The Inspiration

In Africa I began to read simply for pleasure, both in English and French. I quickly realized how much I loved reading … for learning and pleasure! Far different than when in high school! I began to think about writing a book. My first novel, Dark Side of the Looking Glass, started out simply as a personal desire to write a fiction novel. It was 1994; my architectural business had slowed to a snail’s pace, so I thought this would be a good time to venture into a book. I had no “lines to draw or specs to write” so I decided to jot down a few ideas for a fictional novel. I made a short list of possibilities. I was working alone in my one-room office and had Oldie-Goldies playing on the radio. Reflections, a song by Diana Ross & The Supremes played and a light came on in my mind! My first choice for a book subject was quickly replaced by something entirely new … and different. So yes, definitely, a primal thought generated from a song was the seed that germinated to produce my first novel. It was not exactly “inspirational” but certainly thought provoking. Dark Side of the Looking Glass began from that 1994 epiphany that I had during a lull in my work while listening to twenty-five-year-old songs on the radio. Reflections, the theme song for the 1988 – 1991 TV series China Beach grabbed my attention. This song, naturally, brought up thoughts of Vietnam and all who served there. Reflections was ironically followed by the 1970 song Run through the Jungle by Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of my all-time favorite groups. To me, the intro music to this Creedence song sounded like war jets streaking overhead, perhaps heading to a Vietnamese target. (Though the song was not written about Vietnam, it was for many years associated with the war.) The words and the music took my mind deeper into the jungles of Vietnam and the war that had raged for many years so long ago—and to the many casualties from it. For a few minutes I was lost in the war. My mind relived those terrible scenes broadcast live to television audiences. And, it reminded me again of my brother who was sent over as one of the early “advisors” in 1962 and again, of my high school friends who were drafted in 1965 and sent over to fight … and of those who didn’t make it back. I thought about myself. I had not been drafted; I never volunteered for duty, and never went into service; I never had to go to war… but my brother and friends did. I was married with a child. My number didn’t come up. The song lyrics of Reflections that caught my attention were: “Through the mirror of my mind, Time after time, I see reflections of you and me; Reflections of, The way life used to be, Reflections of, The love you took from me.” These lyrics spoke directly to me of a bygone era—of a horrible history—about those who served and those that didn’t come home … and me. Reflections, reminded me of looking into a mirror and being able to see inside, much like looking into a crystal ball. But a future was not foretold, only the past dark images of the horrors of the Vietnam War illuminated the silvery finish; images that emanated from somewhere just on the other side—from deep within the hellish memories of a sad time in our American history. Perhaps introspection and unnecessary self-imposed guilt for not having been a part of that personal hell created the “inspiration” for my book. Too many had gone to war all those years ago, but I didn’t … my number didn’t come up!

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