Saturday, January 7, 2012

Guest Post: Carrie Salo, author of The Sounding

Challenging Yourself to Read Historical Fiction

Curling Up by the Fire would like to welcome Carrie Salo, author of The Sounding.

Dear Curling Up By the Fire Readers:

Thanks so much for letting me guest blog for you this week!  I hope you are indeed curled up by the fire (that sounds so nice on this 22-degree morning up in the North East!)  Though I am curled up, I am not fireside.  Rather, my "writer's desk" sits facing two windows that look out onto some woods and a small (cold) pond.  The desk gets its curled-up coziness from the fact that it is old fashioned: a real behemoth with brass handles, a fold out writing area and a large hutch for holding books.  And, I do believe one of my neighbors has a fire going.  I can smell it!  So, I'm fireside by two or three degrees of separation...

Stephanie very kindly left this blog's topic up to me.  And as I was thinking of what to write, I saw that Stephanie posted a historical fiction challenge for 2012.  Anyone up for the challenge?  What are you thinking of reading?  I recently picked up Toni Morrison's A Mercy.  HIGHLY recommended.  The ending is perfect.

I think historical fiction is such an interesting sub-genre of the usually limitless bounds of fiction literature.  It has a certain accountability to it that fiction otherwise does not have.  Is the author representing a time period or a person accurately?  Is the author representing a place to the best of their knowledge?  Is he/she deep enough into their research to breathe it back to life?  What are the sounds, smells, tastes and colors of a place you cannot truly visit because it no longer exists, or only exists behind a sheet of glass or a velvet rope?  And yet, the writing can be so incredibly deep because sometimes, truth (or even the essence of truth) is greater and more impactful than what we can imagine.

My recent novel, The Sounding, is a combination historical fiction novel/supernatural thriller. And the combination of those two things made for one of the most fascinating stories I have ever dreamed up.  The Sounding is about an early Armageddon.  But, unlike a lot of apocalyptic stories out there today, which feature vampires, zombies, or even natural disaster, The Sounding is grounded in real history and real prophecy.  It is meticulously researched, taking its roots (and major plot twists) from thousands of years of Catholic and Jewish theology.  While it takes place in today's world, it visits some of the oldest historical sites across the continents and connects the deep past with the future in a very thrilling way.

Would it have been more fun to write an end of days novel without the constraints of history and theology?  I don’t think so.  The Sounding is as chilling as it is because it is based in some of the most fascinating, time-tested prophecies of our human culture.  It covers a large swath of history and then takes it one step further.  I found it was always more compelling to build on reality, rather than start anew within the vacuum of imagination.  

Research took me to many unexpected places, including a read through the forbidden Apocrypha (containing those books that were once a part of the Bible but were eventually banned/discounted), an in depth look at Israel’s government and recent history, and even a trip to the Vatican itself, and its underground catacomb.  It brought me to spells reportedly mastered by Moses, to the names of demons that would supposedly appear if I but uttered their name (I did not…).  The legitimized and the unlegitimized information were both examined and questioned until it was hard to remember which was which.  The more obscure and unobvious my research became, the more layers presented themselves to me, and to the story. 

(The catacomb on the right is part of the Domitilla catacomb and is known as one of the oldest and largest of the underground cemeteries in Rome.)

In the end, The Sounding was my most interesting translation of an incredibly rich past spanning continents and cultures.  The truth that runs through The Sounding, even as it takes supernatural twists and turns, grounds it in a much deeper place than I could ever have written on my own. 

So, I encourage each of you to take Stephanie’s historical fiction challenge!  The very word “history” has at its simple base: “story.”  Curl up by that fire and read something as large as real life.   

For further information on The Sounding, check it out at Amazon or The Book Depository.


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