Towers of Brierley
Featured song: “Take Me Home” by Phil Collins
Also (all from the album “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears)
“Swords and Knives,” “Advice for the Young at Heart,” and “Woman in Chains.”
I wrote this book after my third child was born, and before I got pregnant with the fourth one. Since they’re only fifteen months apart, I can pinpoint those months in my memory rather well. The computer I had been using (a technological dinosaur) crashed in the middle and it took a chapter with it. This was long before it was possible to quickly back up a file; the computer didn’t even have a hard drive. I remember being so devastated that I didn’t sleep at all that night. I did a lot of praying, and I rewrote the chapter. I don’t know if it was better or worse than the original, but it taught me some things about my own creativity.
This story began as a “what if” that branched off of another novel I’d written. I would often go through scenarios in my mind of taking the characters along every possible path to work out which plot line was the best. This particular scenario didn’t work for the original novel, but the premise was good enough to build a new book. I changed the setting and characters and the plot took off as something completely new and original. The Scottish setting was something that had always intrigued me, so it was fun to finally put a hero into a kilt. As with the historical “Gables” books, this story has no LDS element.
As always, music played a big part of the inspiration in this story. The “Tears for Fears” CD mentioned above was new and I was playing it a lot. (I love Tears for Fears!) Some of the songs (even more than are listed above, but many of them are kind of strange) meshed into the story and added a great deal of emotional and psychological depth. In looking at the strange circumstances surrounding Gavin’s life, this phrase chilled me: “When life begins with needles and pins, it ends with swords and knives.” It wasn’t a direct translation for me, but metaphorical. The strangeness of Gavin’s birth created a huge plot.
Much of the point of this story is the illustration of Anya’s rise out of being a victim in multiple horrid ways, and eventually finding her greatest self. It’s a theme I’ve certainly used in other books, but this one was actually written long before the LDS novels I wrote that dealt with varying degrees of abuse. The song “Woman in Chains” probably fits Janna in “Return to Love” a little better than Anya in this book, but it was during this writing period that I was listening to it. I think the lyrics capture something profound, as well as the mood of the music. And the end is triumphant, implying an escape from the abuse.
One of the things I love about this story (beyond its amazing plot twists and great characters) is the way that Anya learns she has to choose to be rescued. When she goes back to Brierley against Gavin’s wishes and he finds her there, it’s just so . . . You fill in the blank. It’s romantic and powerful and poignant. In fact, I think I need to read this book again; it’s been too long. But . . . I should be writing.