Hello readers! Please give a warm welcome to today’s guest post by Carrie Salo, author of The Sounding. She’s written a fabulous post about her inspiration behind her debut novel.
Carrie thank you so much for being with us today!!
Hello my fellow Book Addicts! I hope each of you received a nice stack of all new books over the holidays to feed your addiction. I am pretty excited by my own pile, including: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, and Brain Rush by Richard Bard. Perhaps my new novel The Sounding even made it into a few of your hands? If not, that’s what Amazon and Kindle gift cards are for!
As a new author, one of the most surprising things I have discovered is how curious many people are about the idea behind a book – even a fiction book. “Where did you come up with that?” “What made you want to learn about that?” “What inspired you to envision it this way?” There seems to be a great fascination as to how a fiction writer’s imagination works – and often the assumption that it must be a remarkably orderly thing in order to organize itself into a novel. I am always a bit hesitant to admit that my inspiration is an odd love story between meticulous research and editing – and fanciful disarray.
Though I write supernatural fiction, research is still a huge part of how I get my story. I want to know about relevant real places, real time periods…I like to dig for plot elements large and small. I found the idea for The Sounding while taking a religious studies class at college. We were reading the Bible as if it were a piece of literature. We took it apart theme by theme, just as you would in any English class. And two themes kept coming up for me again and again, because they simply don’t go together: prophecy and free will. Many things that happen in the Bible are prophetic – they are fated. And yet, the Bible gives each of us the free will to make our own choices, sometimes, even at the expense of prophecy. Eve in the Garden of Eden, of course, is an obvious example, but there are many others. So, when we came to the final prophecy (which leads up to Armageddon) and began discussing it, I couldn’t help but ask: what if we could change it or make it happen early with our own choices? And that’s what The Sounding is all about.
Grounded in real history and real prophecy, The Sounding takes everyday events in today’s world and manipulates them to bring on the circumstances of the last prophecy in the book of Revelation. Besides taking a Biblical studies class, I read dozens of books on Catholicism, Judaism and Israeli History. The Sounding, I feel, is truly a book about both good and evil. So, my research had to include both sides. I read the Bible and its counter – The Apocrypha (those books that were once a part of the Bible but were eventually banned/discounted). I read through books that catalogued the angels, as well as demons. I discovered spells reportedly spoken by Moses. I read of demons that would supposedly appear if I so much as whispered their name (I did not…). I even traveled to the Vatican where I gained access to the underground catacombs that the Church is built right on top of. I tried to immerse myself in as much history as I could in order to bring it to life in my pages.
But once the research is done, I like to leave formal structure behind. The actual writing itself is highly unorderly, and sometimes almost random. I do not sit with large outlines, character sketches, or even detailed notes about what I want a scene to be like. If I planned out the whole book before I wrote it, I am afraid it would trap me to follow only those initial thoughts. Instead, I like to keep the plot and even the characters loose and fluid. As the story evolves, everything else should be evolving too. The most natural way to do that (at least for me) is not to plan it – let it happen. That’s not to say that the manuscript is not carefully edited (for me – writing and editing are two totally separate processes). When the storytelling ends and I put on my editor’s hat, my classic Ivy League university education takes over and I eventually bring order to the dark creativity. When I write a novel, I want everything – the plot, the characters, the settings, the writing and the research – to work together seamlessly. I never want the reader to see what’s going on “behind the curtain.” For me, it’s all about taking you away for some deep thrills, and that means getting past any glitches produced by an unorthodox writing style. The Sounding went through seven drafts before hitting the shelves. I expect my next novel to do the same. But I also expect it to go through that free-flowing, just follow-the-story imagining that inspired me to make writing my life’s work in the first place.
So, if you are ever curious about where I came up with anything in particular, feel free to ask, but expect a winding answer. I am a pretty frequent Facebook poster, and I would love to hear from you as you read on a scene-specific or character-specific question. Seriously – ask away! Just be prepared for something that goes, “first I heard about this, and then I read more about this, and then there was this, and then there was this other thing… and then I traveled there…and then…”