About the Children of Light Series
Recently, I have been asked about my Children of Light (COL) books, and how did I come to write them, what was my inspiration, how do you figure out the characters, and did I know the whole story right away?
Let’s start with the last question… did I know the whole story right away? For the most part within a month or so of starting, I had a definite idea of where I wanted the book to go and what would be the end. Did I have the details? Absolutely not! There were days when I sat down to write that I truly didn’t know how it would go. I have glimpses, but until I sit and hold the pen in my hand and begin, I often am in the dark. (LOL, get the pun?)
How did I come to write these books?
Let’s go back to the first question… how did I come to write these books? I have dabbled in writing for most of my life. I didn’t start a concerted effort until after our first daughter was born. During maternity leave, I had a dream that drove me to write a book. That book took about four years to complete. It is safely tucked away in a cupboard right now. I am afraid to read it, as I think it will be terrible, but I will do it after this series is done. Since then, I have written and started several others, all safely tucked away in the same cupboard. I call these books and the almost 40 years of dabbling as my practice.
So, when the inspiration came for what has turned out to be my COL series of books, it was not a strange leap for me to start writing. What was unusual, was that I had not written anything for many years. So, for the inspiration to come and to be honest, be so vivid, I simply had to start again.
What was the inspiration?
You may be surprised to learn that it was a piece of music I heard on the radio. (I was driving us home from Windsor after Brian had a medical procedure. I was driving, since he was not allowed to.) As the music played, I had the strongest image… or a mini-movie playing out in my head. The image was so powerful, I simply had to write it down. It turned out to be the opening scene of what is the Pairing Ceremony in COL.
In my mind’s eye, I saw a group of fierce warriors performing intricate series of movements, which required practice, skill, speed, precision, and dedication. These were not the beautiful movements of a dance recital or ballet. The artistry comes from the power and force exuded. Many of the moves are aggressive and harsh, but that is to be expected from warriors. But the overall picture, the overall impression, and the sensation are one of awe.
Once I had that recorded, I put my notebook down but had to pick it up almost right away, as the story began to develop. I had an overwhelming urge to keep writing. I think I sat on the deck, as it was June, and wrote for about three hours. I filled so many pages of my little notebook, that I was almost out of paper. But Children of Light books were born.
What about all the characters? Stories are about people, for the most part, and mine are no different. Well, my overactive imagination took flight and I wrote almost daily for several weeks. I simply could not stop. As I wrote, the story began forming itself and characters arose, made their presence known, and insisted on their piece of the action. You may think it strange, but that is essentially how my character development takes place. They just jump on the page. Some are transitory, and many of those have been removed and filed, not making it to the final version of whatever book I am working on. But, some insist on staying.
Some characters I deleted because I didn’t like their voice, that is how they sounded in my head. (Yes, that may be strange, but it is what it is.) But, some insisted on being in the book, and the series. One such character is Grayson. I wrote him in as an aside. He was a Light-Warrior, but he was less. Less dedicated. Less driven. Less honor-bound. He was self-absorbed; self-serving and it was all about what his status could bring him. That was his voice, and I didn’t like him. But, not all characters are likable. He certainly was not. At least not at first.
Yet, as time went on, his true voice came out. All his bravado, his unwarranted self-assurance, and so on, was nothing more than a facade. Once the facade dropped, or melted away, as it was a rather slow process, the true man stepped out of the shadows. (Yet another pun.) In book two, Into the Shadows, we meet the true Grayson. And by the way, he gets an entire book to himself, in book four, the Hidden people (due out sometimes in 2022).
I must admit, to my great surprise a female turned out to be the protagonist. I honestly thought it was going to be Kaiden, the Light-Warrior of the opening scene during the Pairing Ceremony. However, Emma was stronger and had much more at stake, once I learned who she was. The first chapter of book one, Into the Light, was written almost at the very end, when I’d finished book one, and had already written a large part of book two.
Emma was originally called Sarai, but the name just didn’t stick. It was too unusual for her character, a girl who only wanted to be anonymous because she was taught to be that way. Emma was more natural, and it stuck. Once her name changed, her character blossomed. I wrote so many pages about her background. It made up several chapters, all of which were cut out, and instead little drips and drabs were sprinkled throughout the series.
Who is Emma?
I’m not sure I knew the entire complexity of Emma’s character until the series was done. Although Emma appears to be mild and meek, she has an inner core of steel. She just needs to understand who she is, and what her purpose is. Once she figures that out, she can get going and get it done. By now, as book three is out, almost all of her is out there, but who knows, she may still have a few surprises.
Several other important characters have grown and developed over time, but I won’t go into them now. Maybe later.
