Writing about an event such as the introduction of camels into the southwest was exciting because of the research. I love digging out little treasures from a multitude of archives. And quite frankly, I enjoyed writing the narrative explaining the event. Plus, I seem to be driven to non-fiction when I write magazine articles for my audience--kids. Not that it is an easy task. Writing non-fiction is actually labor intensive. Some authors take years researching and then writing about their subjects. I spent almost a year gathering the official diaries and correspondences necessary to get my facts straight for The Great Camel Experiment of the Old West. Then it was another six months to write the narrative. I'm not even going to talk about the length of time it takes to publish--sheesh. However, out of the research came a piece of information that led to my desire to write fiction.
When I decided to write Search for the Red Ghost, I couldn't wait to start. The research was already firmly planted in my mind, so my brain took over and wove a story of what ifs. What if I found my mother dead and I couldn't identify the animal that did it? What if my father refused to hunt it down? What if I believed that no one thought my mother was worth enacting revenge on her killer? What if I thought I was old enough to do it myself? All these what ifs and a thousand more bounced through my head until the story demanded to be told. It wasn't difficult to create Jake. My brother, John, is a master hunter with the heart of a true mountain man. If he was in the position that I put Jake, my brother would do the same exact thing. He is the epitome of Jake. So, that made the book somewhat easy to visualize. Every time I put Jake into a dangerous situation, I asked myself, "What would my brother do?" and the answer flew onto the page. Now, don't get me wrong, this book was difficult to write because other than a few short stories and a couple of almost novels, I wasn't sure I had enough talent, skill, or ability to write it.
So this is where I am today--do I continue writing what is comfortable--non-fiction? Or, do I stretch myself and write fiction?
Presently, I have four books started, and all of them are fiction. However, I have a burning desire to write a memoir of sorts based on the dark journey I've been on since we lost our eldest daughter. Losing a child, regardless of their age or time in life, is catastrophic. It actually kills a piece of your heart, and at times makes you consider giving up. I know I would have fallen into that pit if it had not been for my youngest daughter, my husband, and the two beautiful girls my daughter left behind. But, I am also somewhat of a realist and as such am not sure I could write something so personal yet. Then there is the mountain of files I have collected concerning real live events that I have found very little written about for younger audiences. There is a world of knowledge out there just waiting for someone to find the right angle and share it with kids. And, actually, I also have four non-fiction books outlined. I know, it seems like I like the #4.
So while I work through my indecision, what would you suggest? Yes. I am asking you--the you who is reading my blog. Non-fiction or fiction? And, yes, that is the question.