Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aha! Moments

Life is a journey filled with self-discovery. (If that isn't a well-known quote, it sure sounds like it could be, doesn't it?). Without getting specific about my age--ahem--I'll just state that I feel I've got enough years under my belt now to have a clear idea of who I am.

Yet, just the other day, I was caught off-guard by a question posed to me in an author interview regarding the launch of my new free short story about the Estilorians, The Prophecy. The question observed that the story has a strong theme of faith (in oneself, in friends, in the unknown) woven throughout, and the interviewer asked if I had planned it that way. (If you'd like to read the interview, please check it out here).

This might seem like a straightforward question. The interviewer read the story before drafting the questions, and this particular theme caught her attention. Simple. What surprised me, however, wasn't that she asked that question...but that I'd had no idea that theme was so prevalent in the story. Wow.

It got me thinking. And I've since come to realize that this theme of believing in oneself as well as others and using that faith to overcome obstacles isn't just in The Prophecy. It's in nearly everything I write.

How did I get through thirty--er, we'll leave it at that--years without knowing this about my writing style?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a positive person by nature. In fact, I tend to drive my more "realistic" family members and friends nuts by always pointing out the bright side and rarely focusing on the negative. So the fact that my books present characters who overcome challenges is understandable. Indeed, that's the basis of writing most fiction!

But I'm not a gal who attends church every week; in fact, I'm not religious at all. At best, I could be considered a "spiritual" person. Thus, reading the interview question asking about the theme of faith in The Prophecy (yes, I'm now aware of how even the title ties into this theme), made me scratch my head and wonder just how well I really know myself.

The bottom line is that the theme of faith IS in the short story. It's also an under-riding theme in my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy and the forthcoming Firstborn trilogy. And I was absolutely unaware of that theme when I wrote them. It was an "Aha!" moment, to say the least.

I'm curious to know if there are any writers out there who have experienced this. Is there a subtle theme to your writing, maybe one of which you were previously unaware? What is it about your various works that unifies them? Are you surprised by this?

And readers, are there any books that you feel contain secondary themes the author(s) might not have intended or realized? How did this impact your decision to read other books by that author?

Let me know I'm not alone in this voyage of self-discovery...


  1. A very interesting article!

    I came to realize this myself, recently, though the theme that binds together my work is a bit less..."happy". My protagonists often seem to struggle with issues of isolation and solitude. Whatever their superlative story-related goals are, they are often gripped by a fear (often without even realizing it) of being alone.

    The theme of togetherness and wishing to bond with others like you, especially in times of crisis, is really just a variation on the notion of "brothers in arms" (which makes sense, since my books more or less fall into the "military sci-fi/fantasy" category), but I found it interesting that so many of my characters seem driven by a need to belong, especially since I consider myself something of a hermit. (Immediate family notwithstanding, of course.)

    I guess the recurrence of that theme is telling, eh? ;D

  2. Isn't it amazing what themes can come out in our writing?! I always end up writing about equality. No matter how much I try changing things up, that always comes out somehow. Your books sound amazing--and those covers--I luv 'em!

  3. I am always amazed by how many threads end up in my writing that I don't intend. I would like to think that is a sign of a good writer, but maybe it just means I am sloppy. ;-) Interesting article!

  4. Thanks, everyone, for letting me know I'm not alone in this! Stephen, that is really fascinating, and you're right that it sounds like your underlying theme ties in very well with your genre. Elisabeth, thanks for the kind comments...your theme of equality is a terrific one in my book! And Brett, being the positive person I am, I'll go with the former thought that it's a sign we're all good writers!

  5. I just read J.R Wagner's blog about how music made his writing darker or lighter...he uses soundtracks. I had the same discovery, when i realized certain soundtracks annoyed me rather than helped me in the flow. And theme is very subtle. The things that most define us in our real lives somehow slip into our writing. I am not a practicing "christian" per se, but I found myself writing about an angel for the last 6 months. Thanks for writing about this. Cheers.