Author Archives: Sidney Stark

The Currency of ‘Once Upon a Time’~

The Currency of ‘Once Upon a Time’~

 

Once Upon A Time is, at its core, a story about hope. – Edward Kitsis

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‘Once upon a time…’ How I used to thrill to that opening phrase as a child—heck, I still do! It signals the start of a story and the necessary suspension of disbelief to appreciate it fully. It also heralds the possibility of escape, and what imaginative youngster could resist that—heck again, there are few adults who can ignore the call, either. It’s why shows like Downton Abbey were just as popular with men as with women and why adults were lost in the addiction to Harry Potter right along with their children and grandchildren. What’s ‘beach reading’ if not escape? Where’s the value in Sci-Fi or adventure series like Tom Clancy’s books if not in the chance to live somewhere else for a while? Truly, that’s what novels are for. So much so that even biographies have come to mimic the novel’s design to help the reader slip into another’s skin. I note the power of books such as Ron Chernow’s Hamilton and Grant to convince the adult reader that they don’t know how ‘the ending’ will turn out. If that’s not suspension of disbelief, I don’t know what is!

Admitting I’ve always craved flights of fancy, I accept that many others do, too, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing historical fiction. But I also value the chance it gives us to see our own dilemmas through a broader lens, allowing us to observe the similarities between all humans no matter what their times. ‘Once Upon a Time’ is always about some other continuum. It’s irresistible. And although readers as well as writers understand the necessity of setting the scene, placing a story solidly in the ‘place’ of its happening, sometimes they ignore the importance of the time the story opens ‘once upon’. But as an author who’s chosen historical fiction as her passion (or did it choose me?), I can readily admit to a bias toward the voyeurism of watching other lives affected by a different human history and culture.

My first novel in this genre, Certain Liberties, is planned for publication late this year by Momentum Ink Press. Knowing the avalanche of technical challenges likely to rain down on the ‘team’ (editor, printer/designer and author), I’m reluctant to count on holding the book in my hands until 2019. That said, I appreciate the ‘history’ part of this novel in a new way, thanks to my editor. Even though it added so much more work, with tons of extra research, and facts that never got used, I found myself immersed in the period in a more complete way. I know that also helps the reader dive in as well, even if the editor didn’t let me use my research on the advent of the use of the paper bag for shopping. He felt the year was too close to my action and the use not yet commonly accepted. He’s a history buff with a blog specifically devoted to it, and doesn’t permit any wiggle room where the facts are concerned. Once in a long while, he’ll give me the benefit of a looser hand on the controls, but almost never.

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Empty Subject

Empty Subject

  “Life is not about you henceforward, but you are about life.” ~ Richard Rohr ****** In the current climate of text messaging, it’s seldom that an email is used for the scattershot approach to communication as it used to be. However, I sometimes prefer to meander aimlessly instead of rushing with minimally verbal texting. At… Continue Reading

We All Change; So They Say~

We All Change; So They Say~

“…the only hope given us, although only in retrospect, is that we change.” ~ Michael Ondaatje in Warlight. ****** At a recent reading given by New Yorker book critic and award-winning author James Wood, he introduced his new novel called Upstate, about family relationships and the universality of the interactions within them. The author described… Continue Reading

Live and In Person~ or the hand on the page

Live and In Person~ or the hand on the page

  Forever is composed of nows. – Emily Dickinson ******** Let’s face it; we’re all struggling to control the use of this addictive substance called technology. I was most aware of it recently during a news program about modern musicians who’ve started to ban cell phones and videos from their performances. The young guitarist being interviewed… Continue Reading

Outliers

Outliers

“It seemed to me that I made no impact on the world, and that in exchange I was privileged to watch it unawares.” ~ Marilynne Robinson ****** It carries a certain cachet for me, and maybe for everyone else, too. There’s a rakishness to the label of ‘outlier’.  I realize that could come entirely from… Continue Reading