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Life Between My Pages presents Laura Fitzgerald
December 01, 2010
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We are pleased to bring you BCQ's own series, Life Between My Pages!
This series will feature a selected author each month who will share with you their personal story about how they got to where they are today.
Prepare to be completely WOWED by these writers! You've read their books, fallen in love with their style, now learn about their journey.
Each month, when the newsletter shows up in your inbox, look for the featured author's name in the subject line. Some authors you will immediately recognize, some you will not. We can assure you that every single author invited to participate will tell a story you won't want to miss!
Being a writer is a cool thing to be. It just is. There’s an aura of glamour associated with it, and not a day that goes by when I’m not grateful I get to spend my day holed up alone, reading, drinking coffee, figuring out my characters and working through my story problems.
Parts of the job are frustrating – the constant battle against procrastination and the uncertainty as to whether I’ll be able to make a career of this over the long haul. In this economy, nothing’s a given.
Hardest of all, however, was the decision I made about fifteen years ago, the first decision that kicked everything off: To write my first novel. To be a Writer with a capital W. It’s hard to think that way when no one pays you to do it and no one cares whether you succeed or not. Until you’ve sold that first book, it’s hard to think of writing as anything more than a hobby. But I didn’t want to be a hobby writer. I wanted to be a Writer-writer.
When I decided to become a Writer, I was already a (lowercase-w) writer, working as a small-town newspaper reporter. My husband was transferring to a university to finish his degree, and while I flirted with moving to a larger newspaper, I was ready for a career change. Ready to write something different. The difference between journalism and fiction is that with journalism, you have to write what is. The facts. With fiction, you write about the what-ifs. At that point, I had a few what-ifs that I wanted to explore.
I had a story I wanted to tell.
I’d met a young woman, Michelle. Her father was a Southern Baptist minister and a sick sonofabitch. I got to know them because as part of my job, I went to the police station each day and looked through arrest reports. I came across one which revealed that the minister – a guy who very much liked getting his picture in the paper for all the good deeds he did -- had been fired as pastor amid sexual misconduct allegations, and he was refusing to move out of the house the church had given him. During the course of the investigation, police learned he’d basically been run out of one small town after another as allegations of physical and sexual abuse against Michelle and her siblings came to light.
When the police interviewed Michelle, now 21 years old, she was open about what she’d experienced. The police believed her story. And when they went back to the small towns she’d lived in and interviewed her teachers and neighbors, every single one expressed lasting regret, because in every case, they’d done what the law required them to do, and in every case all it ever did was make things worse for Michelle. One former teacher said she wished she’d never gone to the police, but wished instead that she’d taken Michelle and hidden her away until she turned eighteen.
When I read that, a story was born: A teacher who defies the law in order to save a girl. Michelle was 21 when I met her; I was 25. And while I felt like my life was just beginning, hers was effectively over before it began, so bad was the extent of the abuse. In real life, I knew that Michelle’s story would not have a happy ending.
But in fiction, it could.
I could give her the happy ending she’d been denied, the happy ending she deserved.
That desire was what enabled me to make the leap from semi-respectable reporter to penniless, aspiring fiction writer. Back then, the story was better than the writer, and while it was good enough to get me an agent, we never tried to sell it, because in between revisions, a new story idea came along and grabbed hold of me. That story eventually became Veil of Roses, which is what most people consider my first novel. But it’s not. Michelle’s story is.
These days, I have a box full of story ideas fighting for my attention; I don’t know when I’ll get back to Michelle’s. I don’t know if a publisher will ever buy it or if I’ll give it away for free. All I know is that I’ll write her story one day, because Michelle still needs her happy ending, and that’s the best part about being a Writer: I can give it to her.
Laura Fitzgerald is the author of Veil of Roses, One True Theory of Love, and the second in the Veil story, Dreaming in English, due out February 1, 2011.
Learn more about Laura at LauraFitzgerald.com.
Be sure to look for our review of Dreaming in English in February!
Happy Holidays to all our wonderful visitors out there! Thank you for continuing to spend time with Book Club Queen and we look forward to having you back for another exciting, successful year in 2011!
Be safe and take care of each other this season.
Love from our book world to yours, the Queenies
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