A guest post by author Kassandra Lamb who, like actor Carl Gordon, experienced a divine calling that led to her late-blooming passion. (Note: Later Bloomer Unlimited is an equal-opportunity supporter of divine intervention!)
I’ve always loved to write.
For decades that passion was satisfied by writing professional articles. When I started teaching college in my mid-forties, I even enjoyed writing test questions.
(I learned not to mention that to my fellow professors. It ranks right up there with admitting you hear voices in your head.)
In 2004, I retired from my profession as a psychotherapist and moved with my husband to Florida. I taught part-time, took up golf, learned to play piano, and became more involved with my church.
At 52, I was a happy early retiree. Things went swimmingly for a few years.
Eventually, however, I became a bit too involved with my church and started to burn out. My spiritual advisor suggested I take some time off from all my church duties and recharge my batteries.
What does all this have to do with writing?
Then an idea popped into my head for a new opening to an unfinished novel — one that had been languishing in my hard drive for fifteen years. I immediately sat down for just a few minutes (I thought) to type it out so I wouldn’t forget it.
Six weeks later, I’d finished the first draft and had fallen in love with fiction writing. Here’s why:
1. It was God’s idea. During that frenzied writing marathon, I realized God had answered “What to do with my time?” with the new scene. Now I’m very careful how I talk to myself. You never know when He’s listening, and He’s got a well-developed sense of humor!
2. Writing fiction is wonderfully consuming. The story took over my life. I stayed up all hours, dropped into bed, and woke up early with more words in my head demanding to be written.
My muse has been a bit easier on me lately. I don’t think my body could have kept up that pace. But I still spend hours, and sometimes whole days, in an altered state as words flow from my fingertips onto the computer screen.
3. I can continue my life’s calling and have fun doing it. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why God had given me that divine nudge. I write murder mysteries! Not exactly inspirational stuff.
My protagonist, Kate Huntington, is a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma recovery. This started as a case of “write what you know,” but God had a different agenda. (Can you hear Him laughing?)
Somewhere around the fifteenth edit of my first book (I did 33), it dawned on me that my writing could bring into play what I’d been doing all my life.
First I was a therapist, then a professor teaching the next generation of therapists. Now I could pass along, in an entertaining format, some of what I’d learned through the years about coping with life and difficult circumstances.
For instance, what if a former CIA black-ops agent, who is now an average-Joe family man, stumbles over someone he knew back in the day — someone with a lot more invested in keeping the past a secret?
Next I decide who’s going to get killed, by whom, and for what reason. Then, with only a basic outline, I start writing.
I’m fascinated by how ideas develop, how one thing leads to another. Sometimes a seemingly insignificant action will become relevant two or twenty chapters later.
In my latest book, guilt is one of the main themes. About halfway through the book, a minor character, a bodyguard, tries to resign because someone gets hurt on her “watch” — a natural response from someone dedicated to a job who feels they screwed up.
Lo and behold, at the end of the story, that character’s guilt ignites the final confrontation between the good guys and bad guys. I so didn’t see that coming when I typed the words, “I’d like to tender my resignation.”
My first book focused on my main character Kate and her friend, lawyer Rob Franklin. Everyone else played a secondary or minor role.
Since then a couple of those secondary folks have morphed into more important characters. And Kate is now married to a minor character from the first book! How’d that happen?
This week, I’m celebrating the release of my fifth Kate Huntington mystery, Collateral Casualties. The other four novels are out there for readers to enjoy. Perhaps now my pace will slow and I can feel at least semi-retired again. Maybe I’ll even dust off my piano and play some golf.
But somehow I doubt it. My sixth book is almost drafted and the seventh book is writing itself in my head.
Retired? I’ve never worked so hard in my life! (Did you hear that cosmic guffaw?)
Thank you, Kassandra, for sharing your tale of late-blooming creativity and the impressive body of work it has produced!
You can read the Kate Huntington mysteries in any order, but I suggest you start with Collateral Casualties:
When a former client reveals a foreign diplomat’s dark past to psychotherapist Kate Huntington, she and her family and friends are sucked into a vortex of international intrigue. Forced into hiding, they struggle to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer bent on protecting the ambassador’s secret.