I’ve been struggling (once again) to put the final touches on what I think is the final book of my Stealing the Sun series, so I took a few days and went back to read the last few volumes of the series. We’ll see if that helps. It was a good process in that it reminded me I need to focus more on the characters and less on what they do. If you’ve written before, you know what I mean. To know your characters is to let them live.
At the same time, I’m reading the completed draft of Brigid’s last book in her Songbird River Chronicles series, which is a really nice piece of work in what I’ll call a Clockwork/Steampunk/Fantasy genre. If you’ve read the first three books, you know what I mean. They are a little hard to define.
Reading Brigid’s work is a fun experience, really. In a lot of ways, it’s more interesting today than it was some time ago. In the old days it was fun to read her merely because she was so new—and yet so good. There was this “oh, my God, look what we’ve created!” kind of thing there. Now it’s different. This is book four. I know her characters, and I find myself drawing into them in a deeper way, forgetting who the writer is and just letting her have her way with my brain. I was thinking about that last night because it’s this way with her shorter work that I read, too. I’m not reading Brigid anymore—not reading my daughter. Instead, I’m reading just reading fiction. Which is pretty cool.
Except, of course, I’ll admit I’m a dad and that every now and again I poke my head up from the water’s surface and think “holy crap, Brigid wrote this.”
Or, every now and again, something happens like a night or so ago …
… when I was sitting in the living room reading her work—which is truly delightful. Brigid’s voice is coming in, and she has this way with the characters in this book that makes me happy reading about them. And Lisa is sitting beside me working on a crochet project she’s recently gotten into. And, as I’m reading this book that is titled The Dark Ways, yet is still so delightful at the right delightful times, on the Radio Paradise feed that we listen to comes a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” made by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole.
You know the one I’m talking about. Ukelele. Simple voice that soars above.
And as I’m reading this work by Brigid and as the song plays I’m struck by the memory of the vacation when she was maybe three years old, and where, in the back seat of our mini-van together, my dad taught her to sing that song, and of her so sincere three-year-old voice belting out the refrain as we rumbled down the highway. I remember it was hot that day. We were heading to Florida. And when Brigid learned the song she sang it. And sang it. And sang it again, over and over for so long that my dad started to complain about it.
When the memory strikes, I stop a minute and listen to the voice, remembering. Then, I go back to the words on the page.
And in that time, I think to myself what a wonderful world.