Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Mailbox ~

It's time once again to answer your questions. Welcome to all you new readers and old readers alike. Today's mail comes all the way from Ceylon/Sri Lanka.

For those of you newer to this blog, you may not remember my novel, Escape from Second Eden, was based primarily on my time in that country. I'm constantly surprised by how many sales come from Ceylon and India in the past couple years. This one particularly touched my heart and I'd like to share it with you. Now to the email...

I loved the book and waiting on more along this line. What you described although fictionalized in your book brings back many memories for me also as a child during those times. I remembered your mother and the bicycle she bought me all those years ago. I know that part of the story was true.

Why did you choose that particular time in your life to write about? Vijaya R.

While we had visited many other countries prior to that assignment and since. Ceylon was special and stands out in my sister's and my mind. It haunted us for decades due to some of the occurrences. When I first started penning the novel, my little sister was scared. We never knew how much we could openly or privately talk about what went down during that time.

When I started writing and going through my old journals, I remembered so much more. After I wrote half of the novel I let my sister read it.
"Joey, what did you learn in Ceylon?" she asked me.
I thought about it and she could see me shuffling through the folders of memories in my mind.
"You know what I learned?"
"Tell me," I said.
"I learned Algebra, Geometry, French and fear!" she said.
I nodded then she broke down and cried.

This was thirty years afterwards and her response was just as strong as if it were yesterday. All I could do was hold her making little shushing sounds. While our parents always did their best to shelter us from the cruel, hard world, this time there was no shelter nor comfort. We were immersed to the drowning point. Every time we struggled to the surface for a breath of air, we were hit by waves driving us under again.

After forty years, I still feel that sensation when remembering some parts of it. But why fiction rather than nonfiction? Because I was told too by the powers that be plus I could heighten the background events behind the action and raise the stakes. I pieced many things together as an adult in hindsight of which I had no knowledge of at the time. It also allowed me to blow up the characters to larger than life and still be grounded in reality from a reader's perspective. That's the key to writing fiction. The reader must have a vested interest in the characters and be able to relate to the action from their point of view.

When I think of all the stories I'd written in nonfiction over the years, this one was the only one that was powerful enough for me to write about as fiction. Everything else paled in comparison. Even the five other novels I'd written couldn't hold a candle to this one.

So when I chose self-publishing, I chose my hardest hitting novel that I'd written to spearhead my break from traditional publishing. My novel writing, as in all of my nonfiction books, is all a piece of me that makes me me. As do all choices in life. I picked Smashwords because I'd heard great things about it in my writer circles. CreateSpace for paperback format rather than Lulu or some others for the same reasons.

Why did I choose to write about a nightmare period in my life... to exorcise the demons in my adversity closet, of course. We all have demons and skeletons in our closets that need to see the light of day, don't we? I yield a sword of light in writing them out into the open. Stab at the skeletons with the light until they evaporate into dust with my pen.

Vijaya, I remember you well and happy you survived when so many didn't. And the tsunami too. Glad to know you are still alright. Thanks for the memories and the smiles. Write again soon. I will keep writing the skeletons out of my over filled closet.

As for the rest of you, you never know who is touched by your writing.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

10 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It was probably therapeutic. Making it fiction probably gave the story just enough distance so you could tell it.

S.P. Bowers said...

Sometimes writing is the only way to make sense of things.

J.L. Murphey said...

I agree with both of you. It was therapeutic and it shed light on a dark period of my life. BTW Vijaya was the butcher's son in the book with a deformed leg.

Dana said...

I agree. Writing things down is so therapeutic.

Shannon Lawrence said...

It sounds like a powerful story. I'm glad you heard from someone who knew the background and the truth behind the story.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

J.L. Murphey said...

Shannon, Yes, I am too. I figured he had died along with the 60,000+ and the many after the tsunami, but apparently he has survived.

Lara Lacombe said...

How great to hear from someone who shared those experiences with you!

Amy said...

Well now, great blog post! It made me want to buy that book and find out what happened!

J.L. Murphey said...

Amy it was 18 months of my life that I truly wished had never happened.

Amy said...

Oh my goodness, wow...In August when I can spend money again I'm buying it 1st thing.