Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How posterity might see us

We often wonder, as writers, how our readers see us. We wonder what they might think of our way with words, our ability to tell a rollicking story. How do readers think we come up with the fabricated murders, deaths, disasters, trials and tribulations through which we put our poor protagonists? When we write of neglected gardens, dusty rooms, burnt dinners and lost keys, do they think we base our fiction on the truths in our own lives? When we write about drunken uncles, forgetful mothers, cruel sublings, and sorrowful aunts, do they think we base our characters on real relatives?

Authors have always felt under scrutiny by their public. They leave memoirs that show a depth of concern, a deep lack of confidence in their own ability to make up a story and have it believed for what it is - pure fiction.
It's not only authors who feel they might be viewed in a bad light because of what they do. Actors who take on the parts of antagonists, of characters who commit awful deeds, of frivolous socialites, of greedy businessmen, of pirates who slice off hostages' heads without a blink, often wonder whether audiences think they are capable of such dastardly deeds.
Anyone who puts pen to paper, though, knows of the power of the written word to persuade. Winston Churchill knew the feeling. He did have an eye on the future, and on generations in posterity that might question  his motives, his judgement, and his ability to strategize and act out perfect diplomacy with a big international D. It was the kind of questioning he knew would happen, so he found a way around it.
'History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.' He wrote. Ah - that's one way of doing it. When the diplomat, the strategist and the quintesssential politician write the history books themselves, the written word cannot fail them. History is kind to those who take their own deeds into their own pen as ink.
This is what comes to mind when I think of my own as yet unwritten memoirs or autobiography. It is the vainest undertaking in the world, one might think. But it is a powerful thing to leave nothing to chance and make sure history is kind to the author, because the author has made sure the history is written in a certain way.
What do you think?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What to expect from one of my novels

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When it comes to fiction, I try to give my readers what they have come to expect: an adventure of the mind, coupled with action and intrigue. Art is to be found, references to history, and some other artistic or intellectual undertaking that embroiders an intricate story.
The story is the thing, of course - it takes up threads of the human condition readers recognise: those they have experienced, those they would like to, and those they hope will never happen to them. The story unfolds in my novels to reveal obstacles and incidents that require solutions.
And it's solutions that people always seek - we all need at least one solution a day for something that intrigues, baffles, annoys, defeats or requires us to pit our resources against 'the world'. An easy solution for everything would be just the thing!
Solutions that are too easy, however, don't satisfy in fiction. The author needs to send characters over hurdles, against proverbial brick walls, toward the near-impossible. Satisfaction comes from one or two intrepid characters facing their fate with grit, determination, and not a little presence of mind. Satisfaction comes from seeing all ends tied in a way that a reader finds resourceful, unusual ... but always applicable to how they see life. It's got to be feasible. It must feel right.
In The Hidden Auditorium, my latest offering, it was hard to come up with a predicament that required all this, but a good brainstorming session, a lot of reading and research - not to mention quite a lot of rewriting and planning - did the job. My protagonist has a first-world modern dilemma in an ancient city: Rome. He is fed up with a superficial life and seems to need something deeper: a quandary many find themselves in, somewhere in mid-life. He doesn't know what's wrong, exactly - but the reader senses it almost immediately: he misses a meaningful relationship, and hopefully might find one before the end.
Reading a story that contains a number of apparently insuperable problems is excellent entertainment. It's distraction from real life, where solutions do not present themselves so easily, even if our problems are not as drastic as being held at knife-point, or being trussed up with cable-ties at the back of a car. And that's what readers seek: something drastic and sticky enough to distract them from ordinary mundane matters, such as the latest power bill or a burnt pizza.
If you are a reader who likes intrigue, tell me what you like to find in fiction.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's out

The Hidden Auditorium was a hard novel to write. The research alone took months. The writing of it went through several phases, because of the choices and options that kept presenting themselves.

Now that the novel has passed all stages of production, which - as an indie author - I have had to plan, execute, and manage myself, I am exhausted. There is hardly energy left to promote its release.

I had magnificent, generous help in the creation of this new novel, my fourth. My partner in life and first reader was as ever insightful and brilliant, hacking out of my first poor efforts for story and plot a very interesting angle which evolved into a cogent and clever whole. Using that plan, I worked hard and tried a few new methods of creation. Some worked, others were discarded for old habits.

My handful of beta-readers were sharp, observant, and revealed how well they know my writing. Without them, The Hidden Auditorium would not be as nicely-detailed or free from the small flaws any author fails to see in their own work.

Gratitude and appreciation go to my editor Shane McCauley, who spent hours reading, thinking, and marking the manuscript. His wide cultural knowledge, love of music, and especially his grasp of the underlying premise of the novel, were invaluable. Nothing beats first-hand knowledge of locations, subject matter, and fundamental culture, so I feel my selection of editor succeeded on all these aspects. Then there is the matter of language usage ... no author can claim to know it all, which is where a good editor is needed. The Hidden Auditorium reads so well only because Shane had a hand in it.

So it's out, available ... there. What remains to be seen is how readers take it on. The first few reviews will tell.

If you are an author, please share the feelings that arise when you first release a new novel.

If you're a reader, have you ever paid mind to what might go through an author's mind when they publish a new book?