Beirut it is

I’ve gone back and forth over which story to write next.

First, it was going to be an historical women’s fiction piece set in a convent in 17th century Milan, Italy. I really had begun to give the main character shape and even mentally thought through her development over the course of the tale. Despite my fluency in Italian, however, all the research required intimidated me (not to mention the fact that I would likely need to return to Italy for some of that research…and we simply cannot afford such a trip just now).

Then I got all geared up to write a novel based on my experiences as a teenager in Beirut when the civil war broke out there in 1975. (I learned at the recent conference that such a story would be classified as historical YA fiction. Yes, I am officially old now.) I even began writing it until some other flashes of inspiration struck and stalled me…all speculative.

They’re good ideas, but not for now. I’ve been advised to go with my gut, not the market or even the suggestions of others. Today, I’m back on course with the Beirut story of a dysfunctional American expat family that finally comes together as a country begins to fall apart. (Now, don’t get ideas that this story is based on my own family. We were not, and are not, dysfunctional…but we were there.)

P.S. – I’ve submitted a partial of Laps to another agency. Keeping my fingers crossed because this agent is a dynamo.

Originally posted 2011-05-18 07:37:59.

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4 thoughts on “Beirut it is

  1. This sounds like a very cool story, especially from someone who lived it. Good luck with everything!

    • Thanks, Jennifer. My only remaining quandary is whether to keep it in one POV–that of the teenager–or give each member of the family a voice as Barbara Kingsolver did in “The Poisonwood Bible.” (Not that I’m anywhere near her in ability!) I worry that I might be switching genres by having a teenage protagonist, and I know Sara and other agents have advised writers to stay with one genre to build their audience. Does a teenage protagonist automatically slot you into YA fiction?

  2. Great deal, Tanya!
    Research is a little daunting for me too right now, but I can only imagine what it would be like to have to go to a different country.
    Can’t wait to hear about Laps!

    • Thanks so much, Bryan. Yes, I would definitely have to return to Italy to research that other story because my mission journal wasn’t focused on those kinds of things. Fortunately, for the Beirut story, my mother kept a great family log (you’ll have to ask Allison about it) for all of our years overseas, so a lot of my Beirut research doesn’t require travel. Between her log (full of pictures, letters, jottings, news clippings, invitations, etc.) and pictures and maps posted by former classmates on the Internet, I have plenty of detail with which to work. As for Laps, I’ll keep you posted…

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