The Inspiration Behind BANISHED LOVE
By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner
One of the most frequent questions I am asked is what inspired me to write BANISHED LOVE. I remember standing in a river in Montana as I fly-fished and a story continued to play through my mind. For months, I had ignored a little voice inside of me telling me that I wanted to write. Finally, as this story continued to play through my mind and became increasingly vivid, I began to think that this might be the story I wanted to tell.
I used to think that everyone walked around making up stories to themselves throughout the day. That they would start a story and then hit an imaginary “pause” button when they arrived to work and then hit “play” again when they had a free moment to restart it, editing as they went along until they reached the end of that story. I used to listen to music and create stories for myself on long road trips or plane trips. I didn’t need to always have a book, because I often wanted to know what would happen in the story I was imagining. Only as I have gotten older have I realized that most people don’t do that. However, even though I have always made up stories for myself, I had not considered myself a creative sort of person nor a writer.
However, while I was home in Montana in the summer of 2010, I began to consider writing. I knew in the beginning I would write just for me. I talked with my dad about all kinds of old time knowledge that I wouldn’t know anything about. Like how the men cut trees in the early days and skidded them out of the forest or how an old-timer would have set traps. I was laying the foundation for research, even though I have yet to use much of the knowledge I learned at the time.
When I first began to write BANISHED LOVE, it had no name. I simply called it “Ramona project.” As I edited it, I added a number after it so I could see the different draft changes. I have about 50 different drafts on my computer. I also thought I would write it as an epistolary novel, similar to the fantastic THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY novel I had loved. I thought that since I loved writing letters, I would be able to write an engaging epistolary novel.
How wrong I was! It is incredibly hard to write such a novel and I now realize why there are so few of them. I soon scrapped that idea for the first part of the book, although I did have to completely re-write 200 pages because I clung to that ill-advised idea for book two. I realized that although I may be a good letter writer that does not mean I can write an interesting book full of letters.
I decided to write in first person because, as I struggled to begin writing, Clarissa began to speak to me. It was her voice I heard as I lay on my bed wondering to myself how I could have imagined myself a writer. All of a sudden, her voice popped into my head saying: “My clumsiness would be my downfall.” From there, the book just started flowing and I often had to play catch up to my thoughts.
First person was often hard to write because I couldn’t write from any one else’s view (that seems like such an obvious statement, but it isn’t always as apparent when you are in the middle of a scene), and I could only write what she would know about. I found it limiting at times, and I often had to think through ways to circumvent those limitations.
I have loved this journey of discovery as I continue to write. It is one of the most rewarding aspects of my life and I am thankful I listened to that little voice, urging me to write.
What has inspired you to write? What are some of the ideas you have had to discard along the way?
by Ramona Flightner
Clarissa Sullivan dreams for more from life than sipping tepid tea in stifling parlors in Victorian Boston. She defies her family’s wishes, continuing to teach poor immigrant children in Boston’s West End, finding a much-needed purpose to her life.
As a suffragette, Clarissa is considered a firebrand radical no man would desire. For why should women want the vote when men have sheltered women from the distasteful aspects of politics and law?
When love blossoms between Clarissa and Gabriel McLeod, a struggling cabinetmaker, her family objects. Clarissa’s love and determination will be tested as she faces class prejudices, manipulative family members and social convention in order to live the life she desires with the man she loves.
Will she succeed? Or will she yield to expectations?
BANISHED LOVE follows Clarissa Sullivan on her journey of self-discovery as she learns what she cannot live without.
“Colin, anything in that paper interesting enough to share? You read it like you are hoping to find some long-lost treasure,” Lucas cajoled.
“Hmm…no, nothing uplifting like that song. Just more tales of death and woe around the world. The Boxers are getting more powerful and dangerous.” Colin sighed, setting aside the Boston Evening Transcript.
“And why should we care about a bunch of pugilists?” Mrs. Smythe demanded, her thin face even longer with her disapproval.
I giggled; Lucas snorted before acting as though he were sneezing to hide his amusement, but Colin stared at Mrs. Smythe with frank fascination.
“Do you read the papers, Mrs. Sm…Sullivan? Talk with your friends?” At her cold stare, he continued. “The Boxers are discontented Chinese on the verge of rebellion who are indiscriminately killing Christians in China. Including American Christians,” Colin said helpfully. “I thought it was the topic of conversation these days.” He glanced toward Lucas and me, and we both nodded our agreement.
“A genteel woman,” Mrs. Smythe began, with a sniff in my direction to indicate I must be lacking in that regard, “would not know of such vulgar goings-on halfway around the world with a bunch of savages, my dear Colin. I do read the papers but only the parts that pertain to my world and me. The parts about running a good home, a good kitchen. About decoration.” With this, she waved her hand around the room to indicate its frightful state. “Decorum.” Yet another censorious glare was sent in my direction. “These are the important matters of my life,” she stated with one more sniff, showing her displeasure at the topic.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ramona Flightner is a native of Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish, she earned a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Montana. Her Master’s thesis, Chilean Testimonial Literature: the collective suffering of a people, highlighted her continued interest in the stories of those who were at risk of being forgotten or silenced.
She studied nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked for ten years as a family nurse practitioner providing care to the poor and under insured at two community health centers, first in Wilmington, Delaware and now in Boston, Massachusetts.
An avid reader, she began writing three years ago. She enjoys the demands of research and relishes the small discoveries that give historical detail to her books.
Ramona is an avid flyfisher and hiker who enjoys nothing better than spending a day on a remote Montana river, far from a city. She enjoys research, travel, storytelling, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of looking at the world. Though she resides in Boston, Massachusetts, Ramona remains a Montanan at heart.
Her dreams are to see the plains of East Africa, marvel at the wonder of Petra in Jordan, soak in the seas of the South Pacific, and to continue to spend as much time as possible with her family.
Banished Love is her first novel and is the first in the forthcoming Banished Saga.
AUTHOR WEB PAGE: http://www.ramonaflightner.com