Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rebecca ... the troll reporter????

The following was written at the request of the Stoughton Press. I am revealed to my community.

I was about to have one of those birthdays that end in a zero, you know the ones I mean, and I’ll admit , it was freaking me out. I had seen The Stoughton Press land on my front stoop in the past. It was interesting and I read it, and like most of you recycled it when I was done. But that April day, I got curious. Who was putting this paper out? I studied the letter from the editor. What’s that? They want story ideas, the wackier the better. I knew she was talking to me. Quickly, before I chickened out, I typed an email with several story ideas, and without thinking too much, pushed send. To be honest, I expected a “thanks, but we have that covered” a few weeks later, but that wasn’t what happened. Almost immediately a got a reply, “love your ideas, we should meet”!
Uh-oh, now I had to step up and deliver. I’m not a writer, never aspired to be one, but I knew I could put a string of letters together in a slightly witty way. But I really wanted to support my budding photography hobby. I had only recently gotten back into the craft, and my professional life has provided me with some decent Photoshop skills. Suddenly it came to me. Stoughton needs a troll. I was sure it had been done in the past, and I knew about the tiny troll house along the river trail, but I wanted to photograph a troll as it crept around Stoughton. Minutes before my first meeting with the editor, I smashed together a photo of one of the many Stoughton mansions with a toy duck that perched on the roof peak. It was ridiculous. Long story short, she loved the idea, but she had a zinger for me. ‘So what’s his name?’ Uh, I don’t know. ‘Sure you do, and you’ll write an article to introduce him, right?’ Oops, I had stepped in it now. 

I left the meeting with my head swimming, but later, I recalled a message scrawled in the margin of a long ago high school paper—“beautiful, you should write for a living.” I still have that paper. I took a boring assignment and turned it into a bizarre world where tiny creatures lived in the ink that streamed from my pen as I wrote my story. Hmm, maybe I can do this. My insomnia kicked in, and I even took a vacation day. Who was he? Was he a he? What did he want? Where did he live? How did he get here? If I was going to do this, I had to know absolutely everything about the troll. Each question was quickly answered; I scribbled it all in a notebook as fast as it came. Very soon, I had what I thought was a 10,000 word short story. I started writing that weekend. Saturday went by, and then Sunday morning, I’m 15,000 words in and just getting started. My husband sat me down and said, “You’re writing a book, you know that, don’t you,” but I had promised the editor an article. I started to examine the situation. I needed to write an article for a paper; that made me a reporter, right? You know the rest of the story, well most of it.
I still had that incredible adventure rattling around in my brain. Hours, days, weeks, months flew by as I banged out a twisted troll tale—scratch that troll tail. Never one to take an already blazed path, I have reinvented the legends surrounding trolls, fairies, and dragons. All those “what if” questions have led to a book that some have compared to The Wizard of Oz, and others to Shrek, but I know what it took to create a wholly new legend:

One crazy idea…
  • Two family histories…
  • Six rewrites…
  • Nine months…
  • Hundreds of internet searches…
  • Thousands of hours… every weekend, every holiday, most weeknights, and endless sleepless hours
  • Quarter of a million words…
  • Equals one 290-page book.
You won’t believe where all those questions have led me. Blue on the Horizon introduces the founding members of Oton’s village of trolls. He even makes an appearance a young trollkin under his given name, Blomst. That’s right Oton’s true name is Blomst—Flower to you Norwegian speakers. He changed his name because he loves Stoughton and coffee and chocolate and sprinkles …  

If you are an e-book reader, download a copy at Amazon.com. Just enter Rebecca Ferrell Porter in the search box. Blue on the Horizon is getting great reviews and several readers are already begging for the next chapter in the Legends of the Aurora series. I’m busy outlining the next book as you read this. You going to love the wacky world that lives between my ears. To paraphrase one of my favorite characters, everyone has secrets … I just wear mine on the outside now.
Blue on the Horizon, available locally—exclusively at Saving Thyme, 223 West Main Street, Stoughton.

One last thing, thanks Linda Bricco-Shalk, owner and editor of the Stoughton Press, you’ve given my inner child a golden key to a magical playground.

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