Novel Ideas

Where did the idea for Butterfly come from?
That is how it happens…a news article, a stranger’s reminiscences, a song that sticks in my head and causes me to wonder what pain or joy the composer felt when it was written. The images, words, sounds coalesce and I start to form the story.

Butterfly was born very much like this. I love music, I’m a musician. Irish music, art, literature and culture are part of my DNA. For years a particular tune, a slip jig, The Butterfly, has been a favorite. I believe I first heard it as a flute piece. It is used in a film that touched my Irish soul, The Secret of Roan Inis. This gave me a focal point for my character, a theme to carry across the story, a sort of glue to hold the bits together. The theme also describes Flannery, the heroine in my story. “She was a butterfly, flitting from blade of grass to flower without a plan, joy and passion her only map.”

My husband and I raised a houseful of sons. They were exposed to music from the womb…literally. I would sing to my unborn child, play music, have a record on the stereo (back in the days of vinyl!) It seemed a natural progression to write a story about a family deeply steeped in musical tradition. The three Sloane siblings: Flannery, Tynan and Kerry were born from the seeds of imagination, but they have their roots in my memory as well.

I love stories that encompass family dynamics in a positive way. Each person, even born and raised by the same parents, in the same global environment, will have unique personality traits and values. A film that played in my head while coming up with the idea for Butterfly was Big Night. Two brothers, one with business sense, the other the artist/chef, open a restaurant. The theme is one of those “seven stories”…two people taking different paths to the same end.

In Butterfly, Flannery is the dreamer, the artist/music purest, she doesn’t care if she eats her next meal, buys a new dress or meets Mr. O’Perfect. At the beginning of the story, her music is her soul mate, in the Irish, it is her Anam Cara.

Butterfly, the first book in The Fadό Trilogy, a contemporary romantic comedy, is available now in paperback and digital formats. The second book in this trilogy is Angel’s Share, a romantic suspense that takes the reader from the pubs of Dublin to the dark and dangerous streets of South Boston. It is set to release March 2010. The third story in this series is Selkie’s Song. It is my work in progress and takes Tynan Sloane back to the land of his birth, Ireland, for a romantic tumble in this magical tale.

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The long and winding path….

The rocky path. Skellig Michael, Kerry, Ireland

The long and winding path to publishing my first novel moved at a very rapid pace for me…if I don’t count the decades when my stories waited, in my imagination, for me to sit down and put them to paper. (In my case “paper” is always virtual…I have never written more than notes and ideas on actual paper).
Four years ago I decided I really could write a novel. I bought myself a laptop, sat down, put the foot rest up on the recliner in my bedroom and started to write. I wrote for a month and came out with a book…from beginning to end about four hundred pages. It really did have a plot, a beginning, middle and an incredibly cheesy end.
Then I panicked. Was this my only story? So, I wrote three more that year. Butterfly was number four. The difference with Butterfly was that I wrote for a specific market…romance. I played by the rules. I had a definite goal—to be published. Still, Butterfly is unique, my voice, my style, my imagination. Notice I said I wrote to a goal, not a formula. If anyone tries to tell you they have a formula and if you just follow the simple rules and fill in the blanks you will have a novel…thank them but don’t write a check for their workshop. If writing were that easy everyone would be published. If your story doesn’t beg to be told, hammer on the insides of your cranium until you let it out, haunt you until you are talking to your characters out loud in public (well, this might not happen to all of us…I might just be a little crazy.) then, it won’t keep your reader up at night either.
One of the questions I am often asked by unpublished writers is something like…isn’t it a terrible feeling to have an editor tell you to change, cut or delete a scene in your book…your baby? My simple answer is “no.”
I’ll tell you why. The business of publishing is just that…a business. You may be the next James Joyce, but an agent or editor doesn’t care unless he or she can sell your work and make a profit. That, dreamers out there, is the bottom line. This fact does not have to stop you from being a great writer, a creative writer.
If you really want to be published: write the best you can, finish what you start, know your market and write to that market and, most important, do it because it is your heart’s desire.
My books are available from my website http://www.clareaustin.com Go to the “Books” page for the buy link.

Britches full of stitches

No…not torn jeans. I learned two new fiddle tunes today…Bill Sullivan’s Polka and Britches full of stitches. I love fiddlin’!