When I began writing Finding Bluefield, I started with Nicky. For me, fiction begins with characters so when I write I have to start with a character. And since I don’t use outlines because I don’t want to get in the way of the story, I rely on my characters to help lead the plot forward.
Next, Barbara showed up and I wanted to know how she and Nicky would make their way through the turbulent 1960’s. I wanted to chronicle the lives of these two women who, by seeking love and family, found themselves navigating unknown territory during a time when relationships like theirs were mostly hidden and often dangerous.
Nicky and Barbara’s multi-generational tale crossed paths with political and social events of their day, such as JFK’s election, Woodstock, the MLK March on Washington, the moon landing, voter registration, the Sanctuary movement, and others. But, as their lives unfolded against this backdrop, I wanted to avoid writing a message novel, the kind where the writer relentlessly hits the reader over the head with their message and renders life as simplistic, and situations as black or white. The thing is, very little of life is black or white. It’s mostly grey. If we’re lucky, some other colors too.
Instead, as I imagined Barbara and Nicky’s journey, I knew I wanted to tell a tale that was at its core personal, not political. That was about characters, not causes. That told a story, not sent a message.
Finding Bluefield is foremost the story of Nicky and Barbara creating a life for themselves and Paul. It is the story of their need to be able to imagine a life that they did not know existed, to imagine a life that they could not see, and for which they had no model. Because if we can not imagine, then we can not change.
You can contact Elan at elanbarnehama.com/@elanbarnehama