The balance between art & writing
Ever since I was a little girl and could first pick up a pencil I have been drawing. It was never something I thought about, I just did it. Compulsively. I begged my parents for art supplies and they thankfully complied. Hours upon hours could be spent sitting on the floor of my room, drawing whatever came into my head.
I discovered the magic of books early on. Happily, my parents read to me and my three siblings from a young age. My father loved to recite poetry to us in the evenings and tell us adventurous stories.
I grew up in a conservative Christian household. When I was ten years old, my dad heard the voice of God telling him to give up his successful business career and become a writer. It would never have occurred to my dad not to obey God. I will never forget the night he gathered us all into his study and declared we were going to leave our secure life and travel the world so he could gain inspiration for his books. Within a few months we were on a plane bound for London, with no plan other than to go where God would lead us.
We landed in London in the summer of 1966, bought a bright red VW van, and proceeded to bumble our way through almost fifty countries. We had all sorts of incredible adventures such as escaping out of Egypt right before the 6 Day War, smuggling Bibles into communist countries and living in a real 17th century Swiss castle. I wrote about Egypt here: INTO THE WORLD | Karen Hunt | New Millennium Writings
I will always be grateful for my dad’s strong faith and how he bravely followed his heart. This inspired me to do the same. However, our travels also taught me that no one religious group has a monopoly on God, and I eventually rejected the narrow theology of evangelical Christianity. I should add over the years we lost almost everything until my dad became a hugely successful Christian author in the 1980s. You can learn more about my dad here: Dave Hunt (Christian apologist) – Wikipedia
But I want to talk about one adventure in particular, which greatly influenced me to become a writer. Early on in our travels we visited friends who lived in the English countryside in a lovely thatched house. One especially blustery, rainy day (big surprise!), my sister and I wandered into the library. There, our eyes were drawn to one series of books in particular: The Chronicles of Narnia. Settling into a big comfy chair close to the fireplace, I began to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
That book changed my life, as well as my sister’s. For the first time, I completely lost myself in another world. I believed in it completely, I lived the adventures as if they were my own. In the story, there’s a wardrobe that leads to another world called Narnia. Well, we traveled next to France and, wouldn’t you know it, almost everywhere we stayed had an old-fashioned wardrobe in the bedroom. Coming from Los Angeles, we’d never seen a wardrobe in real life before. The first time we saw one, my sister and I gasped and ran up to it, then paused, closing our eyes and wishing fervently that this would be the magical wardrobe that would take us to Narnia. Then, holding our breath in anticipation we’d open the door and…
Sadly, it wasn’t. That didn’t stop us from repeating this ritual over and over because, marvelously, there were lots of wardrobes everywhere we went. We never did find that magical wardrobe. But that didn’t mean we gave up believing it was out there somewhere. I still think perhaps it’s out there!
The power of stories is so strong. They make us dream, fill us with hope and wonder. When we are discouraged, they strengthen our faith in something greater than ourselves. They challenge us and frighten us and break us apart and put us back together again. Stories, books, words. There is nothing more powerful, I am sure. They shape who we are, remind us of who we once were, and foretell the future.
In that Swiss castle, I started writing my own stories. There couldn’t have been a better place for a young girl with an over-active imagination to find inspiration. The castle had two turrets, a winding staircase up a main tower, and dungeons down below. My sister and I spent many fantastical days exploring the nearby forests, racing through the village, and searching the castle for hidden treasures and secret passageways. On stormy nights, we made up scary stories about the castle and some of the strange characters we encountered in the village.
I’ve written about all of this in a childhood memoir that I hope to get published one day. But in this short piece, I want to express my feelings about how everything in the past, each step of the way, leads to where we are right now, and the choices we make turn us this way or that, in and out of difficult, dangerous situations and glorious, enchanting ones. Even seemingly insignificant choices can have far-reaching affects.
The path I’ve taken in my life from those first magical moments of discovering books, led me to these moments right now of writing Firefly Lane: Tales of Earth & Oran, Love & Revenge.
Not everything along the way has been so idyllic as what I’ve recalled here. There have been many terrifying and tragic moments. I drew on many of those experiences to write this book. I wanted to do something different, to write a book that featured all female heroes. I wanted each woman to be fierce and strong and fascinating in her own way. I wanted them to be characters that would be relatable to both men and women. I think I have achieved this.
As a woman who has studied martial arts, boxing and kickboxing and weapons almost all my life, I write from a different perspective than most other women. I know this to be true because, with my training, my outlook on life doesn’t fit that of most women. Firefly Lane has violence, fight scenes, and sexual abuse. In all of it, I have done my best to convey the choices that women can make to be tough, brutal even, and get the better of their opponents. To think rationally and fearlessly. To be willing to crush those who stand in their way if necessary.
I suppose the ultimate character in the book who does this is Ith Dahktar San, the Supreme Meditator of the Council of the Vishku Way on Planet Oran. I can’t speak in greater detail because that chapter hasn’t been revealed yet.
But always, with my writing, it is inspired by art. Dahktar made a big impression on me as a character. I just completed the piece of art featured here in her honor.
Ten chapters of ten women, all seeking revenge. There were so many moments in my life where I wanted to rain down revenge on someone–and with good cause, or at least from my perspective. But in real life, most of the time you can’t do that. You must maintain civility in a “civilized” world. At least if you are a normal, ordinary person.
Not so those who are at the top of the food chain. What they do, we cannot even begin to imagine. Those who rule above us think they are gods and they behave as such. What they do in Firefly Lane is horrific.
And what my characters like Ith Dahktar San do to get revenge makes the life I live in the real world, when I see the lies and deceit of the oligarchs who run the show, a little more palatable.
I’m glad I’m an artist and a writer who can create my own worlds where I can explore how I feel about love and revenge, betrayal and honor. In my worlds, I can make things go the way I want them to–which isn’t always perfectly because that would be boring. But it’s always with passion and adventure. And a big dose of faith.