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The Why Behind the Writing

As a student of history, I am constantly drawn to the past. But as a woman, the past has told me my story isn’t one worth telling.”

This quote is taken from the Note from the Author section in my debut novel, Crimson Time. Since it is the first line my audience reads before they jump into the story, I thought it would be a good place to start this blog. Rather than begin with a typical ‘get to know me’ or ‘meet the author’ post, which I will most likely do later on, I want to use this line to help introduce you to my ‘why’.

Why do I write? Why do I study history?

Like most things, the answer is simple. And complicated at the same time.

At its simplest, I love story. “When I was little, I was the girl in the park with her nose stuck in a book. I carried them with me everywhere and found every occasion I could to break the binding and get lost for a while between the ink and vanilla-scented pages. It always struck me as a kind of magic, the way writers could manipulate 26 little letters in such a way that it was like a movie playing out in my head. I could see the setting as vividly as if I was standing there, the characters as real as if they were standing before me. I would laugh and cry and sit on the edge of my seat all because of a writer and the way she wielded 26 little letters like a paintbrush.”[1]

From an early age, I knew I wanted to do the same thing. I can’t say there was a lightbulb moment where I made this decision. It grew more as a natural, organic thing, like it had been artfully woven into the fabric of who I am as a person. Like it was a part of me.

My love of history came about in a similar way. I can’t recall a time in my life where I found the subject anything but fascinating. With an interest in story, it only seems natural history would be among my passions as it is one giant story made up of an infinite number of smaller ones. It is in these smaller stories I found my historical niche.

As any good writer knows, if you want your audience to connect with a character, you need to make them relatable. That doesn’t mean every character has to be likeable, but whether it is a character in a book or on a screen, something about their appearance, background, and/or characteristics has to resonate with the audience. They have to be able to understand the character’s motivations, and if possible, picture themselves in the character’s shoes.

Though I have always loved history, it did not always resonate with me. For a long time, I couldn’t picture myself in the narrative of it all. I came to realize this was because of the characters in the story I had been told. While I could understand and empathize with a feudal lord or founding father, I couldn’t picture myself as one of them because in the past, I wouldn’t have been one. As a woman, I wouldn’t have been given the chance.

After this realization, I started to actively seek out the stories of women in the past, both well-known figures I had been taught and lesser known ones with stories just as fascinating. What I found was a multitude of vibrant, courageous, history-altering women who few remember even existed, let alone what they accomplished. This didn’t sit right with me, the fact that these stories existed, but weren’t ever talked about or taught. They are as integral to the narrative of history as any other story of the past.

I decided if no one else was going to tell their stories, I would.

At its most complicated, I see problems and hope through my writing and study of the past I can help bring about even the smallest bit of change.

Over the next weeks, I am going to be sharing excerpts and stories from my book, Crimson Time, in this article series. Crimson Time launched on July 27, 2020 on Amazon. You can learn more about Crimson Time or purchase either the e-book ($0.99 on Kindle for the month of August) or paper back at this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08DQZDLNT?pf_rd_r=396N3KVCQWQ97SVD42MW&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee.

If you want to connect or have questions, please follow this link, https://www.emilyvanderbent.org/contact, to my website and fill out a contact form. For news and updates on Crimson Time, you can subscribe to my newsletter (also on the Contact tab of my website) or follow my author accounts (Instagram and Facebook: emilyvanderbent_author Twitter: emvan6).

[1] VanderBent, Emily. "Reflections: Do It Scared,” Girl Museum, Girl Museum Inc., June 11, 2020, https://www.girlmuseum.org/reflections-do-it-scared/.

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