master’s degree in Art History: The Medieval Carvings of Musicians in Beverley Minster, completed in 1995. I am quite proud of the fact that I produced it, even completing it while pregnant with my only child, but I did not pursue an academic career.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I tried my hand at freelance writing as a way of earning money while staying home with my preschooler. I did sell a hand-full of articles and saw my words both online and in print. Then life got in the way again. I got divorced and stayed busy with multiple jobs to pay the bills while co-parenting my child.
What changed my mind about writing fiction was getting an idea while walking on the beach one day. I realized the medieval sculptures I wrote about in my Master’s degree thesis could form the background of a story. Initially, I thought about writing a historical fiction novel about the carving of the minstrel figures. I realized, however, that what I most enjoyed reading were thriller adventures that featured art and history.
With those thoughts, I began plotting in my head. What if an art historian discovered symbols carved on the back of some of the minstrel figures? What did they mean? What did they lead to? Who were the bad guys that kept chasing her and who could she find to help? By the end of the day, I had a rough outline of the book.
Over the next 10 days, I came up with outlines for two more stories in the series. It seems once I found my focus and a genre I loved, the ideas began to flow. As a lover of history, I can easily get lost in the research process. As a new fiction writer, I make slow progress, so I’m not producing as fast as I would like. I hope the trade-off is a very good book that readers have trouble putting down.
My initial idea is the first book in the Sarah Walker Art History Adventure Series, The Stonemason’s Secret. I’ve written more on my blog about the art and history featured in the book along with some of my writing process. That academic paper has been on my bookshelf since 1995. While I did not pursue an academic teaching career, that research became the inspiration behind my forthcoming book, The Stonemason’s Secret.
To read the (fictional) announcement from Beverley Minster of why Sarah Walker is there for research, subscribe to my VIP Readers List here. You will also be the first to receive updates on when the book is available.