True Stories Inspire My Writing

Author Elena Clark is inspired by the real life experiences of people she knows. Her stories are often based on their true stories.

Is there anything more fascinating and bizarre than real life? Let me tell you how I become inspired to write…it has a lot to do with the true stories people tell me in my travels.

My novel Tales of Transmigration – Rivkah and Olga features the story of two antagonists, two women who came from the same background and similar humble beginnings, but their choices in life couldn’t have been more contrasting.  Rivkah adopted her heritage religion and the traditions of her ancestors as a core foundation governing all her decisions. Olga abandoned all such considerations on the very day she left the house of her parents. While Rivkah dedicated her life to her family no matter how much sacrifice and hardship she had to go through, Olga preferred a life of luxury and complacency. She was perpetually finding the rationalizations that sanctioned her actions. But sometimes the seemingly minor accommodations ultimately result in a consequential betrayal…

In my follow up novel, Tales of Transmigration (Book 2) – Sisters,  I wanted to illustrate the kind of real friendship between two women that transcends time and distance and can survive the most unfavorable conditions. And throughout this story I was posing a common theme: whether the end justifies the means. Raya was one of those women who, when she found herself in a critical life situation, decided that the end does indeed justify the means – and then for years afterwards she was compelled to live with the dire consequences of her critical decision. By way of contrast, I introduce another character, the unwavering and fundamentally honest Alexander, who would not sacrifice his integrity and high standards under any circumstances. Life is often more challenging for people like that, but the world would be so much worse off in the absence of any of those Alexanders.

I once knew a woman who was presented with an ultimatum from her boyfriend that she must give up custody of one of the two children from her first marriage as a condition for their future relationship. The result was that she left her five-year-old daughter with her first husband and didn’t even communicate with that young girl for many years. Being the unabashed ‘mother-hen’ sort of person, I grappled with but totally failed to understand the rationale for such a critical decision. I had to write a novel, just to get into the head of a mother who would give up her child for a man…any man. Until I finally sat down and wrote Blind Love and Faith, I couldn’t get over it.

As I have continued writing I have come to realize an exceptional outcome: the plots and sub-plots tend to get away from the original intentions of the author. Or is it possible that’s only the case with me? The heroes begin to live their own lives, absent my influence, and I am left with simply recording their stories. It’s a fascinating process!

For example, in Tales – Rivkah and Olga, I needed to make a point that at the end of her life, Olga is absolutely alone because, in my opinion, she didn’t deserve any better fate. So, I introduced her son, just a nice person who became my favorite character and his role in the story expanded. When I had to make some drastic decisions about his future, I was struggling with myself for days, my blood pressure went up, my heart was aching, and then the decision was taken and I wrote it down.

When I write a novel, I truly live within the story too. This was very much the case in Music of the Wandering Stars. I felt the pain and heartaches of the characters I had created. They became incredibly life-like and real to me! I struggled with their decisions, I became angry at them for doing something silly or stupid, and yet I intuitively knew beforehand what they would ultimately do in certain situations, so it felt as though I was just the scribe who was recording the events and the consequences as they transpired.

I personally know a woman who became highly successful and widely recognized in her field – you could say she is a celebrity, and yet her first husband almost destroyed her. When they immigrated to Canada he informed her that she must abandon her foolish aspirations related to her training and talent, and that it was time to get a real job. That enormously talented woman was doing the most mundane of jobs until her divorce. Her second husband instilled a whole new level of confidence in her, supporting her in every way, and thus she blossomed and realized her full potential, perhaps even beyond her own dreams.

This was the source of the inspiration that led to my decision to write this book. Music of the Wandering Stars is a story about a woman that was almost destroyed in her first marriage and emerged as a star with the unflinching support of her second husband.

Basically, this is how I’m writing – I take an idea or event, or draw upon an interesting relationship from real life, analyze it, and then seek to apply my own creativity in composing the story. While similar situations may have happened in real life, the cast is mine and the events and outcomes in the book are the product of my own imagination.

Put simply, I love writing. It stopped being my hobby a long time ago and has become a necessary part of my life.

My greatest hope and dream is that you would enjoy reading my novels as much as I enjoy writing them.

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