Thursday, March 25, 2010

Solomon's Puzzle -- The Dream

It began with a dream. I was living in a far off land where heat sizzled the sidewalks and lizards visited my kitchen cupboards. But I dreamt of snow . One night, I had a dream where three boys were lost in a snowstorm. Their home was a place near the sound of rushing water and their rescue was joyous.  I saw them, saw the snow, heard the water and couldn’t forget the image. It stayed with me as if it were a photograph.

This is the story of how I came to write my novel, Solomon’s Puzzle. Set in modern dayAnnapolis, it tells the story that began with my dream and ended as a beautiful depiction of the community I love here and the power within them to restore life. The title references King Solomon’s famous decision where two adults claim one living child. My book explores the idea- What if the child had been given to the liar? So many people have asked to read Solomon’s Puzzle I’ve decided to print some copies which will be available around Thanksgiving.

I had no intention of becoming a novelist. My family was growing and I had given up earlier plans of being a newspaper reporter. But the images of the dream returned to me in moments of quiet, in those clear moments of thought before sleep, or when we were driving long distances in the car and I wanted to ignore the skirmishes in the back seat.

I gazed at the dream in waking hours. Though I had not read John Gardner’s book On Becoming a Novelist yet, he description of the writing process fit my thinking. He says that writing fiction is similar to peering at a dream trying to figure out what’s happening. I think this is because the images in a dream are not exactly like real life, they’re close enough that we recognize them. They are symbolic representations of our struggles, fears, triumphs. So it is with fiction.

When my family was young and busy, I woke one morning with a desire to write, but I was far too busy to do so. Besides church and home responsibilities, I was home-schooling my two older children and I had two other active tots, one who loved my company and one who had to be watched constantly less he swallow sharp dresser knobs, drink the dog's heartworm medicine, try to climb out the window or swim in the mud.

Anyway,I had no idea what to write about. The popular books were bloody mysteries, which I’d read and admired the plotting, but didn’t want to imitate. I guess I was more interested in why violence happened and the results than who did it. Romance novels abounded and were said to be easy to publish and lucrative. Eventually, I did try to write one, but was told my characters were too complex, too thoughtful, so I sold parts of it to a British magazine which, at the time, published thoughtful fiction. There were the popular Christian prairie novels which I’d read and found diverting and that’s all. And finally there were self-help teaching books. But I had no intention of telling people how to live.

Not writing but wanting to write made me dream in snatches during the day. I thought about the teenagers I’d seen in the snowstorm and I wondered about them.
Why did the one boy stand apart?
What had caused his reluctance?
What could explain the looks on the others' faces? Gazing such at the vague but compelling image of my dream I came to understand my characters. I knew their names, and what they laughed at and what they struggled against. I began to sense a story that I wanted to tell.

When I shared my desire with my family. In their typical way, they were accepting and joyful about my hidden desire. They helped make time in our schedule and space in our home to write.

My family supporting me, I began. It was time to learn to write.


  1. Love it.....this is so exciting. I want to get on that list for a copy of the book!