A Novel Approach: War and research

For me writing involves examining things with a magnifying glass of words.

J.M. Mirich

Currently Ethiopia is on my radar as I finish rewriting a WWII novel. Did the war actually begin with Germany’s invasion of Poland? Or was it when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and no one interfered. As a member of the League of Nations Ethiopia should have been protected by the signers of the Charter. However, the nation of Ethiopia was left to her own devises but an  embargo of arms was placed on her. So, a story winds through my brain.

I want readers to experience life with all its textures and cultural nuances. Writing of the thunder of Tisisat Falls as it cascades into the ravine, the gooey texture of a chocolate truffle, and the scent of jasmine wafting through a Kenyan garden gives me joy. I prefer to do my location research in situ. Sitting at a sidewalk café in Addis Ababa and indulging in the sour pancake injera with friends is how I learn. Experiencing the ripe scent of unwashed bodies in Mombasa harbor and the cough of a lion on the prowl infuses my work with reality.

In my imagination, I’m up to my eyeballs in and desert sand. Having lived on the end of the Mohave and experiencing a haboob or two I can draw on my familiarity of chasing sand around when cleaning and attempting to spit out grit in a lady-like manner.

I’ve dealt with a few things in life—a swat team on my roof firing at a kidnapping suspect, yes—bullets flying from a Regina Aeronautica’s Caproni Ca 101, no. I’ve never had to contend with bombs. I do not think I need to experience being a target of an air raid to write about it.   

They must be terrifying reading the accounts of the survivors of the London Blitz. What can I draw from to communicate the fear people had? The light slowly dawns. We live with fear from too much information about skullduggery, pandemics, and shortages. In a culture that has news at the touch of a finger we are riveted by the latest outrage. When our minds are whiplashed by irate opinion sharers, we become like the people Absalom chatted up at the city gate—easily troubled.

The Lord challenges me to think about, ‘What is true, what is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise, think on these things.’ Philippians 4:8-9. During this season I’m fleeing the whispers and seeking His peace that I glean from His word.

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