I’m hosting a guest post today for Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacqueléne Dyanne, Volume One. The author talks about writing fiction from memory. Without further ado, I’ll step aside and leave the talking to author Valerie C. Woods.
Writing Fiction from Memory
When looking at the past what often comes to mind are the highlights — personal ones, as well as those considered historical.
When I look back at my own childhood the historical highlights run side by side with vibrant personal memories. Such a memory was the spark for “Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacqueléne Dyanne, Vol. 1.”
This favored recollection happened more than forty years ago. It was one of those magical summer vacation days on the South Side of Chicago and my elder sister decided we would go on an adventure. She packed provisions in a brown paper lunch bag and proceeded to lead me on a trek to distant lands. Under her direction and narration our neighborhood street became an alluring foreign metropolis. The vacant lot transformed from a wasteland of overgrown weeds sprouting throughout the concrete remains of a demolished building into a lush jungle, and then a desert where we found an oasis in which to rest and consume our rations.
Yes, in the broader spectrum of 1968 the world was experiencing mammoth shifts of social consciousness. And yet amidst the turmoil, it was still possible for two young girls to thrive and relish a life of imagination. And it was perhaps critical that they did so. Transformation is never easy, for individuals or society. It can begin subtly and then, as it progresses, it often becomes turbulent, violent and frightening, with moments of calm, assured grace, mystery and beauty.
The stories in Katrin’s Chronicles take place during a pivotal time in the 20th century. In writing the stories, it was very helpful to research historical timelines. What was happening at home during those Summer Olympics? Did we watch them? Speaking with family members also reminded me of things I’d forgotten. While “history” was being made, kids still played softball, did their homework and argued with friends and siblings. And though these same kids may not have been directly involved, these history-making events impacted their attitudes, conversations, and worldview, even if that world was just their own neighborhood.
There is never just one side to the story of history. And, really, how could there be? We may all live on the same planet, but we each experience and interpret the shared events of the world through our own personal lens. The facts are straightforward and simple. The history — the personal and the universal — is fascinating…depending on who tells the story.
About the Book
Author: Valerie C. Woods
Genre: Psychic Girl Detectives, Middle Grade
On the verge of entering high school, precociously eloquent 13 -year-old Katrin DuBois feels it’s never too soon to start an autobiography. She decides to set the record straight about the outrageous rumors concerning certain adventures that began when she was in sixth grade. That’s when her elder sister, 8th grader J. Dyanne, began exhibiting extraordinary detecting skills, and emerging psychic abilities.
Set during the latter half of 1968, these African-American tweens live in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. They manage to thrive in a world of social change with multi-generational family support, creative quick-thinking and fearless inquisitiveness. The dog days of August find them prohibited by their parents from visiting the Central Library downtown because of the riots during the Democratic Convention. However, there’s plenty of adventure in their own neighborhood as they become swept up in family mysteries, neighborhood political schemes and the discovery of a surprising legacy of psychic, even supernatural, talent.
Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacqueléne Dyanne, expands the girl detective genre to include these smart, sister sleuths.
An avid reader while growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Ms. Woods began writing when, as a struggling actress in New York, she couldn’t find suitable audition material for women of color. This led her to write a book of audition monologues, Something for Everyone (50 Original Monologues). The book was initially self-published and is now published by renowned theatrical play publisher, Samuel French, Inc. (http://www.VCWoods.com)
After adapting an average play into a better screenplay, Ms. Woods was awarded a Walt Disney Screenwriting Fellowship and followed that up with writing and producing on network and cable drama series such as Under One Roof, Touched By An Angel, Promised Land, Any Day Now and Soul Food.
But fiction, her first love, compelled her to enter the world of prose. She had always written bits of fiction, short stories and a little poetry here and there.
In November 2012, Ms. Woods founded a micro -press: BooksEndependent, LLC (http://www.BooksEndependent .com) to support her work and the work of other new, independent authors of fiction and non-fiction.
The first title was Ms. Woods’ novella, I Believe … A Ghost Story for the Holidays . (Amazon.com) Then, what began as a gift became her second publication.
Several years ago, needing a birthday present for her sister Ms. Woods wrote a short story about a girl detective — a highly fictionalized autobiography of the adventures she and her sister experienced in childhood. Another story was written for Christmas, then one for Mother’s Day. That’s when Ms. Woods realized she was writing the kind of novel she and her sister would have loved to read as children, but which didn’t exist – the adventures of African-American Girl Detectives!
The result, Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacqueléne Dyanne, Vol. 1 is now available in paperback and Kindle edition at Amazon.com.