Friday, August 29, 2014

When Reality and Fiction Collide

I’d like to share an experience I had after finishing my novel Hailey’s Comments. I’d made a goal to query fifty agents and after a few weeks the rejection letters were flying in, each bringing a blow to my fragile ego. My friends own successful businesses, they teach in schools, run preschools, take in foster children- I write stories no one reads.

We were vacationing in the San Juan Islands with my husband’s family. I hadn’t written anything in weeks. When we visited Victoria, BC I knew I had to see Craigdarroch Castle. 
My novel, Hailey’s Comments takes place on a fictional island in the Pacific Northwest. The Dunsmuir home is a stone Victorian mansion, complete with turret and a widow’s walk that overlooks the ocean. In my novel the family matriarch, Helen, is murdered by her grandson, James Dunsmuir.

In Victoria, high on a hill, stands Craigdarroch Castle, but it’s not a castle with ramparts and moat. It’s a stone Victorian mansion complete with turret and a widow’s walk overlooking the ocean. It looks exactly as I’d envisioned my fictional Dunsmuir home. I stood outside on the grounds marveling. When I went upstairs, I read that the home was built by Robert Dunsmuir and after his death became the property of his widow, Joan. Joan and her son James, who shares my villain’s name, had a stormy relationship and were estranged for many years.

Until that day, I’d never visited Victoria, to my recollection I hadn’t any prior knowledge of the city’s prominent families or of Craigdarroch Castle. I’d never heard of the Dunsmuir family. As I stood on the Castle’s widow’s walk and watched the ships moving along the water, I felt a hand resting on my shoulder, pressing me forward, urging me to continue to write my dreams.

(My apologies to the Dunsmuir family. In reality, James was most likely a perfectly lovely person and if he had reasons for being estranged from his mother, I'm absolutely sure it's not because he murdered his grandmother.)

George Albert Smith said, “We are living eternal lives. Eternity doesn’t begin after this life but mortality is a crucial part of eternity. I sometimes have said to my friends when they seemed to be at the crossroads, uncertain as to which way they wanted to go, ‘Today is the beginning of eternal happiness or eternal disappointment for you.’ Our comprehension of this life is that it is eternal life—that we are living in eternity today as much as we ever will live in eternity. the intelligence that God has placed within it, that which has power to reason and to think, that which has power to sing and to speak, knows no death; it simply passes from this sphere of eternal life, and awaits This life is not given to us as a pastime. There was a solemn purpose in our creation, in the life that God has given to us. Let us study what that purpose is, that we may progress and obtain eternal life.”

Does this mean that I will become a bestselling author or that you will become an American Idol superstar? Probably not, but I can write, and I can create novels in every spare second I can find, and when someone  takes the time to tell me they loved my stories and characters—it’s more than enough of a reward. And you can do whatever you like, too, even make music—maybe you’ll be singing in a church, or a convalescent center, but if your music brings joy to you and especially to others, it will be reward enough.


  1. That is an amazing experience you had! Thank you so much for sharing it. I needed a little encouragement in my writing, too.

  2. It really was one of those don't-you-quit moments. We all need them.