Our minds delight in pattern. Writers minds especially. Patterns are the secret joy of storytelling. Not only the patterns in our work but the ones that crop up all around us. When I see a photo that illustrates something I’ve been writing, or hear a song that could be sound track to what I wrote, there is a rightness to the world.
“There I am again!” my secret heart cheers.
After I wrote my first mystery, In Plain View, I happened to wander into a shop near home. There was a poster on display, a panorama photograph of a farm house surrounded by weather worn fences and bare limbed trees.
IPV is set in the deep Midwest, where hundred year-old oaks rise from oceans of grass. These trees embody survival. Shaped by fire, lightning, drought and snow, they rarely have perfect forms. They’ve seen too much for that. The search for justice in my story begins when a man wearing Amish clothes is found hanging from one of these ancient trees. At his feet, lay a pile of pornographic magazines.
It’s magic hour in the photo, the moment when light slices through the atmosphere at the horizon and paints the world a luminous pink.
Maddy O’Hara, the heroine of In Plain View, is a news photographer. She knows about light and shadow. She knows about that moment between—between good and evil, between who you are and who you may become. Maddy’s returned to the Midwest to care for her orphaned niece. Although the barn in the photo needs painting and the fence needs mending, the house seems solid. One window glows like a beacon. The light of home.
One glance at that poster and my mind’s eye saw the whole story. The poster hangs in my office now. Tribute to a moment of artistic synchronicity.
There I am again!