Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just Begun

 Dancing with Danger is just begun. What does this mean? In order to answer, I have to go back to my years in New England. During our time in the east, we were fortunate to find a wonderful piano teacher. I remember the first time I trudged down the stairs to his studio. Although he never smoked during lessons, his house was permeated with the effects of excessive nicotine. As a non-smoker with asthmatic children, I was ready to check this teacher off our list. Since we had scheduled this audition, I choose to stay.

As my daughter played and did as Jack commanded, I sat and watched. I forgot the stale smell of cigarettes and sat mesmerized, realizing that I was in the presence of a master teacher. I had a degree in education and had taught for years, but I'd never experienced anything so amazing. He was a gifted pianist, but it was more than his talent and his love for music that touched me.

Three of our children developed into excellent pianists as they sat at the grand piano squeezed into his basement studio. I look back on those years and cherish what Jack taught me and my children. I've incorporated many of his favorite phrases in my teaching, "Use your other right hand," and "I'm glad I was looking out the window and didn't see your fingering."

One concept that fascinated me was Jack's way of dealing with finished pieces. He never said that the children were done with any music. Instead, he informed them this sonata or prelude was just begun. The song which had been practiced and studied could now be set aside and taken out to be improved upon at some future date. It was just begun.

After we moved away, our communication was limited to Christmas Cards. Over the years, Jack developed a brain tumor. Following his surgery, he was left without the use of his right hand as well as diminished technique skills. Instead of giving up, Jack retrained his left hand to play and even wrote music for one handed piano. Jack proved to me that life is just begun.

Whatever we do in life can be done better later on. Our greatness is just begun. Jack put into practice his beliefs and taught me that there is a newness in everything we pick up and do again. Today is the time to go out and be better than we've ever been before, the time to accept where we are now and never believe that we can't improve.

So to you, Jack, I say, my latest novel, Dancing with Danger is just begun.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Each Person has a Story

 Today, I'm indulging my craving for a bout of schizophrenia. Theses urges come upon me in the middle of the night when a character wanders out of my imagination and demands to be heard. The effects linger into the daylight hours where women like Esther and Jane parade through the pages of my mind and cry that it's been too long since Never Again hit the book stores.

Lately, Jane and Esther have been hinting that they have friends who are hiding in the corners of my mind. There's Violet Stevenson who is addicted to the writings of Charles Dickens. Right now she's in the midst of reading Martin Chuzzlewit. Violet's obession with this novel is spilling over into her relationship with Ariella, her grand-daughter. This young woman is the recipient of advice from the characters in Dickens' novel which Violet suggests will improve Ariella's life. Just imagine if Ariella listened to the ever cheerful, Mark Tapley and learned to be jolly in the midst of her trails, she might be able to endure the pau de deux that she's dancing with the overly handy, Edward without resorting to crushing his foot with her pointe shoe.

Along with Violet there's an older man who is unkownn to Violet, but who has found his way into the unwritten pages of my next book. Vashi doesn't talk much, but when he does, it's profound. He has this way of looking at you that induces serious intorspection which influences your life and your perceptions. Did I mention that Vashi is addicted to chocolate cheesecake, although on occassion he has been known to accept plain cheesecake drizzled with raspberry sauce?

I love characters. I love real people. It's a special fascination of mine to watch the masses of humanity wherever I go. I find airports particularly satisfying. Instead of reading while I wait for my flight, I observe mankind. Each person has a story. I watch how the mother entertains her child, how the businessman's phone is perpetually glued to his ear, how the couple on vacation lounges in shorts and sunglasses giving each other radiant smiles. It goes on and on as I indulge in the never ending panorama of life.

My schizophrenia is flaring up again and demanding attention. It's time for me to write. Never Again your sibling is about to be born.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book signings for Never Again

Being in the spot light was never an ambition of mine, so I wasn't thrilled about doing book signings for Never Again. I'd seen authours sitting behind a table looking bored while costomers walked blindly past. The image was not encouraging. Nevertheless I dressed with care and drove to the bookstore.

I saw the table, my name on a poster and my books in a neat pile. The management was friendly, but I felt awkward. I stood by the display trying to look natural while inside I was dealing with a mass of insecurities. I smiled and tried to talk with people.

After a few minutes, a strange thing happened. The scent of newly published books perfumed the air and settled my nerves. I looked around and saw people browsing, lifting novels and reading the jacket covers. They were people just like me, people who loved to read.

