Characterization, Inspiration, and Love by: Lisa M. Lilly
I dedicated my first published novel to my niece Emma. The main character in The Awakening has a little sister, Megan, modeled a bit after Emma. Like Emma, Megan is smart and funny and talks a bit like a grown up because she spends a lot of time around adults. Also like Emma, Megan was diagnosed at a young age with a brain tumor.
I included Megan as a character for a few reasons, one of which was very practical. The Awakening is about a 21-year-old young woman, Tara Spencer, who mysteriously becomes pregnant though she’s still a virgin. Because the story is not traditionally Christian or religious, I wanted Tara, who has a long-time boyfriend she’s planning to marry, to have a practical reason for not risking pregnancy. So I made Tara a pre-med student and the oldest of five children. Because of Megan’s illness, Tara handles even more child care than most oldest siblings in large families do, stepping in because her parents often are consumed with seeing that Megan gets the appropriate care and support. Because of her role, Tara gains real insight into the responsibilities of raising children and puts off both marriage and sex, wanting to wait until she’s ready.
I also borrowed a bit from Emma because she inspires me. When she was ten, I gave her the Narnia Chronicles, which I’d so loved at her age. When she was eleven, she read me adventure stories she’d written in her journal. I have two brothers, one who had six children, and one who had one – Emma. I felt thrilled that one of my brothers’ children enjoyed writing as much as I do.
Unfortunately, unlike her cousins, Emma won’t reach adulthood. She would have been twenty-one this coming year, but she died at age eleven, a few months after she shared those stories with me. She started her first day of junior high, but never high school; celebrated her first communion but never her graduation. She did not get to grow up, fall in love, start a career.
Emma took great joy in life despite being treated for her tumor for almost half of it. She met a Minnesota Viking football player and traveled to the Minnesota Twins spring training through Make-a-Wish. She had a blast playing with cousins on both side of the family. She loved her parents, her kitten, and the Beanie Babies my mom bought her. She always took the tags off them so they’d look more like real animals.
When I have a challenging day – the dishwasher leaks, or Amazon tells me I have zero book sales for a week, or a client in my law practice is unhappy with me – I often think of Emma. Emma would have loved to grow up and have the chance to deal with these kinds of issues. Emma also reminds me to be present and enjoy the wonderful parts of life. A glass of wine with friends, a family dinner, a professional accomplishment. A quiet walk along Lake Michigan or a less quiet one on State Street to see the holiday windows and lights. Each moment is a gift, an instant that not everyone is lucky enough to experience.
So I thank you, Emma, for being an amazing, wonderful part of my life. And, as I said in the dedication, wish you were here.
Lisa M. Lilly is the author of Amazon occult best seller The Awakening. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in numerous print and on-line magazines, including Parade of Phantoms, Strong Coffee, and Hair Trigger, and a short film of the title story of her collection The Tower Formerly Known as Sears and Two Other Tales of Urban Horror was recently produced under the title Willis Tower. She is currently working on The Awakening, Book II: The Unbelievers.
The Awakening for Kindle: http://amzn.to/pFCcN6
For Nook: http://bit.ly/15bViBm
For Kobo: http://bit.ly/1gTrxdW
Visit Lisa's website: www.lisalilly.com
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