Thursday, November 02, 2006
BOM: How the Idea Germinated
The Awakening sprang from T.J. Maxx, actually. Or at T. J. Maxx.
I was in the dressing room, trying on an outfit, and I suddenly wondered what would happen if I happened to hear the voice of God. Audibly. Really. Like a burning bush experience, but in T.J. Maxx.
Would people think I was nuts? Would I want to tell people at all, or would I keep the experience to myself? A sane person probably would--then I remembered that old John Denver movie with George Burns playing God. I don't remember much about it, but I do recall that the message God wanted spread around was something like "be nice to each other."
Well . . . okay. But if God was really going to speak, don't you think he'd say something of more import than "be nice?"
So then I realized that this message or whatever would have to mean something to the individual. And it'd help if the individual was a little unbalanced in some way, so that hearing a voice out of the blue wouldn't strike her as a reason to race to the psychiatrist's office.
What if she couldn't race to the psychiatrist's office? What if she were homebound? I could make her an agoraphobe . . . but how could a person live like that for a long period of time and not seek help? Maybe she'd been homebound because she was caring for an ailing parent. She'd have to live in a place where it's possible to get anything one needs via delivery, so that almost immediately limits the book to New York City, where you can get groceries, food, wares, delivered straight to your door. You could live as a hermit amid the millions of Manhattan and few people would even notice.
Okay . . . so what would God tell this woman, and why would he need to tell her? And because most of my stories are parables, how does this situation mirror a spiritual situation?
Those were the thoughts that shaped the book. And in the end, mainly due to my editor (who wasn't sure most people would know what a T.J. Maxx was), the department store completely disappeared. I was left with Aurora Norquest, age 35, living in the top floor of a Manhattan apartment building, where she has spent the last ten years caring for her dying mother. The mother dies, and Aurora is finally free to live her life . . . if she can find the courage to leave the apartment. But she's been kept prisoner there by more than her fears. She's also been trapped by a web of lies.
This novel is extremely metaphorical, and so I started thinking in terms of Sleeping Beauty . . . hence Aurora Rose and Prince Philip. And even the wicked queen. (BG)
Tomorrow: The research