Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Time for a Belsnickel Story?

I was talking to my next-door-neighbor Clare yesterday and we got talking about our writing. She has written a couple of little plays based on quotes from Shakespeare. The first one, Queer Bent for the Tudor Gent, got high marks in a couple of short play competitions and was performed both in New York and Sydney, Australia. Now she's written a second one called (I think) Two and a Half Knaves and it has been short listed for another short play competition. Bravo, Clare, or should I say, “To thy right praise and true perfection!

As we were talking Clare asked if I had ever written a Christmas story and that got me thinking. Both of my novels, The Old Mermaid's Tale and Each Angel Burns, have chapters about Christmas. In The Old Mermaid's Tale, the first real love scene between Baptiste and Clare takes place on Christmas and he also takes her on her first and only visit to the Old Mermaid Inn. In Each Angel Burns there are three chapters, each from the POV of the three main characters on how they each spend the same Christmas. BUT, no, I've never written a story that was specifically about Christmas.

But it got me thinking....

I've blogged before about my family's Old World tradition called Belsnickel and I wrote about it in Fry Bacon. Add Onions. Since then a lot of Pennsylvanians have sent me emails and said that they too had Belsnickel when they were kids and had nearly forgotten about it. This got me thinking about a magazine article I had started writing many years ago and... well, the little hamsters on their wheels in my brain and the next thing you know a story started taking shape. I love it when that happens.

Last night I didn't get a lot of sleep because I had the seeds of this story in my head and the most fascinating thing to me is how little tidbits of this and little tidbits of that start percolating to the surface. I started thinking about it in terms of quilting. I don't do a lot of quilting any more but for years when I had quilt design in mind I would go in my sewing room and start rooting through my bags of fabric, taking out a few pieces of this and a few pieces of that until I had this assemblage of stuff that I liked the look of then I'd start figuring out how they would work together. That's how stories often come together.

Years ago a woman I worked with told me a very sad story about something that happened with a man she loved and the devastating consequences it had on their relationship. Then I remembered an episode of one of my favorite BBC programs, Lark Rise To Candleford, then I started thinking about a man I knew when I was much younger and a hard time he went through, then... well, it just went on like that.

So this morning I started writing. I don't know what will happen with this story but I'm always thrilled when a story finds me and lets me know it wants to be told. I have been working on Depraved Heart, too, so there is lots of writing that needs doing. Nothing makes me happier.

I'll keep you posted on my Belsnickel story.

Thanks for reading.

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