While Looking Out The Window

It is often a joke on social media…

[From my home office window, Dartmouth, Devon, September 13, 2022.]

…but authors do spend a lot of time pausing and thinking and… looking out the window.

Between breaks looking out windows mostly in the Catskills, in Wiltshire, in Hertfordshire, and in Bedfordshire, I have written six books so far. I suppose next it will be here in Devon:

[Devon coastline, near Dartmouth. Photo by me, September 11, 2022.]

For writing must include pausing, observing, and thinking. In doing so, ideas come. Indeed, “lightning” may even strike.

Having in 2017 gotten well into writing what would become Tomorrow The Grace, I remember pausing before my PC during one writing session and having a lazy scroll of Instagram. On the latter, I saw a new post by a Spanish woman tennis star I followed. As I looked next out the window, I felt as if someone had smashed a racket over my head. I berated myself: “You idiot!” Because it hit me I had been writing a tale of the 1790s and the newly independent U.S., and Great Britain and France, that had omitted any reference to the Spanish Empire in the Americas… where following the U.S. example many were starting to question rule from Madrid and even talk of independence, too.

There had been some South American independence activists/fighters who had traveled to the U.S. and, for instance, met with Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, to discuss the possibilities of independence in their homelands and future partnership with the U.S. We tend to forget now, but until the U.S. invasion of Mexico from 1846-48 the U.S. had prior to that been generally admired in Central and South America. It was mostly that war (driven by a desire of white southern U.S. slaveowners to expand to the west and the south), and the “filibusters” of the 1850s (again white Americans and again mostly southerners) invading and messing around in Central America, from which a distrust of Anglo-Americans that often persists to this day came to predominate in the region.

I realized it was a golden opportunity to go where few do in fiction. I went back into the outline and parts I had already written, and reworked it to include…

[From Tomorrow The Grace. On Kindle for iPhone/iPad. Click to enlarge.]

…one “Ana Sánchez,” and her New Granada (what is today basically Colombia and Venezuela) independence activist father, “Diego.”

Capture The Cause was greatly influenced in part from about the beginning of its writing by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s 2020 Belarusian presidential election victory that was stolen by the country’s long-time strongman “Dear Leader” “president” Alexander Lukashenko. Massive street protests that followed in the capital, Minsk, and throughout the country demanding “Dear Leader” give up the office to the elected new president led to him cracking down (with the substantial help of, according to Belarusian Nobel laureate author Svetlana Alexievich, Putinist Russian “black masked” security forces sent across the border), arresting all opposition leaders (Alexievich fled to Germany) and chasing President-elect Tsikhanouskaya into Lithuanian exile. (That 2020 support “Dear Leader” Lukashenko got from Moscow is likely at least partly why his regime actively supports the Russian invasion of Ukraine and why Belarus is considered by the U.S., U.K., and the European Union to be an “ally” of Putin even if in 2020 most Belarusian voters had wanted Lukashenko gone. One does not get to vote out of office a “Dear Leader”… as we Americans nearly learned ourselves on January 6, 2021.) Propped up economically and militarily by Moscow, Lukashenko likely will remain dictator until he dies or until his sponsor Putin is removed.

Following that in the news and seeing the support the Belarusian opposition received from Lithuania and Poland in particular led me to recall how what is today those three countries had in the 1700s been much more closely confederated and even at times one kingdom. By 1795, though, it was a shadow of its former self and what was left of it was divided between Catherine’s Russia and the empires of Austria and Prussia. (Prussia was basically Germany before the Germany we know today.) A decade later, though, after having defeated both Prussia and Austria, French emperor Napoleon “recreated” a smaller “independent” Polish state, and while many Poles were wary most felt they at least now had some semblance of national life albeit under French influence.

Earlier, when the Marquis de Lafayette fled revolutionary France in 1792 and was arrested by Prussia, the Prussians paid no heed to U.S. inquiries about his imprisonment – he was technically an adopted U.S. citizen – because they stated they had no diplomatic relations with the U.S. Gradually, the new U.S. began to try to open relations with governments in central and eastern Europe. Most importantly, after an early outreach to Catherine from 1780-83 back during the war for independence, in 1809 the U.S. sent John Quincy Adams to be its first formal ambassador to imperial Russia.

So it certainly seemed worth working into the new novel aspects of that history. To do that, a major new character again seemed the way to go…

[From Capture The Cause. On Kindle for iPhone/iPad. Click to enlarge.]

…and the result was one “Elżbieta Katarzyna Artamonova,” of Warsaw and Minsk, came into literary existence.

Just two examples, from me, of how you never know from where ideas will come. I am always on the “lookout” for something new even while I am writing and I am not afraid to go back and (even massively) add and/or redo. Because you never know what will suddenly surprisingly lead you to think: “Wow! Fantastic!”

[Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com.]

I am also not one of those able to “churn” out a new novel every “three months” (as I often see others claim on social media; frankly, I would like to read some of those – I cannot believe they are very good books), so I ask for your patience again. There will not be anything new from me for at least a year and probably longer. Until then, though, I hope my six books and two short stories published to date are enough for you until I can complete another new one.

On that note, pardon me while I stop to have another think… and maybe after a lazy scroll of Instagram… and then yet another gaze out of my office window. LOL!

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂

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