Years had passed. Still, the writing muse found me, again. It is true what you’ve heard—that is, when it’s in your blood, you feel it. Everything around me kept pointing me back to writing, even a lunchtime show on National Public Radio (NPR) about a keen writers camp held on a spit of land known to most in the local region as the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on Ocracoke Island.
Ocracoke was a short drive from where I lived in Virginia, so I signed up. ...
Well… the writer’s campus was it, folks. I’d found my tribe. The writer-in-me switch was flipped in earnest, and so began the first draft of All Things Equal. In fact, the opening of the last chapter was the first piece I wrote, sitting alone one morning, watching the Ocracoke Island working watermen leaving port, and wondering—yes, wondering. If imagination is the sign of good writer, I will admit, I have a boatload. I felt the weathered dock scratching my butt, the sun, fresh like a shower on my skin, and began to drink in the characteristic Carolina phraseology. And, I imagined.
In the weeks that followed, I did what felt right—I wrote the entire first draft. Later, I realized this was a part of my process--pooping out (a technical phrase I use often when it comes to processes) a full draft without care and worry about the details. I was that kid again—leaving Ms. Hall’s classroom and headed for a summer filled with excitement and ready to put pen to paper (At that point, I still wrote the text in longhand, as my creative brain needed a firm connection to paper).
Next came the search for details…a sometimes fun and sometime harrowing adventure for a person such as I am—a hands-on learner, not an internet junky. I began my fact finding mission in Ocracoke and befriended several watermen. I worked my way up the coastline into Wanchese, North Carolina, then into Virginia to Virginia Beach, Newport News, and, finally, to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and up toward the Middle Peninsula of Virginia, where I found the inspiration for the fictional town of Guineaport. I asked question after question, and wanted to see and touch, taste and feel, and at one point even make and use the tools used in pound netting, oyster raking, and crab potting (by the way, the term working watermen means exactly what it says—hard work, long days, little money, and a lot of danger in the job). I blended this knowledge with my skills and training as a psychotherapist and investigator. I also jumped headlong into every writing conference, workshop, or event I could manage to get to, including several more camps on Ocracoke Island (the rough drafts of the next two Lu Garcia Mysteries were penned there over a period of the next couple of years). Craft became my obsession; gleaning details became a part of the process; imagining, my daily workout.
Author Crystal C. Coombes
I'm a lover of mystery fiction, chocolates, homeless canines and Latin ballroom dancing. Here I'll share a bit about myself and what I'm thinking. Join me to learn about some of those times I remember — that might even become a part of my next novel — the things we all wonder about, and the best method to brew an authentic cup of English breakfast tea.
"All Things Equal" review:
"A gun, a girl and something to prove. Lu Garcia plunges into a closed community with murder on its mind. A fast-paced and satisfying read!" ~Karen Jones, author, speaker and broadcast journalist. Kjwriter.com