January is a great month for new beginnings.
As an author and adoptee, I find myself forever involved in a personal makeover. Maybe it’s the extreme sort of freedom granted by having more than one family tree – the parents to which one is born and the adoptive parents who raised one. Whatever the case, I find myself often embarking on new ventures. This became crystal clear during the creation of my memoir The Goodbye Baby~Adoptee Diaries. During the 50s,60s and 70s, I sought to be the kind of daughter my parents wished they had, never meeting my own impossible standards. Harvesting my journals for that book was a route to being at peace with having been adopted. It freed me to write other books.
Always a new avenue… However, the constant thread has been and will always be writing. After the debut of my guidebook Santa Fe On Foot-Exploring the City Different, I suffered from post-publication letdown This reaction is not uncommon. With writers I know, the joy of completing a book brings with it a dreary vacuum, an emptiness. The only solution is to begin another book.
Good news: I have a novel coming out this April, All the Wrong Places. It’s being issued by Pocol Press, an independent publisher located in Clifton, Virginia. Here’s the plot…
Adoptee Clara moves from the east coast to Red Mesa, New Mexico, and begins a teaching year at the American Indian Academy. Shortly after the start of a new semester, headmaster Joseph Speckled Rock is found dead on Clara’s classroom floor. Both teacher and students are shocked.
Clara deals with her students’ grief and her own frustration by daily running in the rough hills surrounding the academy. Carnell Dorame, a talented student and Clara’s favorite, uses the Internet to trace the identity of her birthmother. The school’s computer teacher Henry DiMarco invites Clara out for a date and they end up becoming lovers. Henry, however, is not what he seems. His real business is smuggling pottery, an enterprise that is tied in with the death of Speckled Rock.
When Clara begins to suspect Henry’s dual nature, he decides that she is in the way and breaks up with her. She runs to a remote arroyo and underground cave studying petroglyphs that might lead to her birthmother’s identity. But it seems she is not alone…
Will adoptee Clara Jordan be able learn about her family tree? I can tell you this much: Clara does learn about her birthmother, but it is not a good reunion. She’s left with more questions than answers.
I’m now at work on a second novel in the Clara Jordan series, The Hand of Ganesha. My heroine Clara moves to Santa Fe, New Mexico, still questing. There she befriends Arundhati Benet, another adoptee. The two discuss traveling to India to trace Dottie’s ancestry. Their friend Sanjay Roy invites them to go with him to Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where he has relatives. The two women end up being separated from Sanjay. They find themselves at a Kumba Mela festival and either find a clue as to Dottie’s real origins – or not. I’m “interviewing” Clara and Dottie. Daily “free writing” has yielded character revelation and background.r than imposing a plot, I listen to what they have to say about what happens.
Does the interview method work? Time will tell. I’ve given myself until Valentine’s Day to decide on a plot. After that I’ll begin the “real writing.” I’ll be armed with a plot, but that will be subject to change. The characters will have the final word.
Join author Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption, writing, hiking and living in the Southwest. Stay tuned for news on All the Wrong Places, and check out http://www.santafeonfoot.com. Your comments are invited!