Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Tuesday, 14 April '09: Musings on the Muse
The nice thing about a long weekend is the chance to read without interruption. With satisfaction, I completed a newly published novel (2009): The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee. Part love story, part thriller, the book is set in post-war Hong Kong with flashbacks to the main action which occurs following the fall of the British colony to the Japanese and the Occupation.
But a book review is not my intention. Charlotte Bronte, quoted by Lee, said, "The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master, something that at times strangely wills and works for itself." And Lee writes about her own craft, saying that the book began as a short story (so did the popular 'Madonnas of Leningrad' which many bloggers have enjoyed). Her own childhood and life in Hong Kong provided the authenticity of the detailed backdrop. But what interested me was that the novel evolved without an outline or a plot. Lee created two characters, then another two sprang to life. For five years she kept writing: allowing her characters to converse, interact and act. They dictated the story. Lee never knew how the book was going to end. Propelled by her characters she 'kept trying to get them out of sticky situations'. The result is an intriguing book, with an exquisitely delicate touch and an unexpected ending.
There are several novelists (and some emerging while I talk) among the bloggers I know. How does the Muse lead you? I would love to know!