Hello from the downstairs studio at OurWriteHouse, where I, Carol, have completed a draft of my latest project. With the help of Beethoven and Chopin, Rachmaninov and von Williams, I am now in revisions of a book-length manuscript, Smoke of a Great Fire, a non-memoir memoir meant (no first person) to explore the treachery of truth and doubt, faith and proof from several (medical and lay) points of view. Like my earlier book-length manuscript, The Question of Empathy, this, too, is a non-apologetic hybrid form that relies on metaphor to straddle fiction and non-fiction. Smoke of a Great Fire still belongs to literary non-fiction, but borrows from the novel without asking permission. Not an experimental form, this, but an approach that feels right to me—a means to tell a story, mine. Here's the pitch:
Smoke of a Great Fire:
A Novel, A Memoir, A Truth
by Carol Jeffers
At sixty-five, a pair of unlikely twins known only as “O.S.” and “O.D.” suffer yet another loss, one that leaves them in a wobbly world searching for a new identity before they are gone forever. Time is short, and with the help of their live-in care-giver “C.J.” they navigate between memory, truth and hope as they work to write a memoir that will explain what the medical world could not. They struggle mightily with fundamental questions—Had they made things happen, or had things just happened to them? Had they been the fire or the smoke? Had they seen too much or seen too little? And like most everyone, they wondered if they would be remembered for who they were or who they weren’t. Their story, surreal as it seems, was a chance for healing, for accepting a new identity that could give some comfort to C.J., friends, neighbors, colleagues and doctors who care about them. In his author’s note to Moonglow, Michael Chabon says “In preparing this memoir, I have stuck to facts except when facts refuse to conform with memory, narrative purpose, or the truth as I prefer to understand it.” And so has Carol Jeffers in Smoke of a Great Fire.
Odd, though, when the writing is going well and the structure feels sound, the music falls away, only to resume its rhythmic play as a dialogue or descriptive passage nears its end.
In our explorations of the human condition, we have come to understand the importance of being both centered and interconnected so we are open to projects that otherwise might seem daunting. This has grown steadily over the years and our partnership now blooms in this place and time where together and separately we seek compelling stories. Welcome to Our WriteHouse.
See a review of Luc Petit CREATION's
new China show in
Gene's inpark Magazine article
Read an indepth review of Carol's books The Question of Empathy in the June 2019 issue of Wordgathering
The issue also includes Carol's essay Seeds
Gene's Loaded Question short memoir was a Finalist at the 2019 Tucson Literary Festival Competition
Carol's piece "On Configuration"
has just been published in Wordgathering!
Carol's piece "Sea Wall" has just been published in Connotation Press!
REALLY BIG NEWS!
Published by Koehler Books,
Carol's book is now out!
The Question of Empathy: Searching for the Essence of Humanity.
Available on Amazon
Will be available in hard and soft cover,
as well as eBook formats.
Carol’s The Question of Empathy manuscript was named a semi-finalist in the
2017 Pirates’ Alley Faulkner Narrative
Non-Fiction Book length contest.
Carol's short memoir piece Covenant
will be published in Persimmon Tree in 2018.
"Theme parks greet Chinese tourists" in
Bridging Tourism Theory and Practice, Vol. 7
almost written itself as it evolved, characters real and imagined springing to life as the exploration deepened.
What is emerging is a historical novel set in the midst of the Hundred Years War and the Great Western Schism, a time of plots and intrigues, of betrayals and alliances. History intertwines with fiction, a coming of age tale of a common man is being woven around real people and events that set the stage for Joan of Arc and a future line of French kings, inalterably affecting Western European history.
In the process of exploring this story, a new appreciation for the Middle Ages has emerged, an understanding this was a period of continuous change both political and social, an era of travel and commerce, a time when religion and myth were seen as part of the everyday world. In short, a time not unlike today's world. While six hundred years may have passed, and we now enjoy mobile devices, jet planes and central heating, very little has changed in the human psyche and in the way we interact with each other. We fool ourselves temporarily into believing otherwise, in placing our trust in the illusions of progress, but in the end, millions of years of evolution cannot be overwritten by a few mere centuries of "civilization." Then, as now, it is up to each one of us as individuals to resist our ancient origins and seek collaborative rather than competitive approaches to our problems and challenges. A Sea of Glass seeks to explore that tension.
As the upstairs writer, my current quest began with unanswered questions while visiting the Apocalypse Tapestry in the Chateau d'Angers, France. In 1400, the guidebook intrigued, this immense 550 by 18 foot work of art was transported 500 miles for a wedding in Arles. No details, nothing more. How did they do that? Why did they do that?
Slowly the curtain of time that has hidden this story has been pulled back through research, visits to known historical sites, walking where people stepped more than six hundred years ago, all in search of the story behind this monumental transport. It is a story that has
Photo by Phil Hartley