In that instant everything changed. I felt like these people were my friends. I could say "hi" to them and not feel awkward. I watched and found pleasure in their enjoyment of selecting a book. Some of them smiled and came over to talk about Never Again. There was a six or seven year old girl who came rushing past with a book about sharks dangling open with complete disreguard for the spine. She was so excited that the assistant manager and I only commented on the joy of books.

There followed some very special moments. I don't know what happened to me, but my heart was filled with love for everyone. I was moved by the young couple that was celebrating their fourth anniversary. As he turned to his wife and asked her if she would like a copy of Never Again, I noticied the tender way he looked at her. It was beautiful.

I wanted to cry when a woman told me she'd suffered through a dysfunctional relationship like Megan had in Never Again. My book was only fiction. Hers was real heart ache. It made me glad that I had written Never Again. I wanted this woman to find hope and healing.

There were two adult sisters who bought a book to share. As they talked and interacted, it was apparent that they had maintained a close relationship through the years. I wrote their names on the title page of Never Again and couldn't help adding, "Sisters forever." They read the inscription and laughed.

By the end of the evening, I realized that book signings aren't about me and how insecure I feel. Instead, they're about all the wonderful people I met. Whether they bought my book or not didn't matter, because we had bonded and become friends. Never again will I look at book signings in the same way.

Happy Holidays  Katherine Adams

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Defense of Happy Endings

There has been some criticism of Never Again ending happily. It puzzles me why a happy ending should be negative. Do we live in a world so devoid of hope that sad endings are considered realistic? I agree that castles and fairy tales all have the connotation that the prince and the princess will live happily ever after, but if you strip that away what do you have left? No hope of finding happiness? No chance of overcoming hard times?

The wisest man I know, my father, once told me something that I didn't agree with. As a college student, I returned home for the summer and invited my family to see a favorite movie. After the feature, I quizzed my family about their opinion of the movie. The comments were positive, although my father remained silent.

I cornered my dad and sought his reaction. He stated that he didn't like the movie because it had a sad ending. It was his belief that there are enough troubles in life that you don't have to go looking for them.

At the time, I disagreed. The movie made you cry and was touching. However over the years, I've revised my opinion. Ben in Never Again reflects a similiar philosophy. He tells Megan that we have to enjoy the good moments in life, because the bad times will come.

Once I heard the statement: trials are mandatory, but misery is optional. So if we all have hard times and pain, why can't we look to happy solutions? Heavenly Father desires a happy ending for all of us. If this is true then it seems to me that we should be reaching out for happiness. As we overcome our trails in the Lord's way we create happy endings. This is what Megan does in Never Again. Was it easy for Megan or for any of us? Absolutely not! I believe the only sad endings are when we give up hope and stop trying to live God's laws.

So make your own happy endings and I'll keep writing mine!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

In the beginning

In the beginning, I didn't intend to write a serious novel like Never Again I wrote Regency Romances where you could escape and forget the roll of dental floss the children had wrapped around the doorknob, the dirty dishes that darkened the counter and the jam fingerprints that decorated the slider (New England term for sliding glass door).

In 2004, that all changed. I was reading a priesthood conference talk by President Hinckley when I was touched by the plight of a woman who had suffered becasue of her husband's addiction to pornography. I was impressed that I should write about a similar situation except in this case the woman should divorce her husband and find healing. Since I was resistant, I avoided writing, but somehow at odd times in the day or through the night, pieces of Megan's story would flitter around in my mind.

When I finally started writing Never Again, I had many wonderful/awful experiences. Thinking I was attending a marriage seminar, I set up my lap top in the center of a large room. The instructor stood up and announced that the schedule had been altered. She would be lecturing on pornography.

I was not thrilled about the subject of porn addiction, but I felt embarrrassed to stand up and walk out. Fifteen minutes later my husband asked if I wanted to leave. By then I was copiously taking notes, everything the woman was saying helped me to understand Megan's character. There was no question of leaving. After that, reasearch was easier.

I came to love Megan, to wish that her world hadn't been shattered. See, my schizophrenia is kicking in. Maybe it was a good thing that Megan became so vivid to me because I began to see her in my real everyday life, a sister of someone I knew, a member of my ward, an old friend and on and on.

My desire to finish this book grew. These women's stories needed to be told in a positive way that offered hope and healing. Megan's promise to Never Again risk her heart must be broken in order to do this.

I knew that some portions of this book would be heavy and dark so I added Jane and Esther for comic relief. I placed Amber in a position to soften and smoothe the way. It is my hope that as you read Never Again you will laugh, cry and be uplifted, but most of all that you will understand yourself or a dear sister who has suffered.

Katherine Adams