I’ve long searched for a way to express myself. As a shy introvert performing before other people wasn’t a good option. Although I studied art history, I never felt drawn to express myself through drawing or painting.
My first published work was the thesis for my Master’s degree in Art History: The Medieval Carvings of Musicians in Beverley Minster. That academic paper has sat on my bookshelf since 1995. I am quite proud of the fact that I produced it, even completing it while pregnant with my only child. The big surprise is that it is the inspiration behind my forthcoming book, The Stonemason’s Secret.
I left academics and writing behind for a few years. Then in 1999, the urge to write hit me again. I was moving and wanted to stay at home with my preschooler. Writing, I thought, would be perfect. I could be creative, bring in some money without having to get a job. My dream was to be a travel writer, taking trips, producing articles and earning money for the next trip.
That never worked out.
I did sell a hand-full of articles and saw my word both online and in print. Then life got in the way again. I got divorced and had to take jobs to pay the bills while co-parenting our child. I dabbled in other creative enterprises, re-designing jewelry and clothing and selling them on the new website, Etsy.
In the summer of 2017, I got the urge to write again, but this time what I kept writing were personal essays. It seemed everywhere I looked, I saw a story that related to my life. I started writing by hand, getting everything out of my head and onto paper. After submitting a few essays, and having them all rejected, I realized my craft needed a lot of work. While I had always thought of personal essays and memoir as non-fiction (which they are, because they are true stories), they have more in common with fiction and its narrative structure. It doesn’t matter if a story if fiction or memoir, just that it is told well.
A walk on the beach in February 2018 gave me an idea for a story. Based on the medieval sculptures I wrote about in my Master’s degree thesis, an art historian finds clues carved on the back of several of the minstrel carvings in Beverley Minster. The clues lead to an ancient cup, which gives the power of omnipotence and immortality to anyone who drinks from it. Members of an ancient group are also pursuing the cup, trying to return it to their native land. Can she find the cup first?
I developed a rough outline of the book in about 8 hours, and over the next 10 days, came up with outlines for two more stories in the series. Then I put it aside and focused on my essays again before deciding that working on fiction was the best way to develop the narrative skills my essays needed. I have also come up with the idea for another series of cozy mysteries but will share that later.
You can read more about my current work-in-progress, The Stonemason’s Secret, here.