. . . by Karna Small Bodman
The verses were pretty “sappy” (well, really sappy) – but since we all are sharing life experiences here – I’ll go ahead and give you a sample of that early scribbling:
You ask – how do I love you? Please let me count the ways.
I love you as the stars love nights and rainbows love the days.
I love you as the eagle loves the sky in which to soar
Or as the rosebud loves the Spring and then, so much, much more.
I love you as a beachcomber must love the blazing sun
Or as the brand new champion – the title he has won….
And it went on from there. But note — I was only 14! I have to admit that I have always been a sucker for romance, in film (love the Hallmark Movie Channel) as well as in novels. While I did end up writing dozens of (hopefully better) poems for friends and family birthdays, anniversaries, and even memorial services, I didn’t have time to even think about writing a book during my career in broadcasting or serving in The White House. In both of those jobs, I was writing “non-fiction” (if you can call every news story “non-fiction” – at least we tried our best). And there was always a premium on brevity — writing a 20 second live, or short narration for B-roll. At the White House, I had to put together briefing papers for the Press Secretary (I was his Deputy at the time) and later talking points for President Reagan. (Imagine outlining our Middle East policy in a one-pager! I had to do that while also writing summaries of dozens of other domestic and foreign policy positions as preparation for his press conferences).
After I left The White House I did think about writing a novel. Once again, I admit my first endeavors revolved around romance. In fact, I sat down and wrote two romance novels titled The Corporate Wife (had experience in that role) and Built to Code (having just finished building our vacation house). I went to writers’ conferences and learned I had to snag an agent. Alas, after dozens of attempts and dozens of “I’m sorry but this story does not fit my list” replies, I shoved both manuscripts under the bed and started over.
Now it was time to get serious. And reflecting again on the advice all authors hear, “Write what you know,” I wrote my first political thriller complete with familiar scenes inside the Oval Office, Roosevelt Room, State Dining Room, Situation Room – all over the complex I came to call “the most
protected 18 acres on the planet” (except for a few fence jumpers now and then). I was so impressed with one of President Reagan’s new policies — the announcement of his “Strategic Defense Initiative” (missile defense or “Star Wars”) — I knew I wanted to write a story about it. So I created a character, Dr. Cameron Talbot, who works for a defense contractor and invents a breakthrough technology for a defense against cruise missiles. (And no, my protagonist is not me in disguise. She’s much smarter). The title is CHECKMATE, and in this novel, as in all of my subsequent books, certain aspects of the stories ended up coming true (which, as I believe I’ve mentioned in previous posts, kind of freaks me out).
The next story was inspired by experiences I had traveling throughout the Far East (Manila, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo) to give speeches on behalf of the President. It focuses on a different threat to our national security, different villains, along with several continuing characters. The title of that one is GAMBIT. (And many years later when we had an addition to the family, we named him after that book.)
Number three, FINAL FINESSE, was, once again created when I reflected on another White House adventure. This time to South America. Then my latest thriller, CASTLE BRAVO, was “born” when a Major General explained what really kept him up at night – the threat of an Electro Magnetic Pulse – or “EMP” attack.
When I gave a talk about it to a terrific book club here in Florida last week, I entertained many of those same questions I mentioned at the outset, including “When did you know you wanted to be a writer?” I smiled and thought about sitting at my desk here in Naples, doing research, creating characters and writing chapters while enjoying a chance to stay cool in my office. Yet I was still able to gaze out my window at a lovely view. So I replied, in half-jest, “I guess it was when I figured out I have a love affair with the indoors.”
|View from my desk|
Now, what do you think? Can you answer the first question: “Are writers born or developed over time?” Please leave a comment below. All of my Rogue colleagues would enjoy reading your answers.
. . . submitted by Karna Small Bodman