By Diana Wallis Taylor
Ideas for stories come in different ways. When I was writing Biblical Fiction, I felt the Lord impressed me each time with the name of my next subject. After Journey to the Well was published, I went on to Martha, Mary Magdalene, and Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate. That last title always sparked questions at my workshops. “How can you write a whole book about someone who appears in one sentence in the Scriptures. I told them its where research comes into play. She was the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus! Lots of variations of her story to sort through! In time, five other women of the Bible were impressed on my mind and with each one, I felt impressed to portray the human side of each character. As an example, since there is nowhere in the Scriptures that states Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, I didn’t portray her as one! I did have to look up childhood traumas, nightmares, epilepsy, etc. With Lydia I learned about the dye industry in Roman times. With Mary, Chosen of God, I wrestled with how to portray the mother of Jesus in a different light. I chose to have the story told through her eyes. How did she feel in the events that involved her life? I portrayed her as a mother. Research is always a learning process! Several things became clear; both Mary and Joseph’s parents had to take the secret of who Jesus really was, to their graves! How could they tell anyone? I also learned that the Passover lamb was roasted with the hind legs tied behind on a vertical skewer, and the front legs out to each side on a horizontal skewer. It formed a cross. Research always brings surprises.
When we lived in Northern California, we experienced the Brown’s Mountain Fire of 1994. We had five minutes to grab things and leave the house. With firemen on our meadow, and helicopters dipping from the Trinity River, firefighters lined up four wide and two blocks long for meals, we were first-hand observers to how CalFire sets up for a major fire. I incorporated that experience into Smoke Before the Wind.
My family owned a house in Big Bear, California for over 13 years. It was a very unusual house, one of the first built in the area. It had stained glass windows, a rock fireplace, stenciled beams, little narrow doors leading from one room to another along with the regular doorways, and a deer antler chandelier among other accoutrements. Eventually as my husband was older we sold it. The memory of the house stayed with me, and I thought it would be fun to weave it into a story one day. That led to House of the Forest. After reading a favorite series about a small town and its characters, I decided to write another story using the mountain house. It features a widow who runs a bed and breakfast in a small mountain community. I called it “House of Little Doors” and I am having great fun weaving the story around solving a hit and run accident, a town gossip, a famous writer, and other interesting characters. Great fun! Hope an editor thinks so too!
Author of 14 books, Diana Wallis Taylor has been writing in numerous ways since the age of 12. She taught school for over 20 years, owned two bookshop/coffeehouses, and retired as Director of Conference Services for a private Christian university. She lives in San Diego, California.