Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Where does inspiration come from?


I have long been fascinated with the story of Jacob and Esav. To me, it captures several layers of emotions which we all go through in our families: a rivalry between brothers, the way a mother’s love, unevenly divided, can spur them to action, to crime, even; and how in time, even in the absence of regret, a punishment eventually ripens.

The story had been brewing in me for several years before I put pen to paper. Being an artist, I had expressed it through sculpture long before I wrote the words. So here you can see Yankle and his mother Becky, plotting to cheat the father. Out of a sense of shame, they are unable to look each other in the eye.

Having been cheated, I found that the character I wish to explore is not the victim of the crime, but rather the perpetrator. What are his motives? Has regret set in? Does he love his father even as he is cheating him? Does he long for the early years when he still had a bond with his twin brother?

I wrote the first chapter, Lentil Stew, and thought I got the story out of my system. But no, Yankle kept chatting it my head, demanding that I record his thoughts. I wrote the second chapter, and the same thing continued to happen. It was not until I wrote the last chapter, The Curse of the Striped Shirt, where I find a ‘poetic justice’ to conclude the story, that Yankle finally fell silent...

So when reading my story, do not seek clear distinction between heroes and villains: no one is wholly sacred, because--like Yankle, the main character here--we are all made of lights and shadows, and most of all, doubt.

My sculptures of Rebecca and her son Jacob

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