Every book needs a theme, or at least it is what I have learned over the last four years, as I’ve studied the art of writing. Yes, I’ve had to study it, as I had absolutely no idea. I just wrote.
The theme is a crucial piece of every book. It is what holds it together. If it is lost, the book has nothing to hang onto and fails. That is not to say if a book has a theme, it will be a success. But without a theme, it is bound to fail. Since I am not a plotter but rather a pantser in my writing style (Jerry Jenkins words), I rarely plan anything out, but I do have an idea of where stories need to go. But, the theme is crucial. What is the story all about? What is the takeaway?
So, for COL, which was originally going to be one, stand-alone, book, my theme was serving God, in whatever capacity he leads us. However, the struggle is to figure out what our purpose is. Emma has that struggle. She wants to serve God but on her terms.
So, I broke out her struggle into four sections.
- Recognize that her gifts are from God, and not a curse.
- Accept those gifts and begin to use them, as God had intended.
- Surrender to God’s will in her life, and forgo her plans and desires.
- Respond and do whatever God has called her and has prepared her to do.
These were essentially going to be the sub-themes for the four sections (three acts, with act two being in two parts), of the book. It all seemed too simple, but it all fit with what I had written. By the way, I learned about the theme, about two years into the writing process. Thank the Lord, it all fits together. I know it is only through God’s daily guidance that these books have been written. I could not do this on my own.
So, now that the one book has become a series, each book is based on the overarching theme of serving God but has one of the above-mentioned sub-themes. Book one, Into the Light, is all about recognizing that our gifts are from God. Emma had to do that. She has lived believing a lie, and now she has to face the truth.
Book two, In the Shadows, is all about accepting the gifts and using them as God had intended. For Emma, once she sees the lie she has believed for what it is, she must accept the truth and change.
Surrender is Hard
Book three and four, have the same theme, which is surrender. Surrendering to God’s will in our lives. Both Emma and Grayson have that journey but in separate books. Emma’s surrender journey is captured in book three, Orphan Lights, and Grayson’s journey is captured in book four, Hidden People.
Book five, Sorrow and Joy, is all about responding and doing God’s will and fulfilling one’s purpose. We come full circle, where Emma needs to decide what she will do. But this time, her decision-making process comes from obedience to God’s word, and his will, rather than her own desires and wants.
Parallel Story Lines
At this time, I must explain the parallel storylines of books three and four. As I said earlier, book three (Orphan Lights) is about Emma, and book four (Hidden People) is about Grayson. Originally, I wrote these as one story… one book. However, I realized it was just too much information and new characters were coming out of the woodwork. Their personal stories fit the theme and they had important roles, so I couldn’t just cut them out. So, after wrangling with the problem for a long time, I eventually split the story into two books.
This means that books 3 and 4 happen on the same timeline. Talk about complicating everything! But, I could do nothing else. While Book 4, Hidden People, focuses on Grayson’s story, Emma’s story continues in the last book of the series, Sorrow and Joy. As always, I trust God will guide, as he has all along.
A Long and Winding Road
If I can borrow that term from the Beatles song. This writing journey has been a long and winding road. I started writing in June 2017. A year and a half later, I stopped. In came doubt. Thoughts like…
Who am I to think I can write a book?
What am I doing wasting all my time writing nonsense?
What good will this serve the Kingdom of God?
Shouldn’t I be serving God in some other way?
You know nothing about writing.
So, I stopped writing and began to earnestly seek God and what he would want me to do. I had written a lot, but I will forgo all of it. I needed God’s wisdom and guidance. In my heart, I knew that the story that had evolved was God-focused and from God, but the seeds of doubt that were planted grew and grew and grew.
Writing in Isolation
When one is writing in isolation, the devil can easily get his foothold, and I let him. But God, in his mercy, set me free. It took some months, but I eventually got the message. A large part of it came from Dr. Jeremiah’s book and preaching series of Forward. I could hardly believe the timing and the message. It was as if God was doing this just for me. By the end of the book and the series, I was freed of my doubt and knew I had to step out in faith.
God Blesses the Faithful
So, I did and by December 2020, I published (independent publishing through Amazon) the first book, Children of Light, Into the Light. Book 2, In the Shadows, came out in June 2021, and Book 3, Orphan Lights in November 2021. Sorrow and Joy, Book 5, was published in January 2023.
So, now the Children of Light series is done. But, another story is begging to be told, and that is Granny’s story. It will be a prequel, and hopefully will be done in time for Christmas 2023.
Thank you to all my readers! If you are so inclined, please let me know what you think about my books. I love feedback.