How I Got the Idea for My Book

Dad, Lucinda, Mom
Dad, Lucinda, Mom

“If you want your children to be trustworthy, you have to trust them.” –James Calvin Sage

“People who hurt others are wounded themselves. They think hurting others will help them feel better, but that never works. It makes them feel worse. The only way to help them heal is to love them.” –James Calvin Sage

When authors are interviewed, they are almost always asked, “How did you get the idea for your book?” I’m about to publish my first novel, The Space Between Time, and I’ve been thinking about the answer to that question. The answer is: I wrote it for my Dad.

I started the book in 1999 after a visit to my parents. They lived in Quartzsite, Arizona at the time. My father had his first open heart surgery in the mid-80s and though I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that he would die of the disease one day, up until that trip, he had seemed much the same as he’d always been. That weekend I knew that he’d taken a turn for the worse.

On the five hour drive home, the idea for the book formed in my mind. I wanted to write about a father and daughter and their close relationship. I also wanted to have the twist of a character in the present with some connection to father and daughter but that storyline was very unclear to me.

When Barry and I got home, I sat down at the computer and began writing the storyline that was most vivid, the one set in 1858 Vermont with Morgan and her father Thomas. Of course, the character of Thomas Carlyle was designed after my Dad. In tribute to him, I gave him the professions he would have loved, minister, scholar, writer and teacher. Though, in a way those professions did describe my Dad. His daytime job was as a machinist, but he was a lay minister in our church as well. And even though he’d dropped out of school because of undiagnosed dyslexia, he taught himself to read, which he did voraciously. My father was infinitely curious about everything. So, in a way, he was very much like Thomas Carlyle.

The other things that I incorporated into Thomas that were like my Dad, was his wanderlust, and a deep love and understanding of his fellow human beings. Though Thomas hadn’t traveled a great deal, he wanted to travel west to build a new life. Unfortunately, he fell ill, making the trip impossible for him. He does, however, encourage Morgan to make the journey on her own and build a new life for herself. That’s very much like my dad. He was always encouraging us to go do things he’d never been able to do himself.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, shortly after I started the book, I had to set it aside because I began teaching full-time. So the book sat unfinished for eleven years. In the mean time, things happened to me that helped me understand how to write the timeline in the present. Also, my father died in 2004. That was ten years ago this month. It’s fitting that the novel that he inspired is now nearly ready for publication. I’ve got a better perspective on my relationship with my Dad, what I learned from him and how those lessons helped me navigate some deeply challenging times in my own life. I’m grateful to have had him as my father. I know he’d be proud of my accomplishment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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