Joan C. Benson, Christian Author, Speaker, & Educator

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

The Story Behind the Story: His Gift

Are you ever curious about why authors write what they do? I am. You often discover something about the author’s unique life experience or perspectives. In my case, the backstory for my debut historical fiction, His Gift, is personal and significant. The story conflict is based on true events in my mother’s life growing up at the onset of The Great Depression. These facts helped me construct a compelling tale stirred with truth, imagination, and sprinkled with love.

His Gift takes place at the onset of The Great Depression, October, 1929. I had someone suggest I shouldn’t write about such a “depressing” era because who would read it? I countered the argument with my belief that His Gift isn’t about the sadness of that historic time. Instead, it is about how God is faithful throughout our trials, and He makes all things beautiful when … yes, when … we yield our dreams to him.

I began writing His Gift after my mother passed away. While reading her diaries, I heard her “voice” in a unique way, not as my mom, but as a young woman with dreams and a determination to see them come true. I knew snippets of “her story,” but suddenly as an adult writer, I knew her life possessed a drama to be shared. My mother was a gifted musician who pursued her ambition to become a professional concert pianist upon graduation. In the fall of 1929, she won a student audition to play the Rahcmaninoff Concert #2 with the Detroit Symphony. Then, weeks later, Black Tuesday occurred, the worst day in stock market history. What happens thereafter is the “rest of the story.”

My husband and I traveled to Royal Oak, MI, the setting of the story, to do primary research. We located my grandparents’ home, and the local music conservatory where my mother studied with a then retired concert pianist. We researched what seemed like miles of micrfiche about the 1920s at the Detroit Public Library. With this information download, I felt prepared to write, write, write.

Armed with ideas, I began writing the novel–without having completed a synopsis from beginning to end. To my surprise, my plot development came to an abrupt halt once I developed the conflict. Why? I didn’t know what happened once my grandfather was forced to move the family into Chicago. My mom was not around to explain the facts. I didn’t know of a true conflict resolution in my mother’s life. I had no confidence to invent a completely fictional ending. So, sadly, the story sat dormant–for a long time. I knew if it would ever be finished, I needed God’s help. I prayed, I read, and like Franz Schubert’s mostly Unfinished Symphony, His Gift, remained unresolved.

One day, I finally had revelation. I knew what needed to happen. I felt it was inspired. I wrote with great energy and passion as if God were whispering ideas in my ear. I was thrilled as this novel’s resolution pointed readers to seek Christ in life’s obstacles. In our yieldedness, we can find the peace for which we yearn. My heart was full because I knew His Gift could bless readers, and encourage them in their individual walks of faith.

That, my readers, is the story behind the story. I hope you find it interesting, as well as hopeful for whatever dilemmas you may face.

 

Originally Published at https://bensonjj.blog/2021/02/02/the-story-behind-the-story-his-gift/ on .
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