I’m always intrigued by backstories. Not only the formative past of the characters I engage with as I read a novel, but also the backstories of the authors who wrote those novels. What hints of their childhood inform their setting? What life experiences affect their choices in plot? What passionate concerns weave into their novel’s themes?
If you enjoy a bit of “writer backstory,” read on for a peek at one of the elements that contributed to my new novel, Hidden Current:
As the world of Meriel took shape in my mind’s eye, my first influence was one of my favorite novels. I still vividly remember the impact the book had on me in high school. Perelandra, by C. S. Lewis, spoke to my heart on many levels. It helped me understand the banal nature of much of evil, it helped me grasp the insidiousness of temptation, and it showed me that a book can lead a reader into a time of worship as characters joined in celebrating God’s presence.
In a nod to the world Lewis conceived, and because it was vital for the story, I also constructed a floating island—one that ripples with the waves and has the potential to ride the currents.
Another experience that inspired an element of Hidden Current was an encounter I had with dolphins.
Years ago, my husband and I vacationed in Hawaii. We rented a kayak and set out on our own to paddle a bay. As we were enjoying the sun, working to coordinate our strokes, and admiring the shoreline, grey forms suddenly appeared around us. A fearful thrill (sharks?) soon changed to awe and delight.
We were surrounded by a pod of spinner dolphins.
They were huge and wild and powerful. The puffing sound of their breaths made us hold our own breaths. They arched up and down zipping around our kayak—so close that some of our fear returned. Then one of them leaped. I can’t comprehend the strength it takes to fling such a huge body so far into the air. It spun in joyous multiple pirouettes, then flipped like a gymnast and splashed into the waves. Others joined in the dance, leaping and splashing, while we watched, entranced.
When the pod swam away, we paddled after until our arms tired, hoping for more glimpses.
It was a transcendent experience of the beauty of God’s creation and made me understand the literal truth of something being “breathtaking.”
Partway through writing the novel, I suddenly knew that there were sea creatures in this story world, and they popped into my imagination fully formed. The surprise delighted me much as the appearance of those dolphins had. I don’t want to say too much (spoilers!) and they aren’t a direct mirror of my experience. But the awe and joy those dolphins inspired fueled Hidden Current’s sea creatures.
Speculative fiction reflects a fallen world in need of redemption. But it also can paint the power and imagination of our Maker’s original intention. The beauty we notice in our world, or in the world of speculative stories, can remind us of His glorious nature and the many ways He manifests His love for us.
If you interested in more behind the scenes notes, I’m sharing the first chapter of Hidden Current, annotated with my handwritten comments, as a free gift to anyone who pre-orders the hard-cover edition of the novel before October 31. Get more details at my website!
Hidden Current releases Jan. 14, 2020. Lorehaven magazine says:
“Hidden Current introduces The Dancing Realms three-book series, and author Sharon Hinck draws readers into this unique and colorful world, whose quaking and wandering island itself matches the tumult of Calara’s doubts and challenges.”