Seeking the Elusive ‘More’ Through Books by Normandie Fischer
Amy Carter first showed up on my radar when her daddy, Jimmy, let her read at the dinner table—and we’re not talking about any old table. The media went ballistic because Amy had her nose in a book during a state dinner at the White House.
My father would have killed me first.
How I envied that daughter. President Carter may have offended the sensibilities of dignitaries and reporters, but can you imagine that child, lost in a world of make-believe instead of the dull, adult conversations around her? What was she, ten? Eleven?
Books have always lifted me out of the mire and the daily grind. Through stories, I have shared perils and adventures, loves and losses. I escaped Bonaparte, fought the Spanish Armada, trudged the Russian steppes, sailed to Borneo and Buenos Aires, was courted by knights, marched with suffragettes, imagined slavery, fought poverty, dripped jewels, became a famous painter, and solved mysteries in Venice, San Francisco, and Japan.
All readers may not become writers, but all who treasure words can learn to discriminate, to hear and to love a well-formed phrase. Ah…the joy of the mot juste—the perfect word—and the short phrases that speak and touch and open the pores to something beautiful or profound. Sometimes even to something both beautiful and profound.
In my youth, I journeyed into art and into wordsmithing: the poetic, narrative non-fiction, and eventually fiction. Stories made me long to go, and so I did, to Italy for art school, to Europe just because, and then on board our sailboat with my dear husband, whose years of reading and wanderlust made him pin the world map with all the places he longed to see. Perhaps we’ll never travel to all his pinned destinations—or to mine—but we can do so by reading. Or by writing. My second novel, Sailing out of Darkness, takes us venturing to Italy, while my first, Becalmed, places us squarely in small-town South.
The list of my favorite authors is too long to post. But in recent years, I’ve devoured the work of Athol Dickson, whose word crafting makes me wish I had written River Rising, The Cure, or The Opposite of Art. I love the way he proposes a less-than tangible reality, a something more. Charles Martin’s The Mountain Between Us, Thunder and Rain, and Unwritten are some of the most satisfying and lovely dips into Southern fiction I’ve yet encountered. Again, the more. More than just story. More than just language.
Through WFWA, to which I was pointed by the very talented Amy Sue Nathan (author of The Glass Wives and blogger at Women’s Fiction Writers), I’ve made a slew of new friends. Among these are authors Barbara Claypole White, whose hero in The Unfinished Garden suffers from OCD, and Barbara Davis, who crafted a story partially told by a dead woman in The Secrets She Carried. I can’t wait to read Kathryn Craft’s newly released The Art of Falling. Such a beautiful beginning.
So many others. So much fun.
I’d love to hear what books have meant to you. What ports you’ve visited, what you’ve learned about yourself and your world. Oh, I know that would take a dissertation or two, but I bet if you tried, you could distill some thought for us into a sentence or two.
A life-long sailor, Normandie Fischer has been writing and editing professionally since the seventies. After studying sculpture for several years in Perugia, Italy, she returned stateside to complete her degree with special honors in English, and now has two books published: Becalmed from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and Sailing out of Darkness, from WhiteFire Publishing. She is presently working on another story set in Beaufort that follows some of Becalmed’s characters on new adventures.
When they’re not visiting grown children and the new grandbaby, Normandie and her husband divide their time between their waterfront home in NC and their waterborne sailing home, Sea Venture, lately returned from Pacific Mexico. Fortunately, her elderly mama—who lives with them—loves the boat and adventuring and came along on the recent book-signing/sailing trip to NYC. Learn more and order your copy of Sailing Out Of Darkness here.
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