Home, Where is Home? Writing Patterns

By Veronica Helen Hart

Do we use our own background for writing our fiction? Many will say they don’t; I would be among them except for the fact that over the years I’ve seen a pattern develop in my writing that evolves around women taking charge of their lives, whether it’s our old friend Doll Reynolds who gathers her friends to protect the prince of Keegan Bay, or Janice, who is stranded in pre-revolutionary Iran and must help her father so they can escape the country. I even found it in a song I wrote for my musical, Murder in Morocco, the Musical in 2002. The theme is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie murder where a group of Americans set sail in the late 1930’s. There is strife in the world, but that doesn’t concern them. Then, while they are touring Tangier, Morocco, a young girl shows up and this is the song she sings:

KAREN

Karen, my name is Karen. I’ve been three long years from home.

MARION

Home? Where is your home?

KAREN (music)

Home, where is home? Everybody has a home.

I was a child in a house painted white.

It disappeared overnight.

My mother and father went out to celebrate,

They never returned. That was nineteen twenty-eight.

I was an orphan alone in this world

And I had no one to care.

So I went to school, a foundation paid the way.

That helped to make me what I am today.

I focused my life on archeology.

Egypt’s my specialty.

Then I was stranded in arid desert sands.

No more foundation, no money in my hands.

Once more abandoned with no place to go,

And still there is no one to care.

During the play, one of the group is murdered and then through song, dance, and narrative, we learn the dark secrets of all the travelers. While Karen’s plight was caused by one of them, I’ll not spoil it for anyone who may eventually get to see the show. (BTW – it won 8 Outstanding Achievement Awards from the New York State Theater Association.)

The point is, nearly all of my women/girls are seeking a home and love. Elena, in Elena-the Girl with the Piano, travels with her family through war torn Europe, she matures and becomes the one seeking a home for herself and her family; Elisabeth in The Reluctant Daughters had a home, but she messed it up and now, late in her life she takes steps to avenge the person she blames for her and her family’s plight.

My goodness, all that drama. When I stop to recognize the pattern, I recognize that I never had a home. My parents and I lived as vagabonds traveling the country and later, when I married, the world. Even now with my most precious spouse, we have no place to return to, no place to call home. When people ask, “Where are you from?” they expect him to say England because of his accent. I don’t know what they expect from me, but I can only say, “I was born in New York,” which does nothing to explain the many states and countries I lived in before we finally settled in Florida. He can say, “I was born in London,” but that also doesn’t explain the intervening years of living in several African countries, Ireland, the UK, and several American states.

I expect even my future books will contain an element of a woman seeking to create a home. As I am working on Talk to the Knife, a murder mystery, my protagonist is renovating an old school building to be her new place of business and home.

Wow. Who knew that once you write a bunch of books you can recognize your patterns and needs. “Home, where is home? Everybody has a home.”

Veronica Helen Hart’s most recent book, Silent Autumn, can be found at Champagne Books on line. Though not mentioned in the above blog, the protagonist here loses her home and finds herself wandering the North American continent in the year 2179, not quite alone, but with a baby to protect.

Veronica Helen Hart

Writing about Historical, Humorous, Adventurous, and always Strong, Women

Regional Director and Writing Group Leader, FWA

Member Sisters in Crime

Member Historical Fiction Society

Member EPIC

VP, Ormond Writers League

Valentine’s Day 2016

By Veronica Helen Hart

The title smacks of romance and sparkling wine, chocolates and satin sheets, and triggers memories of desire, lust, and sexual adventures. Fortunately for many of us, we have those memories of our youth and middle age to call on when it comes time to write a romantic passage. For the rest of you, if you’re still in that age range, enjoy it while you have it!

I was asked at a workshop this week, “Do you find it difficult to get into the head of a six year old or a teenager when you’re writing?”

After a few moments for thought, I had to confess that I do not find it difficult at all. That is one of the best things about being a writer: one can meander through the tunnels of the mind and find those years, those moments. Dragging a sick raccoon home from the creek one summer when I was eight. Being shot in the back by my brother with a BB gun because he wanted to see what it felt like to shoot someone. Maybe I was nine. Playing with my brother’s friends as one of the boys and then one day thinking of them from a girl’s point of view. Remembering sitting in my gym watching the guys shoot baskets and joining them as a colleague, but being regarded as a girl. I just wanted a friend.

What was it like at six getting injured on the playground and then having the male coach ask me to pull up my “petticoat?” I didn’t know what a petticoat was, but I knew I had an awful lot of blood running down from my hip where I fell and scraped it while flying on the Maypole. That was the device which consisted of a big pole with about eight chains attached. The chains had ladder-like handles so kids of all sizes could play on it at once. We ran in a circle until the momentum allowed us to lift our feet and fly. Which is apparently what I did, only I didn’t hold on well enough. I hit the gravelly ground and skidded, thus the blood running down my leg. Nearly seventy years later I have a remnant of the scar. I remember being most embarrassed at not knowing what a petticoat was than having a man I didn’t know cleaning and bandaging my leg. No one got very excited about the event.

What was it like at thirteen walking to school on Miami Beach, my seventh school in eight years? South Beach in 1952 was like a foreign country. Old ladies sat in front of art deco hotels and spoke in an unfamiliar language; churches bore foreign script, the majority of the kids in school were Jewish, a religion I had never heard of. I felt out of place and out of time. Once my Russian grandmother explained the facts of life, I slowly came to recognize and understand how many of those old folks came to live in South Beach. Suddenly I sought out every book on WWII in an effort to comprehend how such atrocities could occur.

When The Diary of Anne Frank  came out, I read it. I actually envied Anne because she had family and loved ones around her who cared about her. Yes, I mourned her loss, but she had people who loved her. How awful was that?

What I like about writing and remembering, is when I have a character who has a happy home life, I love to recreate one for her based on what I imagine that might have been like.

Writing is my own Valentine gift to myself: I can be whoever I want to be at any age.

Veronica Helen Hart is the author of several novels that include women of all ages. It’s safe to say she has lived through all of them, except the final stage. You can find her work at Champagne Books and on Amazon.com. As always, remember to include the H or Helen as the middle name unless you want to wind up on a porn site.

Veronica Helen Hart

Writing about Historical, Humorous, Adventurous, and always Strong, Women