For many of us, authors are our heroes. They create worlds that we can lose ourselves in on a daily basis. They dream dreams and share those dreams with us. One of the most amazing things about being a book blogger is being able to meet and interact with (and sometimes even befriend!) such heroes. Even better is when, thanks to the blog, you stumble upon what would otherwise be impossible opportunities.
Today, I have the honor to share with you one such “impossible opportunity” that fell upon my desk this week. It happened when I asked author, Colleen Houck, to reflect upon writing the TIGER’S CURSE series as a contribution to our Month of the Tiger. Her response, which you will find below, gave me goosebumps.
This, to me, is one of the most special and personal pieces of writing that I have ever featured here on the blog. As a TIGER’S CURSE fan, I am honored to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
In Tiger’s Voyage, the Indian goddess, Durga, says to Kelsey, “You will discover that if you hadn’t stretched, you would have drowned in the deep, never to blossom or share your gifts with others.” This statement is a theme for my writing journey. In the beginning, I never would have thought I could write a book at all, let alone a series, let alone a published, New York Times Bestselling one. It was a mighty big stretch for me to go from a reader who took a few creative writing classes in college to being a writer. The first thing I needed to learn was discipline. It takes an effort to sit every day at your computer and write. Many people think writing is something magical—that upon being inspired by a muse, a writer will go into a kind of trance and produce a book on the other end. This is far from the truth, at least in my experience. Like a toddler learning to walk, there were several baby steps that got me to the point that I felt ready to tackle a book like Tiger’s Curse. Those steps included penning short stories, writing poems (Kelsey’s poem called Grooming was one I’d written years before Tiger’s Curse), and creating a multi-generational recipe book, but the turning point for me was reading about author Stephenie Meyer online. She was the first author I ever followed and I was fascinated with her story about how she turned a dream of a sparkling vampire into a bestselling series. Shortly after that, I watched a documentary on how J.K. Rowling became an author and her story effectively erased any remaining excuses or self-doubts. Armed with the determination to give writing a try, and inspired by my favorite authors, I set pencil to paper and drafted an outline, one I followed pretty well. As you can see from my original outlines, some ideas were cut or moved. The twin dragons in book four became twin Fire Lords and the dragons were moved to the ocean book. I wrote the air book second and the water book third. This document was the beginning of everything. Ren was an elusive daydream back then. Kishan was a dark and dangerous possibility. And Kelsey was a quiet voice, a mere glimmer in my imagination. As chapters began to take shape, I began to share them with friends and co-workers. The adventure filled all my waking and most of my sleeping hours, and I found I couldn’t step away from my books. A hunger rose in me to tell a story and not just any story but their story. Since then the voices of my characters have risen to the forefront and have settled into a place in my mind. Mr. Kadam shares with me his wisdom. Nilima worries. Kelsey whispers of her fears. Kishan paces, his unhappiness a frustrated growl that sends goose bumps down my limbs. And Ren’s warm timbre is a constant presence that fills my consciousness with music, poetry, and sweet words of love. It is said that, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Every day that I sit down at my computer to write I wonder what I would have written had I started writing an hour later or an hour before. When I look back on my early books, I can see how I’ve grown and changed but this is not just true of me, it’s also true of my characters. I’ve had the opportunity to share this story I deeply love with people around the world and this would not have been possible if I had not stretched forth my leaves like the lotus flower. At times the stretching was uncomfortable, at times I cried, but all that stretching was necessary. It made for a better book, a better series, a better author, and a better me. I am truly grateful for all the people who have traveled with me in the tiger series—my family, my team at the publishing house, my agent, my friends, and my movie production team. Each person involved has added their own piece to the series making it that much better. I am nearing the end of this river and I am not the same person I was when I began this journey, but another river waits beyond the next mountain. I look forward to meeting the version of me waiting to be discovered on the other side and hearing the story she will tell. Colleen Houck Author, Tiger's Curse series
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