I spent part of August in London, one of the centers of the universe for many of us English literature majors in college and life. Though I revere Russian literature and have read great novels from Japanese, Ukrainian, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Nigerian, French, German and other cultures, these have all been in English translation. I have visited these countries, but I haven’t lived in the countries and cultures. However, I did live in central London on several occasions in my life—first in college, then in my first year of marriage and for six years with my husband and young sons, who were influenced by their experience living abroad, especially during the first Gulf War.
As a college student I lived on my own in London for three months the summer between my junior and senior year in college, working as a receptionist at The Christian Science Monitor where I published my first story in an international newspaper—a feature with photos on Hyde Park Speakers Corner.
As I wandered old haunts this summer, particularly the great parks of London—Kensington Gardens, Holland Park, and Hyde Park—I moved among memories even as I observed current London. It is no coincidence that my recent novel Burning Distance and my next novel The Far Side of the Desert (March 2024) are in part set in London with characters who live there. Both novels required a good deal of research into issues of trafficking—arms, drugs, and people—as well as money laundering and financial manipulation, the smothering membrane that encompasses large parts of many societies.
But research is just the beginning, providing the context of the outer world. A novel works to the extent the author penetrates the inner world of characters and knits inner and outer worlds together into a story. It is the characters who drive the story. As a former journalist, I want to be assured that I have the factual context as accurate as possible so that when imagination and invention take off, I know the platform from which it launches.
The Far Side of the Desert opens in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and flashes to London, Washington, DC, dwells for a time in the Sahara Desert then accelerates to Morocco and Gibraltar and the historic area where the ancients claimed the world ended as two sisters—Monte and Samantha Waters, one a diplomat, the other a TV journalist—get drawn into a criminal vortex.
For me, as for most writers, the process of writing is a journey of discovery. I’m led by the sleuth/journalist in me, one clue leading to another, and by the best friend or mother, listening to what the characters have to say for the characters develop their own voices and view. While the writer has created them, the characters also inform, letting the author glimpse the fullness and creative nature of Mind.
I’ve been writing for years, and in the odd flow of life, my novels are now finding their readers. I hope you’ll be one of them. The Far Side of the Desert can be pre-ordered, and Burning Distance, published March 2023, is available now and will come out in paperback February 20, 2024 with the opening chapter of The Far Side of the Desert included.
I hope you’ll order, read, tell friends, and leave reviews and comments. Thank you! Happy reading!
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