by AJ Quinn
Sometimes the voices in my head get a little too loud.
Now I know what you’re possibly thinking, and no, I’m not schizophrenic. Nor am I dealing with dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder or split personality disorder or any other disorder for that matter.
What I am is a story-teller.
Let me try to explain. As far back as I can remember I could always keep myself entertained just by visiting the worlds that existed in my head. Worlds populated by people who, much to my surprise, didn’t necessarily do what I wanted or expected them to, but rather, lived independent lives, pursued their own dreams, and danced to a rhythm all their own. I must confess that confused me at first. But gradually I came to understand that my role in their lives wasn’t to dictate or control. I was simply the voice-over narrator.
Of course, I thought it was awesome to discover my path at such a young age. Or at least I thought so until the voice of parental reason dictated otherwise. Too young to veto, I allowed myself to be dissuaded and pushed off track onto a different road. But the worlds and the characters in my head never entirely went away. And in the fall of 2007, I finally circled back.
My initial goal was to complete a manuscript—from start to finish. No thoughts of publishing or even letting anyone else read my words. I just wanted to be able to look myself in the mirror and acknowledge I’d actually done it. So I fired up my laptop and much to my delight, words flowed. They became sentences and the sentences began to tell a story.
Until I hit a wall. With no frame of reference, I didn’t know what to do. And then a funny thing happened. My sister—who shares my passion for the written word—asked if I wanted to go away for a few days. To take a break from work and clients and email and just…write.
We tossed around different ideas of where we might go. I thought it should be somewhere that would stir and inspire creativity, which for me has always meant being somewhere by the ocean. So we talked about flying to the east coast. Maybe Nova Scotia and a writer’s cottage she’d heard was available near Peggy’s Cove. But then something possessed me and by the time I finished playing travel agent, we were booked into the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle. Different coast. Different country. No idea why, but sometimes things just happen for a reason.
It took three days of staring out at Elliot Bay for me to realize the reason I was stuck was because I was trying to tell the wrong story. In a moment of reckless daring, I hit delete on the thirty thousand words or so I’d already crafted and started all over again. And on a clear and perfect day, I saw Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains for the first time and Hostage Moon was born.
I wish I could tell you the rest was easy. But as a novice writer with an innate dislike of all things list-like, I wrote the manuscript in a helter-skelter fashion, with only a vague idea of where I was going. I started out with what was meant to be chapter three (a chapter that ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor in its entirety), then moved on to chapter ten, and then back to chapter five. You get what I mean.
The opening of the story didn’t actually get written until almost seven months later, on a glorious day in early May when I checked another item off my bucket list. I wrote it sitting in a little outdoor café in the Latin Quarter in Paris, while looking at the River Seine and sharing a bottle of red with my BFF.
As I looked at my reflection in the river, I imagined all the poets and painters, the dreamers and lovers who had been there before me. And then I listened to the voices in my head as Hunter and Sara helped me write down their story.