Tuesday, December 17, 2019

#109 Inside the Emotion of Fiction "DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS" by Amalia Carosella

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***The CRC Blog welcomes submissions from published and unpublished fiction genre writers for INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION.  Contact CRC Blog via email at
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****Amalia Stankavage Dillin’s DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS is #108 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? Daughter of a Thousand Years—I bounced a bunch of different titles back and forth with my editor before we settled on this one, but my working title was One Thousand Years, because the two timelines were a thousand years apart. It was a tough book to title because of the dual timeline element. The heart of the story for both times was the same: both Emma, in the contemporary United States, and Freydis, in the Viking age, are pagans in predominantly Christian communities and daughters of influential men in positions of leadership in those communities, as well, but there’s a lot of difference in how those communities conduct themselves, and the challenges they face are unique to their times.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no.   If yes, what publisher and what publication date? Yes, by Lake Union Publishing, February 2017!

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I started writing Daughter of a Thousand Years in October 2015 or so, under contract. I finished it in the spring of 2016, delivered to my editor before Easter that year.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work?  And please describe in detail.  And can you please include a photo? I wrote Daughter of a Thousand Years in what had been my Grandfather’s house, where my husband and I were living at the time, and a place that has been very special to my all my life. (Right:  Amalia's Grandfather's garage)
I’d recently set myself up a real workspace that wasn’t just the couch in the living room, but it was pretty bare bones! Just a desk and a crooked office chair and a pile of reference books in the corner of our freshly repainted bedroom. But it was my space, and I could close the door and keep people from interrupting my workflow. (This was a lot less of an issue before I was writing novels under contract!)

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I worked on my laptop, in Word 2007, and occasionally in various notebooks while I ran errands on the weekend. My workday was generally 10am to 10pm, with breaks for lunch and dinner. Sometimes I sometimes listened to music—though I don’t remember being fixated on any one band or playlist, as sometimes happens with other books I’ve written! Probably Of Monsters and Men, if anything!

What excerpt of the book was the most emotional for you to write? This excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.

“I know,” Sarah said. “I know. I get it. But if you guys connected—maybe he wasn’t worried about it until he realized he really should be, because it was going to destroy him if it didn’t work out.”
I moaned, sliding down the wall. “Please don’t let that be what’s going on. It’s going to make it so much worse when I have to tell him how not Catholic I really am.”
“You didn’t?”
“Of course I didn’t! It was our first date.”
“But you guys talked about religion, you said.”
“It was bound to come up,” I told her. “But it was mostly just kind of probing to feel out his position on things, not mine. I didn’t want to scare him off.”
“You should just get it out of the way, Emma. Tell him you’re whatever you are, and move on. He’ll either understand or he won’t, but it’s not like you worship Satan.”
I tipped my head back against the wall, thumping it once, twice,again. “No, I just worship Thor.”
“Right, whatever.”
I let out a long breath, forcing myself to ignore the way she dismissed my words. My faith. If someone suggested she was Catholic and not Protestant, she would be offended, but I was just whatever. And this was why we didn’t talk about my faith. Why even though she knew the truth, I still felt so alone. “You know it isn’t going to be that simple.”
“Would you rather get all wrapped up in him, let him fall in love with you, and then spring it on him and break both your hearts when he looks at you like you’re crazy?” she asked. “Because judging by this conversation, that’s where this is headed. And it’s going to get there fast.”
I closed my eyes, hating that she was right. Hating that she’d looked at me like I was crazy, too, when I’d first told her about my beliefs. That she still to this day couldn’t bring herself to say the word Heathen without implied subvocal air quotes, when she could bring herself to say it at all. Like it couldn’t possibly be as real to me as her faith was to her.
And if Alex responded the same way . . .
We’d been on only one date, but I knew already it would tear me apart.
“Just tell him, Emma,” Sarah said. “If you’re serious about your faith and it means that much to you, it isn’t fair to keep it from him. This is Alex. You already know he can be trusted not to wreck your father’s campaign if things go south. Just be honest.”
“Yeah,” I said, blinking back the tears that pressed behind my eyes.
It was so easy for her to say. For Sarah, for my dad, it was nothing to say they believed in Jesus. People just accepted Christianity as a matter of course, and no one was going to accuse them of being racists or neo-Nazis because of it. No one was going to tell them their god didn’t exist in the middle of a history class, or blink if they suggested they’d had some kind of spiritual experience of Christ. And sure, yeah, maybe part of it was that it was a big deal to me, and I was making more of it than I needed to because of that, but when the base assumption of everyone around you was that everyone else was monotheist or nonreligious and you weren’t either one, it was something that you became a little more acutely aware of.
“Who knows?” I said, forcing all the rest of it away. Forcing myself to keep my voice steady instead of strangled. “Maybe there won’t even be a second date.”
To be honest, after this, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted one.

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you to write?  And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific scene/excerpt? So this whole book was kind of an emotional roller coaster for me. I wasn’t at all prepared to write it or ready for what writing it would mean for me, personally. DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS, at its heart, is a book about faith and spirituality that exists outside of what is considered normal or acceptable, and writing that book meant being publicly and personally open about my faith and spirituality in ways I hadn’t ever been before—ways I had been too afraid to be, before.
So in many ways, Emma’s confession was also mine, and putting it in print, in a book that would be published, was terrifying. Her agonizing about that confession, and how the people she loved most would respond, was something I was experiencing alongside her, anticipating having the same conversations with my family and loved ones, who I had been too afraid to talk to about my faith before. (And like Emma, some of those people were more accepting and understanding than others—which is just human nature, I think, when it comes to faith.)

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. Nope, no cuts from this scene—it DID need some clarification and expansion to give us a stronger sense of what was going on between Sarah and Emma, and what Sarah understood about Emma’s faith, so this was a scene with a lot of additions rather than subtractions. Lines like “And this was why we didn’t talk about my faith. Why even though she knew the truth, I still felt so alone.” came in later, to give their relationship a little bit more depth and make it clear that Emma had hit up against this same wall in the past—and explain part of why she was so hesitant to have these kinds of revealing conversations with other people, as well. The work-up isn’t such that it makes for a very dramatic picture, or really works to take a screenshot, sorry.
Other works you have published? As Amalia Carosella, I’m also the author of HELEN OF SPARTA, BY HELEN’S HAND, and TAMER OF HORSES, as well as a co-author of the collaborative History 360 Team novel A SEA OF SORROW: A NOVEL OF ODYSSEUS, and the short story “Ariadne and the Beast.” I also write fantasy and fantasy romance as Amalia Dillin, including the Orc Saga, the Fate of the Gods trilogy, and the Postcards from Asgard duology.
Anything you would like to add? DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS was maybe the most personal book I’d ever written to date, and certainly it was the most soul-baring and difficult as a result. It felt like I was bleeding all over every page—but looking back, I can see how much my own fear influenced the book, and the act of facing that fear through writing the novel allowed me to grow and find my own strength, so I could go on to write a book like FROM ASGARD, WITH LOVE (as Amalia Dillin) more boldly, and also become more true to myself on the whole.
I want to note, too, that writing this book, I wanted to be as sensitive in my portrayals of the spectrum of faith that exists both for Christians and Pagans—to show how even people of the same faith can respond differently. Freydis, for example, is rather extremist, in opposition to her half-brother, Leif, who is fairly zealous in his quest to convert his father’s settlement, while their father Erik the Red, and other brother Thorvard are more moderate (and in Thorvard’s case, he accepts and practices BOTH Christianity and the pagan faith of his father.) Among the Christians in Freydis’s timeline, in contrast to Leif, Gudrid is in my book (as in the original sagas) an incredibly virtuous and kind, generous woman—a model of Christian love and charity. I tried to show the same variance of spectrum of understanding in Emma’s present timeline, too—to reflect the reality of the world we live in today.

Amalia Carosella is the author of Bronze Age Greek and Viking Age historical fiction, including Tamer of Horses, Helen of Sparta, and Daughter of a Thousand Years. As Amalia Dillin she also writes mythic fantasy and time-hop fantasy romance, including the ongoing Orc Saga and the completed Fate of the Gods trilogy. Once upon a time, she dreamed of being a zookeeper, but she’s settled for a house cat and a husband instead.
Twitter @AmaliaCarosella,
support her on Patreon, to stay up to date on her latest authorish adventures.


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